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Can American Democracy Be Saved?

Former senators Olympia Snowe and Tom Daschle, Republican and Democrat, take on Washington gridlock.

Dean of the University of New Hampshire School of Law, John Broderick, left, watches as former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, center, is introduced of U.S. Sen. Angus King, right, Sunday, April 21, 2013 in Concord, N.H. Snowe received the inaugural Warren B. Rudman award at a dedication ceremony for the former New Hampshire U.S. senator. (AP)

Dean of the University of New Hampshire School of Law, John Broderick, left, watches as former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, center, is introduced of U.S. Sen. Angus King, right, Sunday, April 21, 2013 in Concord, N.H. Snowe received the inaugural Warren B. Rudman award at a dedication ceremony for the former New Hampshire U.S. senator. (AP)

The latest Gallup poll finds Americans approval rating for Congress at an all-time low.  Four percent with a great deal of faith there.  The lowest for any American institution Gallup has polled on in 40 years.  In gridlock and polarization and standoff, legislation has ground nearly to a halt.  For the sake of democracy, of the country, this cannot go on say my guests today, former Senators Olympia Snowe, Republican and Tom Daschle, Democrat.  They think they’ve got a way out.  An answer to the standoff. This hour On Point:  Senators Snowe and Daschle on saving American democracy.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), former U.S. Senator from Maine. Senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center. Author of “Fighting For Common Ground: How We Can Fix the Stalemate in Congress.” (@OlympiasList)

Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD), former U.S. Senator from South Dakota. Co-founder of the Bipartisan Policy Center. Author of “Getting it Done: How Obama and Congress Finally Broke the Stalemate to Make Way For Health Care Reform” and “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.”

Jedediah Purdy, professor at the Duke University School of Law. Author of “A Tolerable Anarchy” and “The Meaning of Property.” (@JedediahSPurdy)

From Tom’s Reading List

Bipartisan Policy Center: Governing in a Polarized America – “With such deeply held contrasting principles, we as a country must ask: ‘Can our democracy function effectively in such a partisan era?’ We believe the answer is yes, but engagement by the American people will be necessary, as has been the case throughout  history, to encourage policymakers to solve problems. We come here today with the hope that our democracy will once  again be able to respond to national challenges, despite our ideological differences.”

POLITICO Magazine: Time Bomb — “Talk about embracing conflict seems divisive, which is automatically taken as a bad thing these days. But division as such is not a bad thing. Cultural vitriol stirred up by cynical posturing—that is a bad thing. Much Washington partisanship is tactical, positioning the team to take another increment of power. Much popular partisanship is a matter of culture and identity—where you get your news, what kind of tone you use when pronouncing President Obama’s name, which kinds of people you wish your children or siblings wouldn’t date.”

ABC News: Small Group of Former Lawmakers Tackle Big Problem: Washington Gridlock – “How do you fix American politics? A group of former senators believe they have some of the answers to the gridlock and partisanship fueling Americans’ lack of faith in Washington and Congress’ historic levels of inaction. Working with the Bipartisan Policy Center, former Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Tom Daschle, D-S.D., unveiled their bipartisan blueprint today to move governing forward in Washington.”

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