Bridging the Partisan Divide

While we try to identify with the box we plan on checking in the next election, Mark Gerzon and other trailblazers are working to reunite Americans to be able to work more efficiently with each other.

| July 2016

  • Stop the seemingly endless left-right fist fight while honoring the vital role of healthy political debate.
    Photo by Fotolia/Rubberball
  • In "The Reuniting of the United States", Mark Gerzon succeeds where others have failed. Instead of pushing the tired old narrative that on liberals of conservatives can ‘fix’ what’s wrong, the movement to reunite America begins with the premise that we can only succeed by working together.
    Cover courtesy Berrett and Koehler Publishers, Inc.

In this era of poisonous partisanship, The Reunited States of America (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2016), by Mark Gerzon, is a lifesaving antidote. At a time when loyalty to party seems to be overpowering love of country, it not only explains how we can bridge the partisan divide but also tells the untold story of how our fellow citizens already are doing it.

To find more books that pique our interest, visit the Utne Reader Bookshelf.

One day, a young man named Sean Long, who had just finished his junior year at Notre Dame, visited me in my office. He had heard about an event we had hosted on a college campus that had led to students forming a “transpartisan club” that offered an alternative to the traditional left–right alternatives. Sean searched me out because he wanted to tell me his story and ask for my support.

“I was president of the Democratic Club on campus,” he told me. “I was sitting in my dorm with a conservative friend who was challenging some of my opinions. We asked ourselves: What would it be like to have a safe, neutral place where students could explore their differences in an atmosphere of curiosity?”

When Sean returned for his senior year, he decided to turn his idea into action. He and two close Republican friends thought of calling it a “club for moderates” but quickly realized that the phrase did not capture what they were trying to create. They didn’t want a club, and they weren’t moderates. They wanted to break out completely from that old mold.


With these two friends, Sean started bridgeND, an organization committed to going beyond debate and finding common ground to inspire students to take action across the political spectrum. “We have a logo and everything,” he told me excitedly, whipping out his iPhone to show me a red-white-and-blue design of a bridge spanning the divides.

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