- Explore more great deals on thousands of titles in our Deals in Books store.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That Is Destroying America Paperback – Bargain Price, August 19, 2008
|New from||Used from|
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Special Offers and Product Promotions
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Cal Thomas, a conservative, writes a twice-weekly syndicated column and is a frequent panelist on Fox News Watch.
Top Customer Reviews
Frankly, I found the first two-thirds of "Common Ground" to be a bit tedious at times. Beckel and Thomas rehash dozens of events over the past several decades that have contributed in one way or another to increasing lack of civility and rampant partisonship that is now so prevalant in this country. The authors point to events like the confirmation hearings for Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the Iran-Contra hearings, the battle over national health insurance as well as the ongoing abortion issue as among the key reasons why politics has been poisoned in our country. In addition, Beckel and Thomas correctly point out that hundreds of special interest groups have a huge financial stake in keeping the people of this country divided. I sort of figured this out a while back and refuse to contribute to these types of highly charged one issue organizations. Likewise, much of talk radio has become highly partisan and quite inflammatory and no longer lends itself to a reasoned discussion of the important issues of the day. And that's too bad! Again, those who have been paying attention will not find a whole lot of new information in "Common Ground" about the events that have caused this phenomenon of polarization to occur.
More interesting to me, however, is the last few chapters of "Common Ground" where the authors point to some key issues where they feel consensus can be reached. In addition, they make suggestions as to how candidates can sell the concept of compromise in presenting their ideas to the American people. Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas are also very big on the idea of what they call "second opinion" groups. Much like the Grace Commission that was assembled by President Reagan in the 1980's to help point out and eliminate waste in government, these "second opinion" groups could help our elected officials do a better job and as the book points out "help promote policies and actions that serve the interests of the most people, rather than the narrow and partisan interests of a select few." It is just this kind of thinking that has been sorely lacking in Washington over the past several decades.
To sum up, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That Is Destroying America" is really not a bad book. However, if you happen to be someone who reads a lot and pays attention to what's going on then I suspect your time would probably be better spent reading something else. On the other hand, if you are one of those people who is just trying to get up to speed on some of these important issues then "Common Ground" would be a pretty good choice for you.
But now politics is not just about disagreeing with the other guy, it's about trying to personally destroy him, bankrupt him with legal fees or even put him in jail. Not surprisingly, it's a bit hard to find common ground in a system like that.
If you've ever wondered how we got into this mess -- and how we can get out of it -- Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel's book "Common Ground" will tell you. First, it traces the recent history of polarization in American politics, which has become so bad it's caused people in the middle to abandon the field to radicals on both sides.
And then it urges voters to seize the opportunity of the upcoming elections to change this. What we need, the authors point out, are more "radical moderates" (my term), voters who are a) motivated to take back politics from the fanatics and b) wise enough to understand how we've been manipulated into playing a destructive game that we're not going to play any more.
Some of the books recommendations:
* Realize that today's polarization is more about just holding onto power than solving problems most voters really care about. That candidates to vote for are the ones who have a demonstrated record of leadership in forging compromise to accomplish things, not ideologues who have a history of dividing us.
* Look for candidates who are willing to admit their opponents have at least some good ideas. And be particularly skeptical about the candidates who have nothing but negative ads.
* Press candidates for less scripted debates, and more questions between candidates and from the public. This means demanding that political consultants, worried about losing control, accept it, and demanding that the media refrain from trying to trick the candidates into "gotcha" moments.
* Look for candidates willing to put significant members of the other party into their administrations, and not just a few tokens as window dressing. This will cut down on the present situation in which much of what a new administration proposes is dead on arrival.
* Look not for candidates to run on common ground solutions to problems -- that will only upset their base voters -- but rather look for candidates who will use common ground processes once in office.
* Look for candidates who will not waste time fighting battles that cannot be won but who instead will address matters where there is already agreement that a problem exists and what goal needs to be reached to alleviate it. And look for candidates who bring fresh solutions to the table for this purpose.
* Repudiate the cynics who benefit financially from polarization, the party apparatchiks who use it to raise money, the political consultants who use it to land jobs, and the "bottom feeders" who push it to sell books or newspapers, get lucrative speaking gigs, and sell tickets.
In sum, a great book for an important time in our history and one that anyone interested in America's future should read.