Jeff Flake: Common Ground Might Be Dead in Washington, But It Is Alive and Well Everywhere Else

‘On city councils, in state legislatures, any kind of association or group people find common ground’

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DICKERSON: "So, you are joining CBS as a contributor. And I want to ask you about what you are going to be doing. You are going to be working on a series of pieces called looking for common ground."
FLAKE: "Right."
DICKERSON: "And so explain that but also explain that with respect to what you just said about how hard it is in Washington for people to find common ground, because the system and the structure of the place makes that impossible."
FLAKE: "Right. Well, common ground might be dead in Washington, but it's alive and well everywhere else. On city councils, in state legislatures, any kind of association or group people find common ground. It just often doesn’t translate into something in Washington. We see one great example of when it did. Criminal justice reform. That in Texas in particular, groups on, you know, the far side of the aisle from every side of the political spectrum came together; some wanted to save money, some wanted to make sure that people didn’t go back into a life of crime afterwards. Therefore, whatever reason they said we've got to quit building prisons. And so, they enacted common sense criminal justice reform in Texas. A few years later they closed eight prisons and the crime rate was still down. And we picked that up in Washington. It was one of the rare examples of where common ground found at the local level translated into action in Washington. There can be many more examples of that. And that's what this series will look at, those areas of common ground around the country."

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