ISSUE #4 – November 2021
No one wants a political shouting match to ruin the holidays, but the idea that we are too hopelessly polarized to have a reasonable conversation about politics is wrong. In fact, on many of our toughest issues, like health care, immigration, taxes and political reform, majorities of Americans–Republicans and Democrats–share a remarkable amount of common ground.
In-depth surveys show that Americans of both parties agree on many difficult issues, defying conventional wisdom. Find good political conversation fodder on our Common Ground of the American People website.
Net Neutrality Debate Back in the News
In 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made a proposal to repeal net neutrality rules—no longer requiring internet service providers to offer equal access to all web content—and asked for public comment.
In a landmark survey by the Program for Public Consultation, 86% of voters favored retaining net neutrality, including 82% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats. Nonetheless, the FCC proceeded to repeal net neutrality.
The Biden administration has nominated a new FCC chair, Jessica Rosenworcel, who has told senators she backs reinstating net neutrality rules. In addition, President Biden nominated former FCC staffer Gigi Sohn, who is also expected to push for net neutrality. Currently, the FCC is split 2-2 between Democrats and Republicans. If Biden’s nominees are confirmed, this will change the balance of the FCC and likely renew the net neutrality issue. Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell said she would likely hold a hearing on Sohn’s nomination and a committee vote on Rosenworcel’s nomination for FCC Chair in December.
Policymaking Simulation: Put yourself in the shoes of policymakers by trying our policymaking simulation on net neutrality. In this simulation, you’ll get a briefing on the issue, learn the arguments for and against net neutrality, and determine whether you favor or oppose the FCC’s ruling that reversed it. Once you finish the simulation, you’ll have a chance to send your recommendation to your Congresspeople..
Our Climate Analysis in The Washington Post
At the U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, President Biden presented the world with the steps the United States plans to take to reach its Paris Agreement goals. The Democratic Senator of West Virginia, Joe Manchin, has been pushing back against climate provisions in the Build Back Better bill, citing the consequences to his coal-producing state, while Republicans are united in opposing the package.
Interested in learning where the public stands on the Build Back Better bill’s proposed climate policies? Our analysis in the Washington Post lays out how bipartisan majorities support nearly all of them.
National deliberation in US reveals common ground on climate change policies
A large-scale public deliberation was recently conducted to answer the question: “What would the American public really think about our climate and energy challenges if it had the chance to deliberate about them in depth, with good and balanced information?” It was conducted by Stanford’s Center for Deliberative Democracy.
A nationally representative group of participants were provided an online briefing, with background information on energy and the environment, as well as a questionnaire with dozens of proposals to address climate change. The briefing and proposals were assembled by a team of energy and climate experts, from environmental, energy and business organizations. Participants were also given presentations by experts, and deliberated via video chat on the issues and the proposals using Stanford’s Online Deliberation Platform. At the end, they evaluated each proposal. A summary of the results can be found here.
It turns out that, majorities across the political and demographic spectrum agree on many proposals and goals to reduce greenhouse gases.
Another key question the researchers sought to answer was, how much did the deliberation process change people’s preferences, and did it result in more common ground? To do this, participants filled out the same questionnaire before they began the deliberation process. For nearly all the questions, “the participants changed significantly over the course of the deliberation toward wanting to do more to combat climate change.” While majorities of Democrats already supported nearly all the proposals, Republicans went from being majority-opposed to majority-supportive for several, including: putting a limit on the amount of greenhouse gases that electric companies can emit, and increasing energy-efficiency requirements for buildings.