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Tired of all the hyper-partisanship?
Let's do something about it!

Our National Conversation

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How We Can Defeat Toxic Partisanship

The world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket.


We see wars, corruption, political dysfunction and the prospect of an environmental apocalypse.


Add to this income inequality, racial injustice and an attempt by a U.S. president to steal an election. 


Everybody’s mad. It goes beyond anger—many now hate each other. The truly crazy take their rage out on school children and others, using AR-15s.


It’s hard to believe, but clever candidates, media outlets, social media platforms and bloggers MAKE MONEY off all this anger. Is it any surprise trust in media is at an all-time low?


Many are giving up hope. America seems depressed. Suicides, obesity and addiction are way up.


There is an old saying, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” 


Is it possible we have bottomed out—or soon will?  And that some kind of turnaround is about to begin?


Something’s Happening Here


Check out this link to an e-newsletter I received the other day, from CivicHealthProject.org.


The Civic Health Project incubates promising nonprofits in the “let’s save democracy” space. The headline of this e-newsletter is “Reasons to Feel Hopeful.” I found it uplifting.


The newsletter will take you a few minutes to read because there’s so much in there. You will learn of a group called Unite, an organization trying to change the way we view each other—and talk about each other.


Check out the mention of Living Room Conversations. This idea seems like a no-brainer.


The e-newsletter contains a link to a CBS segment that recently ran on The American Exchange Project, or AEP. AEP pays the expenses of high schoolers from across the country to gather in one place and get to know one another. These young Americans explore differences—and commonalities. 


There are lots more groups out there doing amazing things—almost too many to count. Clearly, something is going on contrary to the “America is doomed” narrative. But many Americans don’t know this—at least not yet.


At ONC, We’re Trying to Be Helpful


At OUR NATIONAL CONVERSATION, or ONC for short, we present a balanced mix of news, opinions and policy proposals from across the political spectrum. Republicans, Democrats, Independents—all are welcome at ONC. Our goal is to get America talking again, with a focus on problem-solving, not finger-pointing.


For the last three years, some experienced professionals and I have mentored a small army of Gen Z students as we built ONC. Over 650 students from 275 campuses, guided by 175 experienced professionals, built a website, OurNationalConversation.org.


We also wrote a book, “Let’s Fix America,” available on Amazon. “Let’s Fix America” is filled with 34 nonpartisan solutions to the biggest problems facing America. Americans agree on a lot, really; we focused on ideas that polls tell us 60% or more of Americans could get behind.


At ONC, our students are now producing podcasts, videos and e-newsletters. Things are starting to come together; people are taking notice. People tell us they like what we’re doing.


The Baby Boomers and Gen Z: a Potentially Powerful Alliance


As a result of OUR NATIONAL CONVERSATION, I think I’ve gotten to know members of Gen Z pretty well. They are scared about the future—just as we Baby Boomers were scared when we were the same age.


Gen Z grew up worrying about campus shootings, climate change, recessions, COVID and racial strife; we witnessed assassination after assassination, Vietnam and Watergate—and yes, racial strife, the issue that never seems to go away.


A big difference between the two generations—we Boomers thought we really would change the world. We had our "enough" moment and rose up. Based on our inflated sense of self, we were quite bold in our approach. There was an explosion of creativity that impacted decades to follow.


Members of Gen Z seem much more cautious, by comparison.


Some think this is because Gen Z grew up with social media, which offers the potential for ridicule or cancellation on a grand scale for saying something dumb. Another theory is that Gen Z’s “helicopter parents” simply wouldn’t allow their kids to take risks, so today's young Americans don’t know how to do that. Or maybe Gen Z has good reason to be scared.


But scared people generally aren’t bold people.


We will need bold leadership in the years ahead. The good side of Gen Z’s caution is that they are far more practical than we were when we were their age. Boomers talked a good game; maybe Gen Z will actually get the job done. Gen Z is also unbelievably collaborative. They are great at teamwork. There is no hint of racism or other forms of intolerance. That offers hope for the future.


The Boomers at ONC see the development of America’s future leaders as a big part of our mission. "We're not done yet" is one of our mantras. We learn from our students, too—daily.


Today’s young Americans certainly have the tools to solve just about any problem they might face. Once students know it’s OK to take risks, we find they let loose more. We are told often by our students that the conversations we host at OUR NATIONAL CONVERSATION are much freer than the discussions that take place back on campus.


Some of our students could go on to become president one day, I swear. That gives more reason for hope.


It might take us years to dig ourselves out of this hole, but we need to start somewhere. We owe it to past, present and future generations to at least try.


The Pendulum is About to Swing


People are tired of all the bickering. Many of us have lost friends because of today’s political divide.


I think America is rapidly approaching a “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore” moment.  


Let’s be ready when that moment arrives.


This is where you come in. Maybe you’d like to mentor our students. Maybe you'd like to intern for us. Maybe you’d like to be a guest on one of our podcasts. Maybe you’d like to donate to our cause. We are organizing OUR NATIONAL CONVERSATION as a nonprofit; more on our fundraising plans soon.


If you think OUR NATIONAL CONVERSATION makes sense—and you’d like to join the quest—please get in touch: leave a comment below this article or send an email to editor@ournationalconversation.org.


If you think this all sounds hopelessly idealistic, let me ask you a very practical question: have you got a better idea? If your idea is better, we're all in!


If you are in the "let's save democracy" or "let's clean up journalism" space—or just curious—and if you think there might be a way we can work together, let's explore that.


E pluribus unum—"out of many, one."


Thank you for listening. Let’s get America talking again!

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