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Can America Find its Common Ground?

January 26, 2012

Gabrielle Giffords' Goodbye via Youtube

Representative Gabrielle Giffords urges the American political system to do more by working together

“I know on the issues we fought for, we can change things for the better. Jobs.  Border security.  Veterans. We can do so much more by working together.” ~ Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in her farewell speech

This Sunday, January 22nd, Representative Gabrielle Giffords took to Youtube to announce her resignation in order to best serve her community. A year after her nearly fatal shooting, she still has much to do to recover. She has been much lauded by her fellow Representatives for her courage and determination, but here at SFCG, we find ourselves struck by her final message.

“We can do so much more by working together.”

Laurie Roberts, in her column at The Arizona Republic, asks ‘Can we?’ She contemplates this in the face of the political gridlock and smear media culture here in the United States. Cooperation is a buzz-word, but as former Senator Jonathan Paton puts it, “Compromise is usually what the other guy needs to do.”

Roberts underlines that Giffords has suggested a legacy for her shooting last year and subsequent struggle to serve her state as:

“…a search for common ground, turf occupied by statesmen. Where what you do is more important than what you say. Where the man or woman across the aisle isn’t your enemy but your fellow American. Where middle ground isn’t a no-man’s land but the promised land.”

Roberts concludes that we can change things, but simply don’t as divisional politics gets elected officials in office and keeps them there. The subsequent Facebook comments seem to bear up her conclusion. One states “As a conservative I don’t consider a liberal as my fellow American. They are the enemy and must be defeated.” Another claims that “Bipartisanship to the Left by the way, is “Ok, let’s work together. We can start with you throwing out everything you believe in and going with what we say. Ready?” His comments are promptly identified  by another comment as propaganda equivalent to Hitler’s ‘manual’ against the Jews.

At SFCG, we work every day to make common ground accessible to people around the globe, including the United States. We foster cooperative approaches to resolving public policy issues by cultivating a model of trust, respect and mutual understanding that can involve diverse and influential decision-makers in this country. We also institute and promote programs that bring everyday citizens together to discuss the issues that divide them.

Watch the delivery of her extended resignation speech to the House of Representatives here.

What do you think? Can we work together? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

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