May 19, 2013

Breaking the congressional logjam

Frustration over the lack of common ground leads Maine's former senator to write about how we can create it.


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Former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine

2012 file photo/The Associated Press

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On the political front, I advocate campaign finance reform and independent state redistricting committees to avoid gerrymandering when the congressional districts are drawn after the 2020 census.

Also, I'm encouraging Americans to join a new movement and call to action through the Bipartisan Policy Center, where I am a senior fellow, by becoming a Citizen for Political Reform at its website,

The BPC was founded by four former Senate majority leaders, two Democrats and two Republicans: George Mitchell and Tom Daschle, and Howard Baker and Bob Dole.

As Americans, we've met our greatest challenges in the past by working together to solve big problems. It's time for a new movement of citizens working as a team, supporting ideas that can bridge the political divides and championing those who are willing to work across the political aisle.

And that's why part and parcel of this Citizens for Political Reform effort will be what we call the Common Ground Project, which will provide people with real-time insights into key issues before Congress, what's holding back passage of important legislation, and what the potential common ground options are for bringing the two sides together and forging solutions.

In so doing, we believe we can both attract people to the cause of finding common ground and attract the attention of lawmakers who want to find solutions but don't have the resources to develop them themselves.

It is crucial that we harness the power of social media, to mobilize from the grassroots upward to send an unmistakable message to our lawmakers that there is popular support for seeking common ground rather than destructive divisiveness.

Those who seek to divide us either by creating wedge issues or through hyper-partisan rhetoric would have us believe they are representing the vast majority of Americans, but they are not.

Regardless of what the polarizing forces and the political classes would have you believe, it is possible to move forward from our differences. What's required is creating the critical mass behind groups like the Bipartisan Policy Center and others I describe in my book, to unleash their ability to more profoundly influence the course of events in Congress.

We can make Congress the solutions-driven powerhouse it once was if we demand the kinds of reforms I describe above and elaborate on in my book.

Through I also intend to support elected officials and candidates who are willing to work for bipartisan solutions, in order to provide a political reward at the ballot box for doing so and a political penalty for those who don't.

I hope you'll join with me in the fight to make government work again.

- Special to the Telegram


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