Magazine article The Masthead

Political System Poses Obstacle to Finding Common Ground: Communication Is Key

Magazine article The Masthead

Political System Poses Obstacle to Finding Common Ground: Communication Is Key

Article excerpt

Will newly elected moderates help edge Congress away from its often harsh partisan divisions?

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Don't bet on it.

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, elected last fall in Missouri, was expected to be among a handful of moderate Democrats who would push their party toward the political middle, but McCaskill said the nastiness of today's Senate campaigns spills over once the winners take office and leaves them not inclined to feel charitable toward the other party.

"It doesn't feel like we're finding common ground on Iraq in Washington. In fact, it doesn't feel like we're finding common ground on much" she said.

McCaskill joined U.S. Representative Todd Tiahrt, R-Kansas, and Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan in a discussion headlined "The New Political Figure: Social Conservatives and Liberals (occasionally) Find Common Ground to Reunite America" during the NCEW convention in Kansas City.

For Tiahrt, one key issue is for officeholders to remain civil even when unable to find agreement. He cited several issues where liberals and conservatives might not be that far apart, such as economic questions, and he said the country needs consensus on how to compete in the global economy.

"For me," he said, "it's as important as the war on terror."

The political system, however, doesn't reward risk taking on social issues, he said.

McCaskill echoed that idea.

"It takes courage to compromise," she said. "It takes courage to disappoint your [political] base. …

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