An Optimistic Note: It is possible to overcome gridlock

Monday, March 5th, 2012

A Rare Example of Bipartisanship is an important article by David Ignatius in The Washington Post on how cooperation is possible even in the most gridlocked situations.  According to Ignatius, the House Intelligence Committee “used to be one of the meanest snake pits in Congress.” And now this committee works together to get vitally important work done. So, what did they do?

1. The chair, Rep. Mike Robers (R) and ranking Democratic member, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger work together. When Rogers was appointed chair he approached his colleague and suggested a truce.

2. They made a commitment to each other to “work together and not sandbag each other.”

3. They made some changes in committee staff.

4. They instructed their aides to brief members jointly. I suspect this eliminated the rumor mill and suspicion that others might be getting preferred treatment.

5. They held seminars for new members to get their buy-in.

6. They worked on ways to balance the desires of of very liberal and very conservative members.

7. They wanted “less partisan sniping – but also more aggressive oversight.” Not content with mere cooperation which could have results in weak decisions, they set the bar high – more aggressive oversight.

Ignatius suggests that this could be a model for the rest of our gridlocked Congress. I agree, and think this could be a model for removing trying to remove polarized thinking in organizations of all types.

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