Two Republicans and two Democrats, all former U.S. Senate Majority Leaders, have launched the Bipartisan Policy Center, a new organization with the noble goal of reversing the rise of poisonous rancor that permeates the halls of Congress these days. As political elders, Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell also intend to forge bipartisan policy solutions that could address critical national challenges…
“Many Americans are concerned that today’s ultra-partisan political atmosphere is poisoning our national dialogue and preventing us from confronting the difficult problems,” Senator Baker said. “We believe the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) can help create common sense solutions to key national challenges, and can help foster a return to more civil political debate.”
“We don’t have Republican problems and Democratic problems, we have American problems,” said Senator Daschle. “National security, economic competitiveness, fiscal responsibility, education, the environment — these are national challenges that affect all Americans. We need to solve them together.”
The foundation-sponsored organization, utilizing a staff of 20 and a budget of $7 million a year, will try to demonstrate that evidenced-based, collaborative approaches can gain the public and political momentum needed to forge political consensus. The BPC is not a traditional think tank. Instead it seeks to develop coalitions to influence national debates. The group has chosen to begin with energy policy, agriculture policy, and national security (but only on nonmilitary uses of American power and influence). Additions, such as health care, might be added in the coming year.
“Political parties are key to our democracy — but we have to work together more often. The challenges America faces are extremely serious, but they can be overcome. Earlier generations have confronted great challenges and met them with bravery and shared conviction. Americans are prepared to work together to solve the great problems we face today. It’s time for Washington to join them.” said Senator Dole.
“William Butler Yeats once said, ‘the center will not hold’ — unfortunately that’s the situation facing our country right now,” Senator Mitchell said. “We believe that the center must not only hold, but must lead, if we are to set America on a successful course for the 21st century. The BPC will act as bipartisan refuge where the best minds and ideas from both parties can be brought together to develop viable and sensible solutions that can gain political traction.”
The former Majority Leaders will advise the organization on its overall direction and agenda. All BPC projects will be politically balanced, evidence-based, and designed to have a meaningful impact on the national policy debate. The goal is not to find common ground on every single issue, but to focus on a few issues upon which a majority in Congress might agree.