Center Aisle Caucus brings bipartisan civility to congress

You likely have heard a lot about the Tea Party Caucus, the progressive caucus and the Republican study committee, all of which are groups in congress which promote certain ideological viewpoints. One of our readers recently pointed out that there is now a "Center Aisle Caucus", started by Steve Israel, a Democrat from Long Island, and Tim Johnson, a Republican from Illinois. From this Washington Post article:

Johnson, who for years has made dozens of random phone calls every day to his Illinois constituents, said that "the message I hear over and over from the folks back home is, 'You are the 435 most powerful people in Washington. Why do you act like third-graders? Why don't you ever find out what you agree on?' " Their conversation became the spur for the formation earlier this year of what they call the Center Aisle Caucus, a forum for communication across party lines. In a few months the invited membership has grown to 47, roughly balanced between the parties. The founders say they have turned down some applicants, because — as Israel put it — "we don't want people who will put it on their rsum and then go out and act like flame-throwers on the floor." "We know that most Republicans and most Democrats will take different positions maybe 70 percent of the time," Johnson said. "But if we could find ways of at least talking about the other 30 percent, the country would be 100 percent better off than it is now."

The group has even held a joint townhall meeting. Conflict sells newspapers and we're likely to continually hear about conflict between partisans. Unfortunately, social psychology research tells us that the enemy of our friend is likely to be thought of as an enemy as well, and so if all we hear is about division and partisanship in congress, it will likely exacerbate incivility amongst us all. Perhaps by consciously focusing on groups like the Center Aisle Caucus, rather than letting the extremes of both parties have all the attention, we can reduce some of the needless partisanship that prevents people from moving toward common ground and actually trying to solve some of our nation's issues. – Ravi Iyer