Blog: Promoting Civil Discourse in Washington, D.C.

Mon, 2019-08-19

By Bennett Adamson, rising University of Arizona SBS Senior, ASUA Executive Vice President, and Bobcat

Washington, D.C., is designed to impress. The marble buildings – in their neoclassical style – dissolve the distance of time and space that separates the United States from the great, ancient republics of Greece and Rome. As anyone who has visited knows, walking amidst the statues and sculptures named for the people who helped build the country is an awe inspiring and humbling experience. I can’t say I’ve grown accustomed to the sight of the Washington Monument towering over the national mall, but after a summer living “inside the beltway” its presence in the skyline is now familiar. The monuments have begun to seem more like old friends.

I’ve spent the last two and a half months interning for the National Institute for Civil Discourse, just a few blocks from the White House. The NICD was founded in 2011, at the urging of Congresswoman Gaby Giffords, to study the increasing partisan polarization in the country, to find ways to bridge divides, and to foster bipartisan cooperation in the spirit of working across the aisle. The founding co-chairs were Presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush.

As a Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law major with a keen interest in public policy, I’ve come to recognize the importance of interdisciplinarity. Thinking about problems from multiple perspectives, appreciating diversity, and recognizing the value of competing opinions leads to better, and more broadly supported, solutions. Yet, I think our current political climate demonstrates that elected officials at the local, state, and national level are more often concerned with campaign rhetoric and nailing the right sound bite than meaningfully advancing policy discussions. I wanted to help in the effort that NICD is championing to correct that dynamic.