Common ground is difficult to establish without a shared vision of reality. Who wants to find common ground with alternative facts, science deniers, liars and those who would trample the golden rule for a tax rebate. We cannot get past extreme polarization unless we find some core values that define what is good and true that we agree on. If we cannot agree that facts matter in our public discourse, we are lost.
In terms of defining what is true we have traditionally used logic and science. Science is a study method which opens itself to criticism and scrutiny with an intent to understand, not to be confused with technology. (Technology is creating products based on scientific knowledge that can be marketed.) Both the extreme right and the left can be science deniers. There are climate science deniers and anti vaccine campaigners. This is not to imply moral equivalency, one is more destructive than the other.
To define what is good we use the golden rule; treat others the way you want to be treated. Throughout history, most cultures and religions embrace this standard. People we admire embrace this rule. If we believe the golden rule, we want everyone to have equal access to justice, healthcare, education, housing and a living wage job. There are failings on both the right and the left. One side defines people with less material “success” as lazy and stupid while the other side blames society for every poor decision. Again no moral equivalency, one is more cruel than the other. We all know that who you are born to, determining both genetics and environment is important, but so is personal accountability. Discounting either erodes credibility and makes finding common ground difficult.
We all understand fairness. It is the basis for most law and what the golden rule addresses. If people are not treated fairly whatever the reason (country of origin, race, religion, sexual preference, income, status, occupation) there will be anger and frustration. Common ground will be hard to find.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. Opinions not consistent with the facts are wrong. Allowing both sides equal voice is not fair and balanced if one side is incorrect or is lying. Treating knowledge and lack of understanding as equals undermines the good intent necessary to establish common ground.
When 1% of the population gets all the new wealth and the other 99% does the work, it amounts to a predator-prey relationship. Low wage workers subsidize all of us with lower cost goods. They especially subsidize business owners by increasing profits. The working poor are the biggest philanthropists of our society.
Quit believing that billionaires have your best interest at heart. Most of them got to be billionaires by preying on people like you. A predator-prey relationship is not conducive to common ground.
At some point, the problem ceases to be the ignorant and dishonest leaders and becomes the responsibility of those who vote for them and make excuses for them.
Free speech of all perspectives, as opposed to speech designed to incite violence or yelling fire in a crowded theater, must be protected. Free speech problems are best solved through open debate; more free speech. Let opinions and ideas stand or fail based on their merit in public discourse. The right to peaceful protest must also be zealously protected. If people do not feel heard they will become violent. “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.” John F. Kennedy.
Obviously people with more wealth and power have more opportunities to impact things and therefore, more responsibility. Most of the welfare in this country goes to large corporations and the wealthiest people. They receive tax breaks, subsidies, charge excessively for government contracts, off shore profits, and get us to subsidize their poorly paid workers via food stamps, medical assistance. The rich are the ultimate welfare queens.
Why do we think business people will solve social problems? Their focus is not the common good, they are interested in profits and wealth accumulation.
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Mother Teresa.