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Bipartisan politics takes center stage

Published by USC Bedrosian Center on

Two former Congressmen discussed opportunities for bipartisan leadership and how to build political consensus.

Two men who are supposed to be on opposite sides of the political fence brought a message of unity to the USC campus on Monday.

It’s time to get past partisan politics that are deeply dividing the country, they said.

David Jolly and Patrick Murphy, both former Congressman from each party representing districts in Florida, are working together and sharing their ideas on “Why Gridlock Rules Washington and How We Can Solve the Crisis.”

Abby Wood (USC Gould, moderator), Patrick Murphy, and David Jolly

“We’re here to pull the curtain back on some of the challenges to bipartisanship and opportunities to unwrap those challenges,” Jolly said at the panel sponsored by the Bedrosian Center on Governance of USC Price School of Public Policy. “At the end of the day, we’re really talking about how voters can create greater accountability for our elected officials.”

Washington has fallen into a stalemate with hyperpartisan politics that stem from long-standing disagreements.

And it starts at home where each party has made sure to gerrymander districts to guarantee election results, the two said.

It’s a basic structural issue that needs to be fixed, Jolly said.

Each election official is beholden to their party, making “your pathway to reelection as simple as  being a good partisan,” he said.

Any compromise with the other side means you’ve failed your party and “your political future comes down a little,” Jolly said.

The two men met in Congress and found they agreed on a number of issues.

“We had some very similar experiences,” Murphy said. “We realized that we actually agreed on a lot of issues. So why are they separating us? This is crazy.”

This is the main reason that Murphy and Jolly started their group, aiming at finding united solutions to common issues through bipartisanship.

“Bipartisanship is different than adopting an ideology where you have to be monitored,” Murphy said. “What we’re talking about is how we can create a playing field, a platform where all voices have a home from the left to the right.”

Murphy said the action to create the platform “is right in front of us”. Gridlock between party members has frustrated voters and that frustration can be turned into a constructive force.

“At the end of the day, we’ll have a government that we, as voters, are able to hold more accountable than in today’s system,” Murphy said.

Considering the effects of social media in the era of the internet, Jolly said people should understand how social media algorithms contribute to bias.

“Make sure wherever you are on the ideological spectrum or any walk of life, you’re pushing yourself to understand disparate points of view,” Jolly said. “It is rewarding to see people confirm your own beliefs, but it’s also important for our own growth intellectually and academically to make sure we’re approaching and understanding different points of view as well.”

Jolly is optimistic about the future of politics. He said young voters rejected the infrastructure of both major parties. An independent form of politics for this generation could emerge.

“This generation brings his energy,” Jolly said. “Whether their energy is deploying toward supporting Republicans, or Democrats or some types of independent parties,  I think these are the voices that can transform the next decade and we’re seeing a very healthy debate and we’re seeing high levels of involvement among younger voters.”

Bedrosian Center