A 2017 study found both liberals and conservatives are similarly inclined to avoid hearing the other side. Just this summer, Pew Research Center discovered that three in five Americans believe people’s trust in each other is declining—with 70 percent saying distrust is standing in the way of solving problems. It’s enough to wonder if we’re still capable of coming together, and new research and reporting initiative seeks to answer that question.
Public Agenda and USA Today launched the Hidden Common Ground 2020 Initiative (HCG) with support from partners such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Charles Koch Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation:
“Through this first phase of Hidden Common Ground 2020 research, we will explore the ways in which divisiveness, especially political divisiveness, undermines the ability of Americans to talk and work together to address pressing problems,” said Will Friedman, president of Public Agenda. “We want to learn how people experience and think about this issue, how it manifests in their lives and communities, and what they think we ought to do to bridge our ‘collaborative divides.’”
HCG will focus on high-priority issues such as health care, immigration, and economic opportunity, with in-depth research into the public’s views conducted by Public Agenda accompanied by original reporting by USA Today. The first research report, focusing on divisiveness and collaboration in America, will be released in early December.
“To build bridges across divides you first need to discover where the divides are,” said Sarah Ruger, the Charles Koch Institute’s director of free expression. “This research will surface the divides as well as the areas of mutual interest for dialogue and cooperation, and the coverage will shine a light on where it’s already happening in way that inspires hope.”