USA TODAY Op-Ed by David Mathews - "How Americans can learn once again to solve our nation's problems together"

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  • David Mathews

An op-ed piece by David Mathews, chairman of the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) and president of the Kettering Foundation was published on the USA TODAY website on October 20, 2020. The op-ed, titled How Americans can learn once again to solve our nation's problems together, comes at the conclusion of an election-year initiative, Hidden Common Ground, a collaboration by the USA TODAY network, Public Agenda, the National Issues Forums Institute, the America Amplified public radio collaborative, and the Kettering Foundation.

In the op-ed piece, Mathews notes that, among other resources, the Hidden Common Ground work drew on information about how people talked together about difficult public issues in small deliberative public forums that were held around the country in recent months. About the value that can accrue from people deliberating together, Mathews notes:

When people are fearful and impatient, they are prone to make impulsive decisions. In time, however, to solve really difficult problems, they realize that they have to work with others who may be different. To work together effectively, they have to decide together what the work should be. They have to make sound decisions, which requires shared and reflective judgment.

Mathews also suggests that one of the things to come out of the Hidden Common Ground initiative may go well beyond this election year by "illustrating the potential for a new role for media" in which he envisions that "It can put journalists in the business of adding more public judgment to our political system..." 

Click here to read the full op-ed