Keith Allred on Dialogue


ANNOUNCER: PRESENTATION OF DIALOGUE ON IDAHO PUBLIC TELEVISION IS MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH THE GENEROUS SUPPORT OF THE LAURA MOORE CUNNINGHAM FOUNDATION, COMMITTED TO FULFILLING THE MOORE AND BETTIS FAMILY LEGACY OF BUILDING THE GREAT STATE OF IDAHO, BY THE FRIENDS OF IDAHO PUBLIC TELEVISION, BY THE CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING AND BY THE IDAHO PUBLIC TELEVISION ENDOWMENT. KEITH ALLRED: IT’S BEEN THE DRIVING PASSION OF MY ENTIRE ADULT LIFE, MY ENTIRE CAREER. AND I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE OPTIMISTIC THAN I AM TODAY. MARCIA FRANKLIN, HOST: COMING UP: HOW CAN AMERICANS STOP YELLING AT EACH OTHER AND START LISTENING TO ONE ANOTHER, OR EVEN WORKING TOGETHER TO SOLVE PROBLEMS? MY GUEST TODAY IS AN IDAHO NATIVE WHO SAYS IT MAY NOT BE AS DIFFICULT AS YOU THINK. AND HE’S BRINGING HIS IDEAS TO A NATIONAL STAGE. A CONVERSATION WITH KEITH ALLRED, THE NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR CIVIL DISCOURSE. THAT’S DIALOGUE, NEXT. STAY TUNED. (MUSIC) MARCIA FRANKLIN: HELLO AND WELCOME TO DIALOGUE; I’M MARCIA FRANKLIN. STUDIES SHOW THAT MEMBERS OF CONGRESS ARE NOW MORE POLARIZED THAN THEY’VE EVER BEEN. BUT ARE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE THAT DIVIDED AS WELL? MY GUEST TODAY SAYS THAT DESPITE SOCIAL MEDIA RANTS AND SHOUTFESTS ON 24-HOUR CABLE TV, MOST AMERICANS SHARE MANY VIEWS IN COMMON. IT MAY JUST DEPEND ON HOW YOU ASK THE QUESTION AND HOW CLOSELY YOU LISTEN. KEITH ALLRED HAS ALREADY TESTED SOME OF HIS IDEAS IN HIS HOME STATE OF IDAHO WITH A FIVE-YEAR POLITICAL EXPERIMENT CALLED THE COMMON INTEREST. NOW HE’S BROADENING THAT TEMPLATE OUT TO THE WHOLE COUNTRY WITH AN INITIATIVE CALLED COMMONSENSE AMERICAN. AND WITH A BRAND NEW JOB AS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR CIVIL DISCOURSE, HE HAS A PLATFORM FOR THAT EFFORT. NOW KEITH ALLRED IS A GRADUATE OF TWIN FALLS HIGH SCHOOL. HE RECEIVED AN UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE FROM STANFORD UNIVERSITY AND A PH.D. FROM UCLA. A TRAINED MEDIATOR MR. ALLRED CONDUCTED RESEARCH ON CONFLICT RESOLUTION WHILE AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY AND WAS A PROFESSOR AT HARVARD UNIVERSITY’S KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT. SOME OF YOU MAY ALSO REMEMBER HIM FROM HIS RUN FOR GOVERNOR IN 2010 AGAINST BUTCH OTTER, WHO WON THAT ELECTION. AND KEITH ALLRED JOINS ME NOW IN THE DIALOGUE STUDIO. WELCOME. KEITH ALLRED: THANKS, MARCIA. GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN. FRANKLIN: WELL, “AGAIN” — THAT’S RIGHT. I SHOULD SAY “WELCOME BACK,” BECAUSE 14 YEARS AGO YOU AND I DID A PROGRAM, A DIALOGUE PROGRAM, ON THE COMMON INTEREST. SO THIS HAS BEEN A PASSION OF YOURS FOR A LONG TIME, PRIOR TO YOU RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR, AND NOW YOU’VE LEFT IDAHO TO PURSUE THIS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR POSITION IN THIS AREA. SO MUST STILL BE VERY IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO MOVE YOUR WHOLE FAMILY TO IDAHO FROM — TO WASHINGTON D.C. FROM IDAHO. ALLRED: YEAH, REALLY TOUGH. I’M A FIFTH-GENERATION IDAHO, AND YOU KNOW, RESIGNED THE POSITION AT HARVARD TO COME BACK AND RAISE OUR KIDS HERE AND LAUNCH THE COMMON INTEREST. AND, UH, SO IT WAS SO TOUGH. YOU KNOW, WE HAD FIVE ACRES IN EAGLE AND OUR HORSES AND SO SOLD THAT AND SOLD OUR HORSES, AND WE WOULDN’T HAVE DONE THAT LIGHTLY; IT TOOK A REALLY COMPELLING OPPORTUNITY TO CONVINCE US TO DO THAT. FRANKLIN: SO WHAT, WHAT CONVINCED YOU? WHAT, WHAT, WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS OPPORTUNITY THAT MADE YOU MOVE? ALLRED: YEAH. SO I THINK IT WAS A COMBINATION OF A COUPLE OF THINGS. ONE IS — THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR CIVIL DISCOURSE I REALLY BELIEVE IS THE ORGANIZATION BEST POSITIONED IN THE COUNTRY TO WORK ON THE DECLINE IN CIVILITY, THE KIND OF RANCOR ACROSS THE PARTISAN DIVIDE. SECOND PIECE IS JUST THAT HISTORICAL MOMENT. REALLY STARTING IN 2016 WITH THE PRIMARIES — I WAS HERE WORKING WITH MWI DOING A POST-MERGER INTEGRATION YOU KNOW WORKING ACROSS THE COUNTRY OPTIMIZING WAREHOUSES AND TRUCK ROUTES. AND SO TALKING TO TRUCK DRIVERS AND WAREHOUSE CREWS AND EXECUTIVES. FRANKLIN: AND MWI IS A VETERINARY SUPPLY COMPANY. ALLRED: VETERINARY SUPPLY COMPANY HERE IN BOISE. AND I JUST STARTED TO HEAR PEOPLE TALK POLITICS A LOT MORE — PEOPLE WHO WEREN’T POLITICAL. AND LEFT, RIGHT OR CENTER, THEY WERE JUST DEEPLY FRUSTRATED WITH WHAT THEY WERE SEEING IN BOTH PRIMARIES. FRANKLIN: WHICH IS POTENTIALLY ALSO WHY PRESIDENT TRUMP GOT ELECTED BECAUSE OF THIS FRUSTRATION. ALLRED: HE WAS HE WAS CERTAINLY DRAWING ON THAT. AND AS I HEARD THAT I STARTED TO FEEL LIKE, YOU KNOW, IT IS MORE POSSIBLE NOW TO LAUNCH A FEDERAL VERSION OF WHAT WE DID HERE IN IDAHO. BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DAY FOR IT TO SUCCEED WE HAVE TO REALLY BE ABLE TO SIGN UP A WHOLE BUNCH OF AMERICANS TO DO THIS. I STARTED TO FEEL LIKE PEOPLE ARE DEEPLY CONCERNED ENOUGH THAT I THINK MAYBE YOU CAN DO THAT. AND SINCE 2016 IT’S JUST CONTINUED TO GET WORSE. SO THAT COMBINATION OF AN NICD BEING ONE OF THE BEST PLATFORMS IN THE COUNTRY, AND THE HISTORICAL MOMENT THAT WE’RE IN, I SAID, “THIS IS A REALLY UNUSUAL OPPORTUNITY AND WE’VE GOT TO SEIZE IT.” . FRANKLIN: AND WE DON’T HAVE A LOT OF TIME TO GO INTO THE SPECIFICS OF WHAT THE COMMON INTEREST IN IDAHO WAS AND WHAT YOU WANT TO DO WITH COMMONSENSE AMERICAN. BUT IN ESSENCE IT’S GETTING CITIZENS TOGETHER, PICKING ISSUES FOR THEM, AND BRIEFING THOSE ISSUES AND HAVING THEM COME TO A CONSENSUS TOGETHER — PEOPLE FROM ALL DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS — ON WHAT POSITION THEY WANT TO TAKE. AND THEN PRESENTING THAT TO THE POWERS-THAT-BE. ALLRED: YEAH, PRESENTING AND CHAMPIONING IT. THE BASIC IDEA IS: CAN WE IDENTIFY AND THEN CHAMPION SOLUTIONS WISE ENOUGH TO GET SUPPORT ACROSS THE PARTISAN DIVIDE? AND SOMETIMES WE DON’T. SOMETIMES, YOU KNOW EVEN IF WE GET INFORMED AND HAVE GOOD BRIEFS THERE’S JUST NOT AGREEMENT. SO WE SAY, “OK WE’RE NOT READY TO MOVE ON THAT.” BUT THERE ARE MORE OF THOSE THAN WE THINK WHERE WE CAN IDENTIFY SOME SOLUTIONS THAT WILL ATTRACT THAT BROAD SUPPORT. SO WE NEED TO IDENTIFY THEM AS CITIZENS. AND THEN WE NEED TO CHAMPION THEM. IT’S NOT ENOUGH JUST TO DO THAT. BUT THEN WE’VE GOT TO ENGAGE WITH CONGRESS TO SAY, “HEY WE THINK THIS WORKS AND WE, WE NEED TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM IN THIS WAY.” FRANKLIN: ALMOST LIKE ANOTHER PARTY IN A WAY — LIKE A CITIZENS PARTY. MAYBE. (LAUGHS.) ALLRED: YOU KNOW THEY USED TO…HERE IN IDAHO THEY USED TO CALL THE COMMON INTEREST THE “ANTI-SPECIAL INTEREST SPECIAL INTEREST.” YOU KNOW, WE’RE SORT OF THE ANTI-PARTY PARTY. THE POINT IS TO FIND BROADLY SUPPORTED SOLUTIONS, SOLUTIONS THAT DON’T JUST ATTRACT THE BASE OF ONE PARTY OR THE OTHER. FRANKLIN: WELL, LET’S TALK ABOUT THE POLITICAL LANDSCAPE IN THE POWER STRUCTURE, RIGHT, RIGHT NOW IN CONGRESS. ARE WE IN FACT MORE POLARIZED THAN WE EVER HAVE BEEN? AND THAT, AND WHAT DATA SHOW THAT? AS I UNDERSTAND IT THERE’S THESE “NOMINATE” SCORES THAT SHOW THIS POLARIZATION IN ACTUAL DATA SET. ALLRED: YEAH. TWO POLITICAL SCIENTISTS HAVE COME UP WITH AN INGENIOUS WAY OF ANALYZING THE MORE THAN 13 MILLION ROLL CALL VOTES THAT HAVE BEEN CAST SINCE 1789. AND THEY GIVE EVERY REPRESENTATIVE AND SENATOR A SCORE FROM NEGATIVE 1 TO POSITIVE 1 –LEFT TO RIGHT. AND THEN YOU CAN TAKE THE AVERAGE SCORE FOR EACH PARTY AND LOOK AT THE DIFFERENCE — HOW FAR APART THE AVERAGE IS. AND IF YOU LOOK AT THAT FOR THE 230 YEARS WE’VE BEEN OPERATING UNDER THE CONSTITUTION, THE 114TH CONGRESS THAT WRAPPED UP IN 2016 BROKE THE RECORD THAT HAD STOOD FOR 218 YEARS. SO WE ARE NOW QUANTIFIABLY — THE VOTING IN THE CONGRESS IS THE MOST PARTY-LINE IT HAS EVER BEEN. FRANKLIN: IN OTHER WORDS PEOPLE USED TO CROSS OVER. I MEAN CIVIL RIGHTS LEGISLATION WOULDN’T HAVE PASSED IF CONSERVATIVES HADN’T SWITCHED OVER. MAYBE THEY GOT SOMETHING FOR THEIR VOTE OR WHATEVER, BUT THAT IS — WE’RE NOW STAYING IN OUR, IN THE CAMPS MORE. AND AS I UNDERSTAND IT THERE AREN’T AS MANY MODERATES IN EACH PARTY THAT USED TO CROSS OVER. ALLRED: EXACTLY. AND THIS HAS BEEN A 40-YEAR TREND. SO IT’S SPIKING NOW, BUT IT STARTED IN THE LATE 70S. IN THE 1977-78 CONGRESS, THERE WERE 18 SENATORS IN THE OVERLAP RANGE. THAT IS — OF REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS WHO OVERLAPPED IN THOSE NOMINATE SCORES. SO IT WAS — VIRTUALLY 20 PERCENT OF THE SENATE WAS OVERLAP. AND MORE BROADLY, BOTH POLITICAL PARTIES HAD A RANGE OF CONSERVATIVES, MODERATES AND LIBERALS. IN THOSE DAYS YOU HAD A LOT OF LIBERAL NORTHERN REPUBLICANS, A LOT OF CONSERVATIVE SOUTHERN DEMOCRATS. AND SO YOU HAD TO WORK TO DEFINE, TO FIND BROADLY SUPPORTED SOLUTIONS WITHIN YOUR PARTY BECAUSE THERE WAS DIVERSITY WITHIN YOUR PARTY. AND THEN THE TWO PARTIES COULD WORK TOGETHER BETTER. STARTING IN THE LATE 70S, THE PARTIES STARTED TO SORT IDEOLOGICALLY, SO THAT CONSERVATIVES AND MODERATES WERE NO LONGER WELCOME IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. LIBERALS AND MODERATES WERE NO LONGER WELCOME IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. AND SO THE PARTIES TODAY ARE NOT INTERESTED IN BROADLY SUPPORTED SOLUTIONS THE WAY THEY USED TO BE. FRANKLIN: AND YOU CONTEND THAT THEY’RE NOT EVEN REFLECTIVE OF THE AMERICAN POPULACE. ALLRED: YEAH. FRANKLIN: THAT THE AMERICAN POPULACE ACTUALLY IS MORE MODERATE THAN THE PEOPLE IT ELECTS. ALLRED: YES, AND AGAIN OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE ON THAT. I’LL GIVE YOU JUST A COUPLE OF PIECES. FRANKLIN: MAYBE ONE. (LAUGHS) ALLRED: THE MOST OBVIOUS IS 42 PERCENT OF AMERICANS ARE INDEPENDENTS AND THERE’S LIKE TWO OR THREE INDEPENDENTS IN THE CONGRESS AND NEITHER ONE OF THEM ARE CENT…AND NONE OF THEM ARE CENTRIST. FRANKLIN: BERNIE SANDERS. ALLRED: RIGHT. SO YOU KNOW, THERE ARE MORE INDEPENDENTS THAN THERE ARE REPUBLICANS OR DEMOCRATS. REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS ARE BOTH MINORITIES, FAIRLY SMALL MINORITIES. FRANKLIN: YEAH, IT’S INTERESTING THAT THE PARTIES ARE MINORITY COMPARED TO PEOPLE WHO DECLARE THEMSELVES INDEPENDENT. ALLRED: RIGHT. AND THEN OF COURSE THOSE IN THE CONGRESS TEND TO BE MORE EXTREME THAN THE AVERAGE REPUBLICAN OR THE AVERAGE DEMOCRAT. SO WE HAVE REALLY CEDED THE POWER TO THE EXTREMES IN THIS COUNTRY. FRANKLIN: WHILE THE AMERICAN POPULACE AS YOU SAY IS MORE IN THE MODERATE OR INDEPENDENT CAMP, WE’RE SEEING A LOT OF FLAME THROWING, THOUGH, ON BOTH SIDES. DO YOU THINK THAT THAT’S JUST BECAUSE SOCIAL MEDIA HEIGHTENS OUR SENSE OF WHAT’S OUT THERE, AND, AND PEOPLE REALLY ARE MORE MODERATE AND CIVIL AND IT’S JUST AGAIN – PEOPLE INDIVIDUALS ON BOTH ENDS THAT ARE SPEWING THIS KIND OF STUFF? ALLRED: YEAH. FRANKLIN: OR IS IT REALLY THAT WE ARE GETTING AS A PEOPLE, HARSHER? ALLRED: THE POLARIZATION STARTED BEFORE SOCIAL MEDIA. SO IT’S NOT THE DEEP CAUSE OF IT, BUT IT’S A REINFORCER I THINK. AND IT REINFORCES THIS MISPERCEPTION…. FRANKLIN: SOCIAL MEDIA DOES. ALLRED: SOCIAL MEDIA DOES…THAT WE’RE MORE POLARIZED THAN WE ARE. BECAUSE THE FOLKS WHO POST POLITICALLY TEND TO BE MORE EXTREME IN THEIR VIEWS. THE MODERATES AND CENTRISTS JUST DON’T POST POLITICALLY VERY MUCH. AND SO THEY — THE EXTREMES HAVE AN OUTSIZE IMPRESSION ON US, AND THEY MAKE IT ON THE NEWS MORE. THEY’RE SHOWING UP TO MARCHES, THEY’RE SHOWING UP TO CAMPAIGNS; THEY’RE PROTESTING. AND SO THE MEDIA — SOCIAL MEDIA OR TRADITIONAL MEDIA– ARE PAYING MORE ATTENTION TO THE EXTREMES. AND SO THERE’S A SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY THERE THAT YOU SEE THAT AND YOU THINK, OH MY GOSH, WE ARE REALLY POLARIZED AS A COUNTRY AND I DON’T FEEL THAT EXTREME; I MUST BE IN A SMALL MINORITY.” BUT THAT’S NOT THE CASE. BUT BECAUSE YOU THINK IT’S THE CASE YOU SAY, “WHAT’S THE POINT?” AND YOU, AND YOU, SORT OF DON’T, DON’T ENGAGE. YOU THROW UP YOUR HANDS A LITTLE BIT. FRANKLIN: WELL, LET’S TALK ABOUT CIVIL DISCOURSE. YOU WORK FOR THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR CIVIL DISCOURSE. IT’S KIND OF A – I DON’T KNOW. THE PHRASE IS KIND OF. ALLRED: SO HERE’S HOW I’VE PUT IT, MARCIA. FRANKLIN: I DON’T KNOW IF IT’S BORING, OR KIND OF A TECHIE — OR TECHNICAL — BUT IT DOESN’T ALWAYS INSPIRE ENTHUSIASM I THINK IN PEOPLE TO WANT IT…AND IT SOUNDS SO POLITE. ALLRED: YOU KNOW, I HAVE SAID THIS TO THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR CIVIL DISCOURSE FOR THEIR ENTIRE EXISTENCE. SO I, I HAD THE PLEASURE OF MODERATING THEIR FIRST BIG MEETING. CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS WELCOMED US TO THE U.S. SUPREME COURT AND WE HAD 50 OR 60 REAL LUMINARIES IN THE ROOM AND I MODERATED A DISCUSSION ABOUT WHAT IF ANYTHING CAN NICD DO ABOUT IT. I DIDN’T SAY IT QUITE THIS BLUNTLY IN THE GENERAL MEETING, BUT IN PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS I SAID “NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR CIVIL DISCOURSE — THAT COULD SOUND LIKE A BUNCH OF ACADEMICS WHO WERE GOING TO TALK NICE ABOUT TALKING NICE.” AND I SAID, “YOU KNOW I THINK WE ALL KNOW THAT WHAT AILS THE COUNTRY IS DEEPER THAN THAT AND THE MEDICINE WILL NEED TO BE STRONGER THAN JUST TALKING NICE TO EACH OTHER.” I’VE BEEN IMPRESSED WITH THE WORK OF NICD UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF DR. CAROLYN LUKENSMEYER WHO PRECEDED ME THAT IT HAS BEEN MUCH MORE SUBSTANTIVE THAN THAT. SO IT’S NOT ABOUT TALKING NICE ABOUT EACH OTHER AND IT’S NOT PRETENDING THAT WE DON’T HAVE REAL DIFFERENCES. THE POINT IS WE NEED TO ENGAGE ACROSS THOSE DIFFERENCES, BUT ENGAGE WITH CIVILITY AND RESPECT, SEEKING TO UNDERSTAND THE MERITS AND THE OTHER SIDE, NOT JUST ASSUMING THAT BECAUSE THEY HOLD A DIFFERENT VIEW THAN I DO THAT THEY’RE BAD PEOPLE, AND SEEKING TO FIND THE MERIT. NOW WHEN WE DO THAT WE DON’T ALWAYS THEN AGREE AT THE END OF THAT WE MIGHT STILL DISAGREE WITH EACH OTHER BUT WE FIND THERE’S A WHOLE PERSON ON THE OTHER SIDE OF IT. AND THAT IS ESSENTIAL. IT’S NEVER GOING TO WORK FOR ONE THIRD OF THE COUNTRY OR LESS THAT CONSTITUTES THE BASE OF EACH PARTY TO BE ABLE TO IMPOSE THEIR VISION FOR THE COUNTRY ON EVERYBODY ELSE. WE HAVE TO FIND THOSE BROADLY SUPPORTED SOLUTIONS. FRANKLIN: TO SCALE SOMETHING UP… ALLRED: SCALING IS…. FRANKLIN: …FROM, YOU KNOW, SMALL CONVERSATIONS ABOUT WHAT TO DO IN A COMMUNITY WHERE PEOPLE CAN SIT AND THEY KNOW “OH, YOU, YOU KNOW MY UNCLE OR WHATEVER; I GET MY STUFF DRY-CLEANED AT YOUR PLACE.” THAT SEEMS DOABLE. BUT TO SCALE THIS UP TO A NATIONAL LEVEL AND GET EVERYONE TO PLAY WELL WITH EACH OTHER SOUNDS PRETTY HARD TO ME. ALLRED: PRECISELY. SCALING IS THE CHALLENGE. WE, AT THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR CIVIL DISCOURSE, WE’VE PROBABLY TOUCHED 25,000 MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC IN OUR VARIOUS SORTS OF WAYS OF, YOU KNOW, HELPING THEM ENGAGE EACH OTHER, AND THEN THEY COME OUT WITH THAT EXPERIENCE OF, “OH I HAVE RESPECT AND EVEN FRIENDSHIP ACROSS THE DIVIDE.” SO WE’VE DONE THAT WITH 25,000 PEOPLE; THAT’S PRETTY GOOD. WE’VE DONE IT WITH NEARLY A THOUSAND LEGISLATORS. FRANKLIN: RIGHT. AND HERE IN IDAHO. ALLRED: …AND 16 STATE LEGISLATURES, THE IDAHO LEGISLATURE BEING THE FIRST ONE THAT WE DID THE ENTIRE LEGISLATURE WITH. SO THAT’S PRETTY DECENT. BUT AS YOU’RE SAYING IN A COUNTRY OF OVER 300 MILLION PEOPLE THAT’S STILL NOT ENOUGH TO MOVE THE NEEDLE. AND EVEN BEFORE I CAME ON BOARD CAROLYN LUKENSMEYER WAS REALLY FOCUSED ON “HOW DO WE SCALE IT?” THAT IS ABSOLUTELY MY MISSION IN LEADING IT. AND SO WE HAVE TWO REALLY EXCITING PIECES AMONG OTHERS FOR HOW DO YOU SCALE IT TO THE LEVEL THAT COULD ACTUALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE. ONE IS WE’RE DOING A PROGRAM CALLED “DIVIDED WE FALL.” FRANKLIN: THIS IS A DOCUMENTARY SERIES? ALLRED: ]IT’S A DOCUMENTARY SERIES WHERE WE DO WHAT WE’VE DONE ON A SMALL SCALE BUT DO IT AND YOU KNOW ABLE TO BROADCAST IT. WE FILM IT AND BROADCAST IT. FRANKLIN: SO TRAININGS BASICALLY WITH PEOPLE TO COME TOGETHER? ALLRED: IT’S NOT SO MUCH TRAININGS. BUT IT’S A IT’S A STRUCTURED WAY OF COMING TOGETHER AND HAVING A CONVERSATION IN WHICH THEY DO HAVE THAT EXPERIENCE OF, “I’VE HAD THIS STEREOTYPE OF PEOPLE WHO HAD THOSE VIEWS AND THAT STEREOTYPE TURNS OUT TO NOT BE TOTALLY ACCURATE AND THEY’RE REAL PEOPLE WHO I ACTUALLY LIKE ON THE OTHER SIDE.” AND THERE’S A THERE’S A KIND OF CHANGE THAT HAPPENS – A CHANGE OF HEART THAT HAPPENS. AND SO WE’VE SHOT THE FIRST TWO PIL.OT EPISODES OF THEM. THEY ARE REALLY MOVING AND WE’RE IN DISCUSSIONS NOW WITH SOME MAJOR SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS TO SCALE THAT SO THAT WE CAN GET TO HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OR MILLIONS. THE SECOND ONE IS WHAT WE PILOTED HERE IN IDAHO — IT’S THE COMMON INTEREST. AND THAT’S WHERE CITIZENS – REPUBLICANS, DEMOCRATS, IINDEPENDENTS FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY — MAKE A COMMITMENT OF JUST 90 MINUTES PER YEAR TO DO THE PIECE YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT, TO REVIEW THE BRIEF THEY GET RANDOMLY ASSIGNED TO, WEIGH IN AND THEN WHERE WE HAVE TWO THIRDS CONSENSUS CONTACT YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS. AND THAT’S A PIECE WHERE PEOPLE CAN IMAGINE A COMMITMENT. IT’S LIKE, “OK I CAN DO THAT. I’M NOT A DEEPLY POLITICAL PERSON BUT I CAN DO THAT AND IT MIGHT ACTUALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE.” AND WE’RE GETTING PEOPLE SIGNING UP AT THREE TIMES THE SPEED AND ONE QUARTER OF THE BUDGET THAT WE ANTICIPATED. NOW I OBVIOUSLY HAD PRETTY HIGH EXPECTATIONS. WE CHANGED OUR ENTIRE LIFESTYLE AND LEFT OUR HOME STATE OF IDAHO ON THE BET THAT WE COULD DO THAT. SO I HAD PRETTY HIGH EXPECTATIONS. THE HUNGER IN THE COUNTRY IS AT LEAST THREE TO FOUR TIMES WHAT I THOUGHT IT WAS. FRANKLIN: I KNOW YOU’RE AN AVID, YOU KNOW, CUTTING HORSE PRACTITIONER IF THAT’S THE RIGHT… ALLRED: RIDER. FRANKLIN: …RIDER, COMPETITOR. WHAT IF ANYTHING FROM THAT SPORT… ALLRED: YEAH. FRANKLIN: …TEACHES YOU ABOUT THIS MISSION YOU HAVE FOR CIVILITY IN OUR COUNTRY. WHAT DID YOU LEARN THROUGH THAT? ALLRED: WELL, THERE IS A REMARKABLE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN RIDER AND HORSE IN CUTTING HORSES. AND FOR YOUR VIEWERS WHO DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS, YOU CUT A COW OUT FROM THE HERD AND THEN YOU HAVE TO PUT YOUR REINS DOWN AND KEEP THE COW FROM GETTING BACK. SO YOU CAN’T SIGNAL WITH YOUR REINS. SO YOU HAVE TO HAVE THIS REALLY CLOSE RELATIONSHIP SO THE HORSE CAN READ YOU AND YOU CAN READ THE HORSE AND YET YOU’RE MAKING THESE HUGE FAST MOVES, A THOUSAND POUND ANIMAL THAT’LL STOP IN A SINGLE STRIDE, PIVOT AND COME BACK THE OTHER WAY. AND SO IS THIS COMBINATION OF GRACE AND POWER. BUT THERE’S A SORT OF SUBTLETY TO IT OF BEING TUNED INTO EACH OTHER THERE. AND RIDERS WHO SPUR A WHOLE BUNCH OR TEAR THEIR HORSE AROUND — THEY DON’T SUCCEED. AND SO THERE’S, THERE’S A LITTLE BIT OF A KIND OF CALM, DELIBERATE, GRACEFUL WAY ABOUT IT THAT IS I THINK WHAT WE NEED A LITTLE MORE OF IN POLITICS THESE DAYS. FRANKLIN: WELL, HOW DO YOU TAKE WHAT YOUR ORGANIZATION IS TRYING TO DO AND APPLY IT TO A VERY CONTENTIOUS ISSUE, SUCH AS THE WALL… ALLRED: RIGHT. FRANKLIN: …ALONG THE BORDER. HOW DO YOU DO THAT? ALLRED: WELL, HONESTLY, I THINK TO START WITH WE DON’T TAKE ON ISSUES LIKE THAT. I JUST DON’T THINK WE’RE CAPABLE OF IT. AND THIS IS WHERE WE’LL CHANGE A LITTLE BIT FROM THE WAY WE DID IT IN IDAHO TO THE FEDERAL LEVEL. YOU KNOW, WE STARTED OUT RIGHT AT THE BEGINNING IN IDAHO WHERE WE JUST ASKED OUR MEMBERS, WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES?” IF WE PICKED THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL NOW. THERE’S JUST NO WAY WE’VE GOT THE CAPACITY TO TAKE THOSE ON. I’M UNDER NO ILLUSIONS. FRANKLIN: WELL, SOME WOULD ARGUE THAT THE WALL IS NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE COMPARED TO HEALTH CARE AND TAXATION. ALLRED: IT MIGHT NOT EVEN GET, YEAH…AND I THINK THAT’S REALLY THE PROBLEM WITH CONGRESS AND WHAT ONE OF THE THINGS THAT’S BROKEN ABOUT IT IS THAT BOTH SIDES ARE NOT PICKING ISSUES BECAUSE OF THEIR IMPORTANCE OR THE ABILITY TO DO SOMETHING BETTER ABOUT IT. THEY’RE LOOKING FOR TOOLS THEY CAN BEAT UP ON THE OTHER SIDE WITH POLITICALLY. AND SO OUR APPROACH WILL REALLY BE PRACTICAL PROBLEM-SOLVING. WE’LL START OUT LOOKING FOR SMALLER BORE KINDS OF SOLUTIONS THAT CAN ATTRACT THAT BROAD SUPPORT BUT ARE STILL MEANINGFUL, THAT WILL HAVE A MAJOR IMPACT, YOU KNOW, RATHER THAN BIG, THEORETICAL IDEOLOGICAL FOOD FIGHT KINDS OF ISSUES. FRANKLIN: SO IF PEOPLE WANT TO GET A TRAINING THEY MIGHT CONTACT NICD. IF THEY…WHAT ELSE DO YOU OFFER? ALLRED: SO THERE’S KIND OF, FOR THE PUBLIC THERE’S REALLY TWO PIECES OF IT. THERE IS THE KIND OF TRAINING AND, AND OR GUIDANCE IF YOU WANT TO — YOU KNOW WE HAVE ONE, “SETTING THE TABLE FOR CIVILITY.” YOU KNOW, PEOPLE DREADING THANKSGIVING DINNER, RIGHT, YOU KNOW, AND UNCLE BOB, THAT THEY’RE NOT GOING, RIGHT, KNOW TO DO THAT. SO AT REVIVE CIVILITY DOT ORG, WE HAVE A WHOLE SET OF MATERIALS FOR INDIVIDUALS, SMALL GROUPS, COMMUNITIES, WHO WANT TO BE ABLE TO ENGAGE ACROSS THOSE DIFFERENCES PRODUCTIVELY AND LOOKING FOR LITTLE GUIDANCE IN HOW YOU DO THAT. AND THEN FOR PEOPLE WHO WOULD LIKE TO ROLL UP THEIR SLEEVES AND JOIN THE EFFORT TO FIND AND CHAMPION BROADLY-SUPPORTED SOLUTIONS, SPECIFIC LEGISLATIVE SOLUTIONS IN THE CONGRESS, THEN THEY CAN GO TO COMMONSENSE AMERICAN DOT ORG AND SIGN UP TO DO THAT. FRANKLIN: AND IDAHO, AS I UNDERSTAND IT, WHICH WAS YOU KNOW THE GROUND ZERO FOR THE COMMON INTEREST IS STILL — PEOPLE FROM IDAHO ARE STILL INVOLVED IN THIS AREN’T THEY? ALLRED: YEAH. IN A VARIETY OF WAYS. THERE ARE MORE MEMBERS OF COMMONSENSE AMERICAN FROM IDAHO THAN ANY OTHER STATE, PROBABLY NOT SURPRISINGLY. AND I KIND OF HOPE IT CONTINUES TO LEAD. AND WE’LL PILOT VERSIONS OF COMMONSENSE AMERICAN IN IDAHO HERE FIRST. AND I’VE BEEN HERE THIS WEEK TALKING TO SOME FOLKS WHO COULD JOIN AN ADVISORY BOARD AND HAVE BEEN GETTING VERY GOOD RESPONSES. I’M NOT READY TO DISCLOSE YET, BUT I THINK IT’LL SURPRISE A FEW PEOPLE OF SOME UNLIKELY PARTNERSHIPS THAT ARE GOING TO JOIN AT THE STATE LEVEL ADVISORY BOARD FOR IDAHO. AND WE’LL PILOT SOME OF THOSE THINGS LIKE COMMONSENSE AMERICAN TOWN HALLS I THINK IN IDAHO. SO IN MY VIEW, IDAHO WILL CONTINUE TO LEAD AND KIND OF BE A PILOT FOR THE REST OF THE NATION. FRANKLIN: YOU KNOW YOU HAVE A MANUSCRIPT FOR A BOOK THAT WILL COME OUT, WHAT, IN THE NEXT…? ALLRED: YEAH, IT’LL TAKE LONGER THAN I’D LIKE. FRANKLIN: ‘CAUSE YOU’VE GOT THIS NEW JOB. ALLRED: AND I CAN’T SEEM TO GET TO…I WAS GOING TO START TO SHOP THAT TO AGENTS AND I CAN’T SEEM TO GET ANY TIME TO DO THAT RIGHT NOW. FRANKLIN: SURE. ALLRED: BUT HOPEFULLY IN THE NEXT YEAR OR SO. FRANKLIN: WELL IN THIS MANUSCRIPT YOU HAVE FOR, FOR A BOOK YOU’RE GOING TO PUBLISH, YOU MENTIONED THAT THIS POLARIZATION — IT’S ESSENTIALLY TRIBAL IN THE END. I MEAN IT’S, IT’S HARDWIRED INTO OUR GENETICS — THAT OUR FOUNDING FATHERS KNEW THAT — YOU KNOW, AT SOME LEVEL, AND SET UP OUR COUNTRY WITH ITS CHECKS AND BALANCES TO TRY AND MEDIATE THAT. IF IT’S SO DEEP-SEATED IN US THAT PEOPLE WANT TO TWEET, YOU KNOW, SOMETHING TERRIBLE ABOUT A PERSON, HOW DO YOU, YOU KNOW, BEING CIVIL ISN’T NECESSARILY GONNA…. ALLRED: DOESN’T COME NATURALLY, ACTUALLY. FRANKLIN: YEAH? ALLRED: AND IT’S HARD TO DO, AND IN THIS BIG AND DIVERSE OF A COUNTRY. I THINK THE FOUNDERS HAD IT RIGHT IN THEIR INCLINATION AND THEY SAID THIS TOO, THEY SAID THE SEEDS ARE IN HUMAN NATURE OF THIS PROBLEM. SO THEIR ANSWER WAS LIKE, “YOU KNOW, YOU’RE NOT GONNA CHANGE HUMAN NATURE.” SO YOU HAVE TO COME UP WITH STRUCTURES THAT ARE MORE ROBUST TO IT. THE FOUNDERS REALLY FOCUSED ON DEFENSES AGAINST PARTISAN TYRANNY — SEPARATION OF POWERS SO NO ONE PARTY COULD IMPOSE THEIR WILL ON EVERYONE ELSE. I THINK WHAT WAS MISSING IS THE AFFIRMATIVE SIDE OF THAT, OF THE AFFIRMATIVE ABILITY TO FIND AND CHAMPION BROADLY SUPPORTED SOLUTIONS, WHICH AGAIN IS NOT EASY GIVEN HUMAN NATURE. BUT THERE ARE STRUCTURES, THERE ARE PROCESSES THAT ARE BETTER AND WORSE AT DOING THAT, THAT ARE MORE EFFECTIVE AND MORE EFFICIENT. AND THE MODEL THAT WE PILOTED HERE IN IDAHO WITH THE COMMON INTEREST PROVED TO BE QUITE EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE. FRANKLIN: ISN’T THERE A ROOM FOR INCIVILITY AS WELL? BECAUSE SO MANY OF THE THINGS THAT HAVE CHANGED IN OUR COUNTRY HAVE COME OUT OF SOME ACTIONS THAT SOME PEOPLE WOULD SEE AS UNCIVIL. ALLRED: I THINK IT PROBABLY ALWAYS PLAYS A ROLE. FRANKLIN: THE REVOLUTION! ALLRED: THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR WASN’T ENTIRELY CIVIL, RIGHT? WE TOOK UP ARMS AROUND IT. SO I THINK THAT THERE ARE — ISSUES CAN GET TO A LEVEL WHERE YOU SAY, “CIVILITY ISN’T THE ONLY TOOL IN THE TOOLBOX.” BUT IF YOU LOOK AT OUR MOST IMPORTANT STEPS FORWARD AS A NATION, INCLUDING THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT — WE CALLED THAT “CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE,” RIGHT? AND IT WAS AT THE END OF THE DAY PERSUADING A MAJORITY OF THE COUNTRY THAT WE NEEDED TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. FRANKLIN: THROUGH NON-VIOLENT MEANS. ALLRED: THROUGH NON-VIOLENT THINGS. AND SO THERE — YOU KNOW YOU HAD MALCOLM X AND YOU HAD DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING. YOU HAD — AND YOU PROBABLY NEEDED BOTH. YOU NEEDED A RANGE. BUT YOU DIDN’T ACTUALLY PASS ANYTHING. YOU DIDN’T PASS THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT UNTIL YOU PERSUADED A MAJORITY. AND SO AT THE END OF THE DAY TO MAKE REAL PROGRESS, IT HAS TO BE BY PERSUASION. THERE’S NO OTHER ALTERNATIVE IN SELF-GOVERNMENT. OTHERWISE IT’S SOME GROUP GETTING TO IMPOSE THEIR WILL ON EVERYBODY ELSE. SO GIVEN THE LIMITS OF HUMAN NATURE, THAT’S THE ONLY GAME WE HAVE IN TOWN. AND IF YOU JUST — IF PEOPLE THINK ABOUT THEIR OWN EXPERIENCE ON THIS — HOW OFTEN HAVE YOU PERSUADED SOMEBODY TO YOUR CAUSE BY YELLING AT THEM, BY CASTING ASPERSIONS ON THEIR CHARACTER? YOU JUST RARELY CONVERT PEOPLE TO YOUR CAUSE THAT WAY. SO MAYBE IT WILL KIND OF HIGHLIGHT AN ISSUE — MAYBE THAT’S NECESSARY ON OCCASION — BUT IT’S ALMOST NEVER SUFFICIENT. FRANKLIN: YOU KNOW IT’S INTERESTING. I’M MEETING MORE AND MORE PEOPLE WHO ARE JUST TURNING OFF THE TELEVISION, SHUTTING DOWN SOCIAL MEDIA, BECAUSE THEY DON’T WANT THAT NEGATIVITY TO COME INTO THEIR LIVES. SO THE PENDULUM TENDS TO SWING BACK AND FORTH. ALLRED: YEAH. AND IT SEEMS TO BE THE WAY OF MOST REPUBLICS, AND MAYBE ESPECIALLY THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC, THAT WE DON’T REALLY GET SERIOUS ABOUT FIXING SOMETHING UNTIL IT REACHES CRISIS PROPORTIONS. AND SO THERE IS ANOTHER SIDE TO THAT COIN OF HOW DEEP THE FRUSTRATION IS. IT ALSO CREATES THE HUNGER TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. FRANKLIN: IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU’RE REALLY QUITE OPTIMISTIC IN THE END THAT PEOPLE CAN COME TOGETHER. ALLRED: YOU KNOW, I STARTED ON THIS JOURNEY AS A SOPHOMORE IN COLLEGE WHEN I FIRST STARTED TO KIND OF UNDERSTAND THE FOUNDERS’ VISION AND HOW CRITICAL IT WAS — EXCUSE ME — THAT NO ONE PARTY GET TO IMPOSE THEIR WILL. SO I’VE BEEN, IT’S BEEN THE DRIVING PASSION OF MY ENTIRE ADULT LIFE, MY ENTIRE CAREER. AND I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE OPTIMISTIC THAN I AM TODAY. I GET OUT OF BED MORE EXCITED THAN I EVER HAVE LOOKING AT THE WORK, WHAT I GET TO GO WORK ON, AND THE HOPE THAT I HAVE THAT I CAN DO IT. AND AGAIN IT IS THIS KIND OF STRANGE JUXTAPOSITION THAT WE DON’T GET SERIOUS IN THIS COUNTRY ABOUT DOING SOMETHING UNTIL WE THINK IT HAS GOTTEN TO A CRISIS PROPORTIONS AND AMERICANS HAVE GOTTEN THERE. AND SO THAT CREATES THE POSSIBILITY FOR DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT THAT HASN’T BEEN THERE BEFORE. SO HAVING WORKED ON IT FOR SEVERAL DECADES, I HAVE NEVER FELT MORE OPTIMISTIC THAN NOW. FRANKLIN: YOU RAN FOR GOVERNOR IN IDAHO; WOULD YOU WANT TO RUN AGAIN FOR ANY POLITICAL POSITION? ALLRED: I AM SO IN MY BONES AN INDEPENDENT. YOU KNOW THAT WAS A TOUGH — THE DEMOCRATS APPROACHED ME AND SAID, “HOW ABOUT RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR?” AND I SAID, “I DON’T THINK THAT’S GOING TO WORK BECAUSE I’M NOT A DEMOCRAT; I’M AN INDEPENDENT.” AND THEY SAID, “THAT’S OK. YOU DON’T HAVE TO ADOPT OUR PLATFORM; WE’LL JUST BACK YOU.” AND I THOUGHT, “WELL, LET’S GIVE THAT A TRY.” I AM SO ABOUT FINDING AND CHAMPIONING BROADLY SUPPORTED SOLUTIONS — THAT IS SO MUCH IN MY BONES, HOW I BELIEVE ABOUT APPROACHING POLITICS — AND THAT DOES NOT FIT RUNNING FOR OFFICE IN OUR POLARIZED POLITICAL SYSTEM. FRANKLIN: WELL, I WILL LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING MORE ABOUT WHAT YOUR INITIATIVES ARE DOING NATIONWIDE. AND THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME, NOW THAT YOU’RE BACK IN IDAHO FOR A SHORT PERIOD, TO COME ON DIALOGUE AND TALK ABOUT IT. I REALLY APPRECIATE IT. ALLRED: THANKS FOR HAVING ME, MARCIA. FRANKLIN: WELL, UNFORTUNATELY THAT IS ALL THE TIME WE HAVE. MY GUEST TODAY HAS BEEN KEITH ALLRED, AN IDAHO NATIVE AND THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR CIVIL DISCOURSE. FOR MORE INFORMATION CHECK OUT THE DIALOGUE WEBSITE. JUST GO TO IDAHOPTV DOT ORG AND CLICK ON “DIALOGUE.” FOR DIALOGUE. I’M MARCIA FRANKLIN. THANKS FOR TUNING IN. (MUSIC) ANNOUNCER: PRESENTATION OF DIALOGUE ON IDAHO PUBLIC TELEVISION IS MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH THE GENEROUS SUPPORT OF THE LAURA MOORE CUNNINGHAM FOUNDATION, COMMITTED TO FULFILLING THE MOORE AND BETTIS FAMILY LEGACY OF BUILDING THE GREAT STATE OF IDAHO, BY THE FRIENDS OF IDAHO PUBLIC TELEVISION, BY THE CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING AND BY THE IDAHO PUBLIC TELEVISION ENDOWMENT.

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