I recently had the pleasure of meeting former Senator Bill Bradley along with my colleague Silona Bonewald, founder of the League of Technical Voters and the charismatic orchestrator of the 48-hour codeathon that darned near killed me. (But I’m hanging in with her and pleased that our next venture will only be a 24-hour venture!)
As a result of our meeting, Senator Bradley sent me a copy of his forthcoming book (due on March 27), “The New American Story.”
I find it fascinating because I think that he has given language and authority to something I and my National Issues Forums colleagues have long suspected, “One of the biggest lies perpetrated on the public in recent decades is the red/blue division of our country–the idea that we are hopelessly split by warring ideologies, unforgiving in our criticism of each other, unwilling even to listen to the other side of the argument.”
We NIF-ers and Texas Forums members know better because we have seen a hunger to talk with those whose views are different (sometimes dramatically) from our own. The American public hungers understanding.
When we first launched Texas Forums, it was January 2003 just as talk of war in Iraq was heating up. With little more than a simple web site consisting of half a dozen pages and small, fairly insular e-mail lists, we exceeded our capacity for workshops on how to moderate forums on Americans’ Role in the World. We added training as humanly possible in three short months and trained 56 moderators who conducted 36 forums using the NIF issue book.
Comments like, “I came here to listen and understand the other side and what is important to those who don’t think like me,” are examples of how (even in 2003) people did not want to be divided. They were seeking understanding and common ground! In other words, I think that they were seeking a new American Story…one that doesn’t pit us against each other, but a story that shows us at our best.
I’ve just started Bradley’s book, but I urge you to put it on your list. Perhaps we should organize an online book discussion club to discuss our ideas for the new American Story. Surely this is a prime opportunity in our nation’s history to not only discuss our vision for America, but to also take it to scale using the technologies we have that were unimaginable to our nation’s founders.