September 29, 2017

Americans haven’t exactly held Congress in the highest esteem in recent years. Gallup polls show U.S. Senators and Representatives with approval ratings as low as 9 percent. And people want to see politicians reach across the aisle — at least that’s what they tell the pollsters. They don’t always vote in a way that backs that idea up. We talk with Rutgers University politics professor Ross Baker about the state of American bipartisanship. And we check-in with KTOO's Andrew Kitchenman to see how Alaska's experiment in bipartisanship is going.

Three Takeaways 

  • In a rare victory for bipartisanship, Alaska elected a governor on a unity ticket in 2014. Bill Walker, a Republican turned Independent, asked Democrat Byron Mallott to run for Lieutenant Governor on his ticket. They brought in 48 percent of the vote, which was enough to defeat the Republican nominee.
  • To others, New Jersey might actually be the model for state bipartisanship. The Garden State has a strong Republican governor with a Democratic majority in both houses of the state legislature, and they're getting stuff done.
  • Sometimes bipartisanship can be as easy as choosing your words wisely. One Democratic House member realized that by using the term, “climate change” he was irking Republicans. So instead, he talked about energy renewables.

More reading 

innovation hub, Culture, Kara Miller, WGBH, andrew kitchenman, ross baker, pri

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