tv Psychologists Testify on Civility in Congress CSPAN July 12, 2021 11:59am-2:02pm EDT
as we all know partisanship isn't new. when we engaged in constructive conflict it's not bad but today a lot of what happens in congress doesn't feel very constructive. it feels frustrating at best and maddening at worse and that feeling, by the way is bipartisan. i'm anyone who enjoys working in a dysfunctional environment. rather than just accept this as the way things are, i've been thinking a lot about what it would take to make things better and spending a lot of time talking to people who know far more about this stuff than i do. i've talked to experts and organizational psychology and cultural change. i've talked to trauma therapists and marriage counselors and sports coaches who were tasked with turning losing teams into winning ones. my goal has been to learn with people in deep expertise in working if various forms of dysfunction. many don't know the inside baseball of congress and that's
been refreshing too. there's been an optimism to these conversations. that gives me hope. i went in looking for solutions and encountered a common theme in the advice i was given. first, define the problem. that's what we tried to do with our hearing last week. congress reflects these trends and we talked about what that means. members are rewarded for hostile, rather than productive behaviors and actions. all of this is say i don't know that we're dealing with broken rules and procedures so much as broken norms. this is really tricky. we can't legislate behavioral change or pass rules saying that members have to be nice to each other. the question then becomes, how does congress change its incentive structure that rewards civility and consensus building. this isn't about trying to
reclaim some version of bipartisan that supposedly existed in the past. congress needs to approach this challenge with a very clear understanding of the current environment and give thoughtful consideration to what norms makes sense today because unless society deems a particular norm desirable, the pressure to add here to that norm does not exist. we will hear from experts who dedicated their professional lives to helping people find meaning in their careers and personal lives. we know a lot of members feel frustrated in trying to do the jobs they were lekked to do. the mechanisms we relied upon to help us solve constitutional problems aren't working. maybe it's time to consider new ideas and fresh approaches. maybe congress can learn from the techniques by opposing factions on corporate boards or in foreign governments or in rival gangs and within families. i'm really looking forward to this discussion and to hearing what our witnesses today recommend. as with our hearing last week, the select committee will once
again make use of the committee rules we adopted earlier this year that give us the flexibility to experiment with our we structure our hearings. in accordance with clause 2j of how rule 11, we'll allow up to 30 minutes of extended questioning of witnesses. that's the most formal part of this. vice chair timmons and i will manage to make sure every member has equal opportunity to participate. any member should signal their request to meet and members who wish to claim their individual five minutes pusuant to clause 2j2 will be so permitted. with that, i'd like to now invite vice chair timmons to share some opening remarks.
>> good morning. thank you. i just want to first thank you you each for taking time to come and meet with us and discuss this very important topic. i believe this is probably the most important work that this committee is going to undertake this congress. we're very fortunate that we're even here. this was originally a one year and we got an extra year. now we got two whole years. it's great. i think i think this is the area that has the potential for the greatest impact to fix this dysfunctional institution. we talked about it a lot. i thought about it over the last two and a half years and in my mind, i've kind of put this conversation of civility into three categories and that's incentive structure, time and relationship building. we got to facilitate the right objective, collaboration, policy making. right now the loudest voice is the one that's heard and rewarded and the loudest voice is never going to be the one
that solves problem. whether that's budget reform, committee structure, member empowerment. that's an important area. then time is another one. we're never going to get anything done if we're here for 65 days a year. just the cayous chaos with rand votes. these the things that we're thinking about right now and i'd love for you to build on that,
to add to it, suggest something totally new. i really appreciate y'all taking time to be here. this is very important work and with that, i yield back. thank you. >> i'm now going to invite each witness to give five minutes of oral testimony. witnesses are reminded your written statements will be made part of the record. our first witness today is christina miller. dr. miller is an associate professor at the university of maryland. her work focuses on political representation in the u.s. congress especially the extent to which the interest of unorganized citizens and organized interests are represented in the lawmaker process. her research examines cooperation in the u.s. house.
>> all right. thank you. i'm an associate professor of government and politics at the university of maryland. i want to thank for the opportunity to speak with you today. although i'm a political scientists, i believe there are many important aspects of congress that benefit from an interdisciplinary approach. scholars of organizational climate and culture highlight two approaches. individuals are encouraged to use dialogue and negotiation, joint problem solving and this type of cooperative behavior is rewarded. this second is called dominating conflict culture where conflict is promoted and the merit of
winning are publicly emphasized and rewarded. in the case of congress, there's evidence of both cultures co-existing. there's an expectation that members will express their preferences and differences. there are established norms houf this is to be done and there's a shared commitment to get to yes. when party leaders believe an issue has electoral implications especially for which party controls a majority, it will be very challenging to change the us versus them, win or lose culture. this is not to discourage efforts to make it less combative but to recognize the political realities. there is, however, a lot else that congress does that is neither internal to parties nor high stakes party votes. this is where i think efforts to
improve congressional culture may see the biggest returns. there are three areas that weren't further consideration. personal relationships, shared interest and committees. the key is personal relationships can reveal common sense experience and interest and they can generate policy conversations and lead to collaborative proposals. recommendations made by this committee has taken important steps to promote personal relationship building among member, including through bipartisan retreats. congress can further ensure that existing events for members and staff ranging from orientation to training sessions are designed to be bipartisan. additionally, efts can be made to increase the groups of legislatures that are brought together in ways to find other
than party. for instance, we might think about holding a monthly state delegation meeting or the recommend ed cyber security training sessions could be arranged by cohort. party leaders can be more supportive in those smaller issues. the creation of a bipartisan outreach chair within each party's leadership structure would signal that even party leaders expect members to work across the aisle sometimes. shared interests are a second part. today i'd like to call attention to the existing frame work as an underused venue for promoting a more cooperative climate across the aisle. my own research as well as that of other scholars shows more than 400 cmos in the house with a vast majority focused by
policy issue. additionally, there are growing numbers of caucuses defined by a moderate approach and deliberately bipartisan nature. i encourage congress not only publicizing caucuses to the membership but increase support in terms of staff and meeting space. another suggestion is to give caucuses official house websites. i want to talk about the important role of committees as combing both personal relationships and shared interests. committees are where bipartisan relationships begin and legislative collaboration is most frequent with committee colleagues.
a second important factor are committee leaders. some are seen as setting the tone for bipartisan cooperation where leaders model cooperative behavior, members are more likely to perceive that collaboration and civility are valued by their leadership. this committee has already made and put into action a number of important recommendations. given the importance of committee leaders and setting the tone, it may be fruitful to i city constitute a leadership training session at the start of the new congress to give them the tools they need to create a cooperative climate in their committee. another suggestion is for committee leaders to more formally insent vise by considering cooperative behavior when considering subcommittee positions or other decisions.
i want to reiterate my appreciation to this committee for all the work you have done and for continuing to advance this important conversation. thank you. >> thank you, dr. miller. our next witness is adam grant. he's been recognized as one of the world's most ten influential thinkers. he's the author of five books that's been translated into 35 languages. it's opinion recognized as the most influential researchers in
business and economics. dr. grant, you are recognized for five minutes to present your testimony. >> thank you. it's a great honor and a daunting challenge to figure out how to improve the culture of congress. none of these will not have anything to do with incentives. i want to talk about the norms and the values that the chair referenced earlier. the place i might start is an outsider to congress is with on boarding. i know every great culture has an on boarding program. stories are told. culture is communicated through the stories we tell. there's experiment done a few years ago where new hires are given a chance to engage with stories about things that have happened that make up the culture of the organization. if you hear a story about a junior person doing something
that's above and beyond to uphold the values, that's more likely to prompt you to collaborate and go above and beyond to try to support the organization than if you hear the same story coming from a senior leader. at the people at low level who is don't have a lot of power or status living the culture that inspires new members to follow suit. on the flip side, senior people violating the culture do the most pardon me. if i'm a brand new hire to an organization and i learn about people at the very top who are engaging in behaviors that conflict with our core values and our norms then i'm more likely to go and deviate. i think it would be interesting to spend some time pondering what stories do we tell as people join congress about what really happens here and how do we find the junior members who are upholdsing the values and make sure that we don't put too much emphasis on the value slighting behavior of senior people when we set the tone for the culture. then, the second thing i would think about is building trust. i believe we get it wrong when
think about what it takes to build trust. we assume that trust comes from frequent interaction. my experience and my data tell me that trust depends on the intensity of interaction with people. if you interact every week for an hour, you can stap at the surface level. if you spend the whole day together, you end up going much deeper. you're more likely to become vulnerable and open up. that experience of being vulnerable leads you to decide i must trust people, otherwise why did i just share that. that's how bonds begin to develop. a couple of examples, one is there's a camp called seas and peace where israeli and palestinian teenagers are together for the summer. it turns out just sharing that deep interaction together for a short period of time is enough to increase your likelihood of developing a friendship across that aisle by 11 to 15 times.
another place where i've seen this intensity dynamic is with astronauts building trust. this will sound like a joke. it's not. i was studying a group of astronauts. they were american, italian and russian that are were supposed to put their lives in each others hands. the american and russian grown up trained to shoot each other. not an easy context to build trust. might sound familiar to some of you. one of the ways that nasa prepared them was they sent them to get lost for 11 days in the wilderness together. they had to navigate unexpected turned. they had to figure out how to survivor and in that process they suffered adversity together. they learned that they could count on each other and those kinds of deep experiences together are pretty critical for discovering that you do have something in common. i don't think all commonality are creates equal. it's not enough to know that we're fellow americans. we need uncommon commonalities. in the case of astronauts it was sitting down to tell their
origin stories and talk about the day they decided they wanted to go to outer space. after sharing those stories, they realize i now have something in common that only a few hundred people in all of human history can truly understand. i think we need that intense interaction to experience the as a rule ner -- vulnerabilities and the rare similarity to show we can trust each other. psychologists have documented a pattern called solution aversion. if somebody brings you a solution and you don't like it, your first impulse is to dismiss or deny the problem all together. agendas are drif been solutions by i think conversations should be guided by problems. if we start by defining the problem we're trying to solve, we can build consensus around diagnosing the critical issues that need to be fixed. we gain some practice building
minutes. >> thank you. i've honored to speak with you. i wear two hats today. one is as the university professor and the non-profit of braver angels that have done over a thousands workshops to help de-polarized reds an blues. we learned that carefully designed structures frr group process and one to one conversations can lower rankor and produce more understanding across partisan differences. for example, in our red blue workshop we use what's called a fish bowl activity where people on one side, reds or blues sit in a circle with the other group sitting in an outer circle. those in the outer circle just listen and observe. nose the middle answer two questions. why are your sides values and
policies good for the country and what are your reservations and concerns about your own side. why are your sides value and policies good for the country and what are your reservations and concern about your own side. the two groups shift position. the outer groups move to the inner and the inner to the out. they answer the same questions. this is followed by one to one and whole group conversation around these two questions. what did you learn about how the other side sees themselves and did you see anything in common? activity such as this, which requires structured, sharing and encourages careful listen, including showing humility about one's own side, do yield measurable changes in attitudes and behaviors according to an
outside academic research study that followed participants for six months. we have extended this group process to structure one to one conversations between reds and blue, white people and people of color and rural and urban people, young and old. what are the implications for congress? we gained experience with elected officials in minnesota, maryland and new jersey. in terms of congress, we did a red blue workshop with the minnesota staff members. we're piloting new ways to do congressional town halls. based on this work, i have three recommendations to the select committee for how congress can foster depdepolarization. first, promote red blue workshops for congressional staffs and committee staffs. i suggest beginning with the staffs of members of this select
committee. people talk about things such as what life experiences have influenced their attitudes and beliefs about public policy and the public good. we found that question. perhaps members of this committee could go first with these one to one conversations. third, encourage members of congress to adopt new methods with groups of constituents in order to model depolarization
back in their districts. thai using 19th century designs. it's time for modernization. for all of these action steps, braver angels has trained committed volunteers all over the country to help make them possible. when we did our first skills workshop with members of the minnesota legislature, i asked them why they decided to participate. the main reason based on the door knocking they had done which local legislature, they knock on doors. what they are hearing from constituents was this, please stop fighting all the time and
get things done. i'll end with my marriage therapy hat on. like a couple who remain responsible for their children no matter what happens to their own relationship, reds and blues cannot walk away from each other. neither side can divorce and move to a different country. it's our republic if we can keep it. thank you. >> our final witness is amanda ripley. he's an investigative journalist and best selling author. her most recent book is "high conflict, why we get trapped and how we get out." i read it on my plane trip here.
it's terrific. i told her i would be her hype man. she combines story telling with data to help eliminate hard problems and solutions. she's written about how journalists can do a better job about covering controversy. she's spoken at the pentagon and senate. you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you for the opportunity to testify today and for holding this hearing. there's a lot about congress that i don't understand. i think i may understand the predicament that you're in. albeit from a slightly different vantage point. i've been a journalist for two decades. in recent years, i've had to admit that something is broken in my profession. the conventions of journalism are not functioning the way they are supposed to. unfortunately, my profession,
like yours, is distrusted by many millions of americans. what i've learned is that journalist, like politicians, are trapped in a special category called high conflict. it operates differently from normal conflict. arguing the fact doesn't work in high conflict. our brains behave differently. the us versus them dynamic takes over and the conflict takes on a life of its own. all of us are susceptible the high conflict. it's very hard to resist and any intuitive thing we do to try to end the high conflict, usually makes it worse. what does work? i spent people who have gotten out of other high conflicts in local politics, street gangs and civil wars. i'm convinced it can be done. i've seen it happen again and again. first, before anything else, it helps to just recognize this distinction.
high conflict is the problem, not simply conflict. we don't need unity or even bipartisanship nearly as much as we need what might be called good conflict. good conflict is necessary. it's stressful and heated, anger flares up be so does curiousty, more questions get asked. people disagree profoundly without dehumanizing another. there's movement you can see in the data. the conflict is going somewhere. you feel open. in global conflict zones one way to do sh is light up other identities outside of the conflict. this means reviving people's identities as citizens or
they will not disrespect or humiliate one another on facebook. when the pacs get violated, and they always do, then there's a process in place to complain and rectify the situation without escalating the conflict. political parties are not gangs and the metaphor has its limits. given that so much political conflict escalates through social media today, it's worth considering whether simple rules of engagement could help slow down high conflict here as well and incentiize good conflict. these are interruptions in high conflict when the losses start to seem heavier than the gains. usually it happens after a shock or some unexpected shift in the dynamics.
in politics it can happen an electoral loss or riot. the longer we wait, harder it will get. i thank you for leaning into these hard conversations and inviting me to contribute. >> thank you. now we're going to move into q and a and for those who weren't here for the last hearing, the rules of our committee allow us to be flexible about how we approach this rather than having each member to take five minutes.
a lot of the institution is designed for conflict. we are separated by an aisle. we're engaging more on fact and on identifying problem and trying to move forward in finding solutions to dr. grant's point. with that, i'll start by just recognizing myself and vice chair timmons. any member should signal their request to me or vice chair
timmons to speak. i think we have a member remotely as well. feel free to use the raise hand function. i want to kick things off by trying to get at how we change up the incentives. i fully embrace this notion of there's a difference between good conflict and bad conflict and miss ripley you mentioned getting stuck in the tar sands. i feel like as an institution that happens here. how do we instill an approach in congress that's more geared towards good conflict when so much of the institution seems dedicated to high conflict. how do you change up the rewards for members of congress and for staff and for committee? give us some thoughts about how to change things up. i don't direct this to anyone in particular.
feel free to chime if if you have a thought here. >> i am just very quickly going to start with the most obvious reward which is non-violence. nobody in this institution wants to get hurt or wants their family to get hurt. i'm pretty sure. that is the same incentive that drives all kinds of people, including gang members to take the risk to step out of high conflict. that, to me, is a fundamental one that is fairly obvious but maybe worth repeating. we know from the research that when members of congress or anyone condemns violence, publicly, it reduces people support for violence. your words really matter and that's something to consider if you have a rules of engagement that you negotiated for social
media. that would be a sort of baseline goal and reward is peace. >> you touched on conflict entrepreneurs and this institution. there are ways to go more viral on social media. there are ways to get more press attention and it usually is not having that collaborative bipartisan conversation. i'm just trying to think through how to change incentives. >> i feel like eyes are on me. i don't have all the answers on a platter. i do think there are perhaps ways, you know, some of this has been talked about before is bigger than congress and that's really hard and it may feel like a cop out to say it.
all after you go back and feel incentives and rewards and called upon by your constituents to respond or not respond in certain way. that's part of the equation that beyond my area of expertise is mb who focuses more on congress rather than the national public. i think it has to be knowledged because that electoral connection, that accountability, the fact you are here as the voice of the people who sent you here is fundamental to all of your relationships to your job and to this workplace. some of what, perhaps, needs to be talked about by others is that dynamic. i think dr. doherty's comments and experience working with citizens and constituents, perhaps is a very important place, not that i'm shifting the answer to you, but i think you could speak to that part of it. in terms of the institution itself, some of it may be very
simple things. i mention things like giving bipartisan caucuses official websites. right now it's really hard for your constituents to find out when you are doing this stuff. there's not an active twitter account for all of those situations. individual members, some of them with louder voices than others do have social media and websites. some may be a series of small steps. none of which will feel like it will change the world but if there are constituents out there who want to be able to know about this. when you get positive feedback if your districts about this type of work that you're doing here, that needs to be amplified. how can the institutions support you in amplifying that message. some of that comes about in technology. some comes in staff or interns this are devoted to making this part of the congressional voice louder than some of the others. >> i'll take that cue and say
that constituents want good conflict. a number of them said more than any other issue they heard and more than taxes, more than crime, more than anything else they heard was gridlock, paralysis. that encouraged them to come to a workshop and then when i returned later, a number of members of the legislature said they heard from constituents that they were pleased. thank you for going to something. thank you for being on the civility caucus. the incentives have to change in lots of direction.
we have to hold up the larger goal we're not sending you to congress to be a gladiator of a partisan group. to be a policy maker and representing all of us. >> i wonder about a structural incentive that could be put in place. >> sorry, we lost your audio for a second. >> do you have me now in. >> we do. >> like a bad cell phone commercial. here we go. i think it might be interesting to think about incentives to seek help. i think we all had the experience of being better at resoevering other people's con flicks than our own. there's a whole psychology to explain why that is. when you're solving your own problems, you're stuck in the weeds. when you look at other people's
problems, you zoom out and you're more likely to see the big picture. there's conflict mediators who could add a lot of value in congress. it would be great to find out what kinds of incentives you could bring to the table that could encourage people to pause and say we're not qualified or takable right now of stepping out of our own problems to solve them. >> thank you. i keep thinking about this whole concept around incentives and relationship building. we talked a lot about that through your testimony. i really liked dr. miller
surrounding maybe floor time or hearings for caucus or build as a certain number of bipartisan sponsors. that's a really good incentive. i don't know what that number would be. i also really like the idea of, i guess, would you call them depolarizing exercises? anything we can do to get people to sit down and understand what motivates them and build that relationship so they can have the conversation based off of mutual respect on policy. the biggest problem is we don't agree on the problem or talk past each other on the solution.
i appreciate it. thank you. >> go ahead, mr. davis. >> typical. it's working now. it's like the conscious of how do we get to bipartisan and how do we get people talking again? congress isn't made up of the members of committee. we just been selected outside of small group. we were probably selected because we are more bipartisan, because we can understand our differences and our districts and understand how we can come together. it pains me sometimes to do this but chairman and vice chair have done a great job in moving this
process along. my biggest fear is as we keep going that even this committee will become more partisan. i hope we strive to make sure that does not happen. i really enjoy your comments and look at your opening statement. everything you mentioned in high conflict is this institution. i like to think i represent my constituents. i believe they want people who are bipartisan. there seems to be a lot of talk when you get to congress about
nonaggression packs but politics decides to get in the way as you're hear longer and ambition gets in the way. there's not -- nonaggression pacts seem to go away. there's a lot of talk about social media too. this is what i want to start with you. it was rekreptsly this week, i saw a study about twitter that went and looked at the twitter users and put it into a political perspective and said that twitter users would make up the second most democratic district in nation as you put them together as constituencies. i can tell you as somebody who gets asked a lot of questions, i think they put an over reliance on social media and the five people who may be on social media all the time criticizing any one member of congress.
what can we do to help educate on how part son some of the techniques the journalists use may be damaging the fabric of this institution. >> i'm glad that you asked because i do think part of creating new incentives has to involve the news media. i often think there should be warning that pops up when journalist open twitter that says eight of ten americans do not use this service just as a reminder. it's like cigarettes. just because it does really work, on basic human psychology is you, it's not designed for us to calibrate those messages. you get very sensitive to being attacked on twitter. there are conservatives on twitter as well. >> absolutely.
>> there's only very activist left and very activist right is like 20% of the country. they are more than twice as likely to post about politics on social media. it's not human size. we can't calibrate it. there are people working on overlays for twitter which i've beta tested a couple and i'm excited about. i would encourage more to help us see. you opt into it. it's not twitter doing it. it's like a label that says this is probably a bot or it says this person posts extreme content that's in the hospital representative of whatever you want. i was immediately able to let things roll that i might not have otherwise. dr. grant can maybe speak more to this but there's some basic
ways we know the way we process information has almost nothing to do with the way it is displayed to us as journalists and also as olympicss. there are better ways to collect feedback than twitter, for sure. i think that the news media needs to get more creative and it's hard to generalize about the news media but get more creative about covering political conflict. >> i've opened this up. i'm not going to ask another question so if anybody wants to answer or respond to this. >> dr. grant, go ahead. >> i think the polarization lab has done interesting work here where they will offer you a twitter filter that tells you how partisan and ideological your posts are. they give you a probability that you're being trolled. they show you a bipartisanship leader board. they give you the bot signal as well. i think maybe most important for congress, they give you feedback about whether you're in an echo
chamber based on who you follow and who you engage with. i think we need that calibration to figure out am i listening to a representative group of people or following victims to what most of us are 10% of twitter users drive 97% of tweets that reference national politics. i think we need to balance that out. >> speaking of balance, i mean i think there's some concern on how that balance on social media across all platforms is. i hope we can continue to work together because i think what discussion all of you bring up is very important to us and fixing this place. that's our -- that's all of us around this table. that's our goal. thank you. i appreciate it. i yield back. >> could i add something? >> sure. >> it's got to also be at the grassroots. we as a people are learning how
to use social media. as a people we're just learning to use this tool. not just the vertical stuff of people to you but we need to learn together. the newest workshop is on with unanother because you know the people going after you are going after their family members and their friends, so it's got to be at that level as well. thank you. >> may i add one last bit? i think two points that i just wanted to build upon the comments that the other panelists have mentioned. one is these facts about the distortion of twitter, those should be part of freshman orientation, right? in sessions about how to handle
social media in your office and training your staff, let's bring in some of that information perhaps. when we all hear that we go, really, 90% and 10%, huh, that's striking. maybe those are small pieces of information along the way to have a 20-minute session that talks about the distorting view that can occur. i do recognize i'm stepping out of my expertise by speaking to social media. perhaps that's one thing. the only other comment i would make is that members of congress are incentivized through elections not social media. keeping that as part of the conversation as we talk about social media, obviously it is not going away, so it continues to be an important part of
communication, but i think there would be fairly widespread consensus that it's not the ideal relationship to have with your constituents, right, is talking through social media. to the extent that it matters is because it matters in some way going back to incentives as the chair and the vice chair have mentioned, it is the electoral incentive that occurs there and ways to buttress social media so doesn't feel much bigger than anything else. >> anyone else want to pull on this thread? go ahead. >> it's really hard to see whether the microphones are on or off. there we go. >> there we go. okay. the light doesn't turn on. i appreciate what you're saying bringing into the conversation
elections and campaigns. i think that does tent to prioritize a lot of the agendas and conversations while we're here. while it's great to have conversations about how to deescalate and work together, the fact is every two years it's very tribal and it's one side against another side. it's a team. we were both mayors. in my case it was nonpartisan. you didn't have an r or a d next to your name. the discussions we had focused purely on the policy decisions we were making that tended to be much more -- once you put an r or a d next to your name, good
lord. all of a sudden people have these very strong ideas of what i stood for. that plays into it. i don't know how you avoid the every two year fight. i'm a freshman. a good friend from st. louis said the longer you're in politics, the harder it is. supporters come and go, enemies accumulate. when i decided to run in a partisan seat, i got all the republicans' enemies, not just mine. how do you see us being able to overcome and have conversations at policy levels where you're keeping the campaigns where the parties get so intricately involved? how do you keep that out and
separate? and if you can answer this question, i'll be the first to pay. [ laughter ] >> i feel an obligation that somebody has to turn on the mike here. i wish i had the perfect answer. i think you've hit on something. it is really difficult. i think in part it goes to a larger challenge in that all of you have multiple aspects of your jobs. you're legislators which what we're trying to talk about in large part here. you're representatives, you're campaigners all the time. short of turning two years into a longer term, which i'm not necessarily sure will solve the problems you're talking about, there is a real challenge in that distinction between your
legislative hat and your electoral hats. i think that does have to be recognized in the role of the parties and the national parties have good and bad to them. there's a lot of ways in which scholars find they mobilize voters, they bring people into politics and good things, but what you describe is the other hand of that. and so i'm going to a little bit punt here and say again the issue of the constituency and how to shape how voters see and perceive the information they get through the media, the way they're able to process it, you know, the parties are going to be involved in elections and the challenge is are there elements that can be made attractive or the ways in which cooperation, compromise, bipartisanship, reasonableness can be brought to the front in an election. so when we hear, as we have
here, that constituents want bipartisanship, that they want things to be done, how do we elevate that above the partisan rhetoric that occurs in the election. and i'll also pay for anybody who has the answer. >> i saw mr. lotta and mr. cleaver. at some point i do want us to dive into that topic, this whole question of even the work the braver angels does, i'm not surprised dean phillips participated in that. i think the trickier question for us is as an institution, how do we encourage those difficult conversations? how do we encourage that trust building? [ inaudible ] >> we're just talking. go ahead. mr. cleaver and mr. pearlman.
there we go. >> there we go. i serve on the energy and commerce committee and i'm the ranker oecommunications and a lot of times our mikes don't work. i appreciate you being with us today. i appreciate the comments and the discussion today. we are in a very interesting time in this country. i think you've heard from the members about social media. it's interesting, you're back home and people bring up a topic and i'll say, just out of curiousty, did you get that off the internet and they say yes. and i say every so often things on the internet are not true.
a lot of things are out there. i know in my years now i hear but civility and camaraderie out there. it's also difficult because it's been brought up about how people back home would like, you know, bipartisanship and things like that and then i'll start asking questions. tell me what you want me to start agreeing with. just start saying it and you'll go through it. it's difficult because again we have changed how people are getting their news and everything else in this counted. pardon me. so, you know, it puts us in an interesting time, but one of the things i know we were talking about too is what do we do with our staffs and it's time.
we were an 8 1/2 hour markup yesterday. pretty much i sat across the hallway in the energy and commerce committee in a markup. to get us to be in the same spot at the same time is very, very difficult. i'll tell people if you're going to get members in, you better get it done in 15 minutes because you're going to start losing people. how do we, again, with our staffs to looking at the depolarizing workshops, one-on-one facilitated, how do we get people there? time around here is our biggest enemy. what we consider maybe a 12-hour natural day might be 13, 14, 15 hours when you're here. then you go back to your districts and you're in the car. how do we get folks together? and my first question is on just how do we get people from members to staff to be able to
get to these and to see the significance in what we need to do? when it's mandated, we have certain things we have to do that are mandated and if you don't get it done, you're in trouble. if you don't take this one thing once or twice a year, staff says you've got to do this. maybe across to all of you i'll just ask that question. >> what i would say, congressman, is some of the things i'm talking about could be done between sessions. you know, you're not here all the time. we can also use zoom. when we did the congressman phillips' staffs, we did it between sessions when they had a day. then you can do a deep dive. i can see what you're all doing now. i see you running around. i don't see that perhaps as workable. but there's perhaps other times in the year when you have a little more downtime, just a
thought. and the thing about the one to ones that i suggested members of congress do, it's two one hours. your staffs can schedule two one hours at some point. if you can't do it now, you could do it between sessions. my thoughts. >> anybody else like to answer? >> i'll add something that might be interesting for the in between time, which is i know this is a swear word in some parts of government, but performance management, where is that for congress? who sits you down twice a year and lets you know these are the things you did well that made congress work better and here are the ways you undermined our collective mission and hurt our country. i wonder if you could take some of the time when you're not in session and identify a group of ideally bipartisans respected across parties who could be tasked with that independent feedback and try to hold people accountable for the contributions they make as well as what they subtract.
>> can you say more? what would that look like? can you put a little more meat on that bone? >> i guess the starting point for me would be let's do a survey of all 435 members of congress and let's find out who are the most respected members across parties. ideally we find out who is trusted by the opposite party. then we get a group of five to seven of those people and they're tasked with doing a review of each member of congress, their performance, their behavior on social media and trying to evaluate whether the behavior either lives up to or violated the values and norms that you've set forth. i don't think that feedback is always as powerful as incentive. but we do have pretty extensive evidence that when you are given feedback by people in positions of power that you trust or look up to, that does move your behavior and it's something you
pay attention to. at least it's an experiment i would be very curious to run. >> i'll kick it over to mr. cleaver. i will mention i've been also talking to sports coaches and all sorts of folks just trying to get my head around this. interestingly enough, one of the sports coaches i talked to in talking about how he turned around his team, one dr. grant, he said it was all about onboarding the freshman. that was how they set culture and changed the culture of the team. two, what you described was how he described the players' council. he said we have rules, team rules. rules are what govern us when we're at our worst to keep us from running afoul of the rules. and we had norms. we had culture that was governed by our players' council, your most respected players who would pull you aside and say you've
run afoul of the team culture we're trying to build. i mention that because it so coincides with the feedback you just gave. >> can i add to that briefly? >> please. and then mr. cleaver. >> thanks. i spent some time with the attacking vikings. when you finish a course, you radio up to give a course report to the skier after you to prepare them. there's a strong disincentive to do that, but they do it because they want norwegians to beat austrians and other countries they performing against. if you don't live by those collaborative norms, the most decorated skier on the team pulls you aside and says this is not how we do things. if that behavior is repeated,
they will build a coalition to exclude you. most of the athletes ultimately decide it's easier to work with the team than against them. >> mr. cleaver and then mr. pearlman. >> i want to follow up a little on what you said. i have a question for you i'd like for you to consider something i'm going to say. i played football. my teammates selected me captain my senior year. before the vote, the coach irvin garnet said before we vote, cleaver come to the office. i went into his office and he said, i just want to let you know that if they vote yes, which they are going to do, if you get put out of a single game for fighting, i'm removing you
from captain. i'll still let you play but you'll never be the captain of this team again. i spoke at a banquet in ft. worth, texas, and i said this is the most significant man other than my father in my life, my coach. i say that not for athletic purposes. i can barely walk. but i think from my coach, top person, the most powerful person said if you do this, you're out. it had a great influence on me. i grew up in public housing. so if you don't learn to fight -- i got a mustache because i got hit in the mouth with a brick. you got to fight. and i did.
but from the top person in charge of what i really wanted to do, what i loved almost as much as i love the world said, you do this and you're out. i guess the point i'm making is that if that happened around here, maybe, maybe, just maybe. that's just one little thing. then i'm through talking for the day. i think my colleagues have heard me say before there are agencies, organizations that score us on everything we do. you know, people say i have a thousand -- 1,000% nra vote. you know, they give organized labor, children's defense fund,
except there is not a single organization that monitors and scores us for decency and civility. and so it's easy to come to the conclusion that's not important, because everything else we're scored. yeah, you can go into the computer and find out what organization scored all of us at any time, except on civility. i'm finished. >> i'm so excited you said that. i have been talking to editors of mine about that exact thing. can we score members of congress? there's different words for it, but basically just decency. i like that word. that's a good one. then we get into the weeds about how do we do that and would it be machine learning, would it be fair and these are hard and important questions. i don't mean to to suggest they're not.
i would love to hear from you all about what those metrics would be. again, part of this has to come from interest groups and news media incentivizing different things. we thought we could rank members of congress, but would we be rewarding that in a perverse way and would it not be surprising. there's got to be a way, i agree with you, to at least surface people who are doing something differently and amplify that work. i'd love to hear any ideas you all have. >> that which we praise inspires us to do more of that which was praised. >> i also think as somebody who uses a lot of various scores and is familiar with some of these metrics, i think you point out something really important, which is that recently there are
some scores about effectiveness, we have scores for bipartisanship even, but not for civility. you really are right to call our attention to the absence of that type of metric. immediately i launch into social science brain and i start thinking about what goes into that metric, how do we measure that fairly in a way that everybody not just on this committee but all of your colleagues in the full chamber would accept as being accurate, as being fair, as you noted, and honest. i think the difficulty of the task doesn't mean it's not worth pursuing. it's exciting to hear you're actively in conversation about it and this is something that could be developed. i do think these details are critically important because developing a civility index would undo the benefit to which you call our attention. hopefully bringing it up will get some sharp minds on this
committee and in journalism perhaps and political science and other disciplines as well to think about that, and maybe having a lot of different metrics together they'll be stronger as a web of measures than any one measure. >> i'd like to follow up by saying what we've learned in the braver angels work is any decision has to be shared by reds and blues. who's the we? if the we is journalist, blue. if the we is political scientists, blue. the we who would develop this has to be people who are half and half on each side and maybe some in the middle and some others. i think you're bringing up something very important. it has to be done carefully, but who does it is key. can i say one other thing about sports? we're in the midst of the nba playoffs now.
[ laughter ] >> i saw that last night. poor milwaukee. but they are fierce competitors, but when the season is over they care about the sport, about the game. they care about whether we want to watch these teams, whether we trust them. so there's a way in which going back to this issue of you compete, you have to compete hard, but there's another way in which if people don't trust congress, what are you running for? the sports analogy makes sense to me because the leaders -- the people i admire most in those sports are the ones who represent all of the players, who represent the legacy, who care about the sport not just about their own particular winning. >> mr. -- >> all of that is a lot heavier than where i was going.
i want to try to piece together our hearing from a few days ago and today. i think it works. we've been talking about in our last hearing about empowering individual members so that we feel more worthwhile that what we're doing is worthwhile and to incentivize dialogue, conversation, good conflict. and your gladduater legislator thing hit home because the duking it out, the competition, the rough stuff we got to go through. but we're here to legislate in a perfect world and it's fun when you actually can legislate. we were talking about open rules or not. we brought it up. i'm on the rules committee. you may have seen over time us not do open rules as much, not
allow for as many amendments. morrelli suggested that in the new york legislature they allowed the sponsor to agree or disagree with amendments. and if the sponsor did not agree with the amendment, it didn't get put on. now he might not get enough votes to pass the thing, but it just reminded me it gives each of us a little more power as to what we're doing. within the context of germaneness, i'd like to add x amendment. now he and i are talking and it isn't only leadership saying what's allowed, what's not allowed. i want to come with a structural approach that empowers individuals and incents conversation in a good conflict kind of sense.
if you're having these kind of conversations, everybody is buying into it more. i don't know. i don't mean to do a filibuster. just curious if you have any comments on that. >> i think what you describe is exactly the types of innovations that we need to think about. similarly, the possibility of providing a pathway to bills that demonstrate bipartisan support or guaranteeing active caucuses, because i know there are many with some more active than others. one bill, they can have one priority of congress that will get basically a fast track in the procedures. i mean, some of these are going to be more workable than others, but they all need to be discussed. i think one of the challenges that we face as we put us all in the same group together to use the we trying to think about solutions is, as was talked about last week, are the rise of
omnibus legislation. so when we don't have the sponsor of the bill as you just described, doesn't really control it. it is unlikely they have a freestanding bill coming to which they could give their yea or nay on that particular amendment. that broader challenge on whether we try to revise and move away from this dependence on omnibus legislation. there's also an approach to say omnibus is here to stay. this is the way we work. we can't go back to the congress of the '70s. let's make the omnibus -- improve it. as we come up with particular ideas and reform, some of that is going to come down to how do we see the omnibus. is this a permanent feature of our modern congress? in which case that type of proposal is going to be more limited in its application.
or if we roll back the omnibus, something like that can leapfrog to the top of ideas, because that might be something that a lot of members would be pleased to support. >> one of the reasons i brought this up is we're trying to avoid the gotcha amendments, the gladiator piece of this. it's constructive. he comes up with an amendment. i may not love it and i can deal with it and i've got his vote, i don't care whether i've gotten his vote or her vote, i got a vote. that's kind of how our legislature in colorado worked. 35 of us and you don't care where you get the votes, you just want the votes to get your bill done. it's very different than this place. >> i want to invite others to take a swing at that pitch, because i think the issue that he is raising is one of the
clearest examples of broken culture, right? i mention this to dr. grant when i first talked to him about this problem. both of us came out of state legislatures. every bill that was brought up in my state legislature was brought up under an open rule. if you had an amendment that was all germane, you could offer it, it would be debated and voted on. i can think of eight years in olympia, maybe five, maybe six times when that was politicized, when someone said i'm going to play gotcha with this so i can bludgeon you during the campaign. other than that, if they wanted, they offered an amendment. you say that in this town and it's laughable. that's without regard to party. both sides do this. what happens is we have a very closed process so the minority feels like they've been
sidelined. as i've shared in this committee before, a legislature sidelined is not unlike not keeping the family puppy constructively engaged. it chews the furniture. there's a lot of furniture chewing that happens in the u.s. capitol. did anyone want to take a swing are there ways -- if we recommend open rule right now, that is saying i invite you to put your head into the mouth of the lion. how might we constructively engage members on the floor for amendments. you got any other ideas? and then i'll kick it over to mr. phillips. >> again, i don't know the
specifics of congress like you do or like my colleagues here do, but i can say it's a chicken and egg situation. in high conflict, everyone is some various level of miserable and it pulls you in, but you also want out. there's a paradox in high conflict. everybody wants something else on some level. so the more you experience agency and effectiveness and getting little things done, the more you want of that. so is there a way, given the institution and the rules you have, to sort of start small and get people that experience? it also comes with encounters that are well managed like braver angels and especially good when you have a common problem you're working on across the divide. i think it would have this positive feedback loop of not only do you feel more agency and more efficacy so you're getting incentivized to do more, but it
also breaks down some of the prejudices between groups when you're in encounters with a common problem. there's a lot to that that makes sense. this is the most misunderstood thing i think about at least it was a big surprise for me. all over the world when people finally experience good conflict, even in war zones, they want more. it is like almost addictive. would you agree with that? once you experience it, especially when you've been so deprived of it, you just are like wow, there's a euphoria that comes from actually even as you continue to deeply disagree. [ inaudible ] >> mr. phillips?
>> let me start by saying i love this. this hearing and this construct with my colleagues and these witnesses and this subject reinspire my faith in this institution and the opportunity we can do better. i want to respond to a couple notions the first of which is a sports metaphor. i have to inject hockey. one of the most beautiful elements of hockey is after a battle, both teams line up and shake hands. that's the tradition. it's a beautiful, important part of the sport. did it since before i could walk. i could just envision when we open a new congress and when we close, could you imagine 200 or so members on each side of the aisle getting in a line and simply shaking hands to begin the congress and to end it. symbolism matters and visuals matter and that would be a beautiful thing for us to consider. scoring civility, love that notion. one of the great ways to do so
is to simply ask the other side to score the other side, right? ask members on the left side to score those on the right and vice versa. it gives us incentive to be decent to each other if you want to score high on the civility scoreboard. it gives us a small incentive but a meaningful one to score each other. last and perhaps equally importantly, we're not going to put an end to conflict entrepreneurs, we're not going to end angertainment, we sure as heck can't affect the political duopoly between republicans and democrats. mr. grant, you talk about trust. what we can effect, i think, is trust, quite easily actually. dr. doherty i would love if you
would share with my colleagues what you heard after you did that retreat with staff? >> thank you. what really came out of this was this awareness of many more commonalities than they had realized. i'll give you an example. when we did the life experiences exercise, what life experiences have influenced your approach to public policy and public good, what they discovered was how many of them on each side had religious roots to their interest and passion for social change and that those who came out of college with those ideals, those who are more conservative moved in one direction, took up issues of abortion and pro life for example.
those who were more liberal moves into the social justice and poverty area, but the roots are similar. that was something that was not expected. the second thing is in all of our workshops we do a humility part of it. one of the things we did was have each group separately come up with two issues that their member of congress cares a lot about. then to ask these questions how is this stereotype misunderstood demagogued by others. mining was one, immigration was another. so that was the first question. the second question was respond to those stereotypes. what do you really think? the third one was how could this policy run aground? what are some downsides, what are some possible unintended consequences? how might it end up in ten years not working as well as you'd like? they all nailed the third one.
they all nailed the third one. everybody could say behind closed doors, yeah, you know, we don't know what it's going to cost eventually, we don't know in ten years how it's going to look. this is our best shot at it. my point is that when they were able to articulate both what they love and also what their concerns are with humility, there was a powerful connection, there was a "we" that formed here. >> stronger coming from you than from me. i just want to reenforce that because having seen the effect this had on our staffs, recognizing how we could embed that into the culture here is really powerful stuff. we all know we can't work with people we don't trust and we can't trust people we don't know. sadly, this institution very much focuses on separation on day one, it really does. the efforts to get us to know
each other. by the way, telling a life story is so illuminating and informing because it expresses why we might see things a little bit differently. when we do that, we always find something that unifies us. i continue to implore that we bake that into day one here, and not just with new members, but with staff. we all know how powerful staffs that know each other and respect each other and trust one another can get things done here too. to the extent that we might consider embedding this into our orientation program might be one of the most fundamental changes we could make for the country. so thank you. >> did you want to chime in here? go ahead, dr. miller. >> i apologize. just add one small point about staff, which is that in other research in a congressional capacity i've looked a lot at staff and staff knowledge and staff satisfaction and retention. i think one little perk to set
here and it's more than a little perk really is that this would also improve staff member satisfaction and it would help retain staff and that's something that will serve the institution better. if we can reduce some of the turnover and kind of build that institutional knowledge in productive and collaborative ways, i think everybody will really benefit from that. thumbs up for that one. >> hear hear. thank you. >> ms. williams. >> i couldn't agree more with a lot of the conversations being held. we all view life through lived experiences. that will give us a problem when we look at the ratings because civility is going to mean something very different to different people based on their lived experiences. ms. ripley i did not have the good fortune of reading the book before i came to this hearing, but now i want to buy it because i want to explore the notion of
the good conflict versus the work that has come to mean something completely different around bipartisanship, because bipartisanship has come to mean we're not moving the needle. i feel like my people are still being left out and left behind, because if we're working in a bipartisan fashion, that means we're not able to do some of the things that are actually making progress because all of the bipartisan conversations get so watered down that nothing is actually happening. i want to explore more of the notion of continuing to get into this good trouble, because we all have an obligation to speak up and to serve our people that we're here to represent, butin this notion of good conflict and where the dividing line is and how do we get into this good trouble. we should all be listening to
each other and learning from that because these robust debates shouldn't be gotcha moments and shouldn't be cheap political hits, but actually trying to get to this commonality so we are advancing policies that serve all the people. i would love to hear more about how are y'all going to help us get there. besides telling everybody to read this book. >> reading my book, of course. this is the thing. what's the distinction? i have found it's not hard to tell the difference between good conflict and high conflict. some of the things that characterize good conflict are that we might not expect with bipartisan or unity, you can have good conflict and have a lot of anger, right? you can have sadness, you can have fear. all of that is good. we can work with those. anger is actually really important, because it suggests that you want the other person to be better. where you get into high
conflict, you see things like humiliation. humiliation is probably the key most underappreciated accelerant for high conflict. anything that makes someone feel like they've been brought low, especially publicly. that's one to avoid because you're basically handing a weapon to your opponent when you humiliate them. contempt, disgust, dehumanization, those things are high conflict. there are other things. again, to your point, we have to get out of this trap of thinking it's either what we're doing or unity. again, to the point of rankings, right, i'm sort of less interested at this point when i cast my own votes which members are bipartisan and which are this and which are that. i'm more interested in which ones are decent to each other and are not conflict
entrepreneurs. it's hard to know that unless you're a student of politics and congress. i think there are ways to tell the difference and there are ways to cultivate. you need to create guardrails in your institution so you don't fall into high conflict especially when your institution is designed to create it. i had the privilege of following a group of very progressive new yorkers from a synagogue on the upper west side who were frustrated after trump won his election and very distraught and didn't know any trump supporters. they ended up through a series of strange events going to spends three nights in the homes of conservative christian corrections officers in rural michigan, because there was someone who knew both groups. so they go. by the way, there's a lot of trepidation on both sides. people couldn't sleep the night before. both sides thought this was
crazy. the conservatives in michigan thought what if it's antifa coming into their homes. never mind it's older jewish women. the new yorkers felt like what are we doing, we're crazy, we're literally putting our heads in the mouths of lions. they went and i got to sort of watch, do a ride-along on this. they went to a firing range and they went to dinner and they had really hard conversations across some big divides with some ground rules. it was almost like a couple things happened that might be relevant. first of all, all the things we disagree about, say it's a big pie, like we have a big cherry pie here. there's some percentage of it that's deep, profound, real disagreement. i don't know what that is. maybe it's 50%. then there's this percentage that we think we disagree about but we actually are totally misunderstanding each other. that's a mysterious and intriguing percentage.
i guarantee you it's bigger than what we thought. conservatives are like, wait, you're actually okay with having a border for the country? and the liberals are like we're okay with that and vice versa. they've been fed totally different news diets and stereotypes about one another. there are things they would hey agree on the they had the same set of facts. that's another slice of pie. the last piece of pie that's intriguing to me is the percentage of things neither of them actually knows what to think about, has a lot of internal conflict about and is torn about, because these are hard problems. once you're in a safe space, you're able to surface that complexity and contradiction. one of the concern the corrections came over to me at some point about two days in and she pulled me aside and said, you know what's really weird?
i'm starting to actually like these people. it's a feeling that comes over you before you even articulate it, like a feeling like, wow, i do not agree with many things these people are saying and i'm kind of enjoying this. anyway, that was an example of good conflict created on purpose across a big divide. >> thank you. i think something that i would welcome all of my colleagues and the panelists today, cheering on the atlanta hawks would be a good way for us to come together. [ laughter ] >> may i add one comment on this? i think one of the things this conversation really got me thinking about is the difference between compromise and common ground. i think those get muddled even amongst congressional scholars and probably in your own conversations with yourselves and your staffs, and i think this notion of the false dichotomy of unity or high conflict. perhaps sometimes we're not
looking for everybody to agree. that's common ground. there are some things where that just isn't going to occur, but that doesn't mean we can't find compromise, which is a very different concept. amendments, those are compromises. that's not necessarily common ground. it's saying can i get this thing on there too and you'll get my vote? it's not getting your pure dream bill but getting most of what you want and letting some other people get what they want. it might be helpful to be mindful of that difference when we talk about things and set up our goals for the incentives that we have because those sometimes lead us on the same path and sometimes on different paths. >> dr. grant, did you want to chime in on this topic too? >> yeah. i wanted to add that i went through conflict mediation training about two decades ago. i think it's something every member of congress should be required to do. one of the most useful skills is
just to diffuse and neutralize an attempt to drag me into high conflict. if someone were to humiliate me, i could step out and talk about the rules of the game a little bit. hey, it seems like you're trying to humiliate me. is that what you're trying to accomplish? i thought you were above that, but let me know. give them a chance to disown it. the moment you signal that you know what the person is up to is the moment that you pull them out of the fray a little bit and you're able to have a conversation about the conversation. what are the rules of engagement, what kind of norms of civility do we want to follow. i think those interpersonal skills might come in handy for some members of congress, but you all would know better than i do. >> i think one of the things each of you has highlighted is the opportunity for members of
congress to get training on what you should know about social media, on how to negotiate. you know, our committee has made some -- this is the first place i've ever worked where as an employee of this institution other than freshman orientation, there's not any structured professional development at all, which i think is bonkers. you've given us some good material here. >> can i add one thing? >> and then i got you, mr. joyce. >> this really important question about having good sharp conflict that isn't just watered down. i'm really glad you raised that, because people can think we'll just sort of find the mushy middle. what we've learned at braver angels is you can have sharp, well-defined disagreement. we have a whole debate series. the key thing is the guardrails. if you and i are in a debate, you speak your views, i speak my
views, i try to listen to yours and vice versa, but i don't try to characterize your views and particularly i don't try to characterize your motives. stick to the issues, stick to the values, don't characterize the motives of the other person and don't use my terms to describe their position. maybe in an election i would, okay, if i'm competing. but if we're legislating, don't use my terms for what you're doin and don't attack your motives. we've had debates on the election was stolen. a recent one that took my breath away is resolve that sometimes violence could be necessary to bring about a larger good. oh my goodness. then you have people on either side who rationally discuss that and don't attack the other person's motives and don't
characterize the other person's position. out of two hours, people find, oh, actually we are close here. if you set the guardrails of the process, somebody has to hold that, then you can have sharp differences at the end of it and we both have influenced each other even if we don't agree. >> i want to bring mr. joyce in on this. i will say in response to what you just said mr. cleaver has often raised the in fact the rules of the house, if we enforce them, the rules say you're not allowed to impugn the motives of your colleagues. yet, watch floor debate. somebody should be empowered to say, out of line. >> the chair or the speaker is supposed to. >> yeah. mr. joyce? >> thank you.
first, dr. doherty, in getting prepared for this hearing, it was interesting to find that i actually have a chapter in northeastern ohio. i appreciate what your organization is doing about reminding folks of the commonalities we have. i think if people take the time to listen in this town -- unfortunately there are a lot of talkers, not so many listeners. when you listen you're able to get to those commonalities. the one thing i found in my ninth year here now, unfortunately we say we're member driven, but most of the big things that have come through start in the speaker's office and come down. with that being the case, what do you think it would take to incentivize leadership to start being more bipartisan and get to that buy-in?
i'm a guy who got here in november of 2012. was on the hit list and already had an important for 2014. having been a lawyer, you're used to the negotiation of going back and forth and things don't just happen. you have to listen to folks and take offers back and forth and work through those problems. i've never seen leadership take the time to incentivize that. we've talked about the individuals coming forward. if we're top down driven, how do we get buy-in from leadership other than changing leadership completely? i get that. >> anyone want to take a swing at that pitch? [ laughter ] >> this is outside of my expertise, but if i'm a leader of an organization that the public does not trust, maybe i
should try something different. >> mr. joyce, any other threads you want to pull there? [ inaudible ] >> yeah. yeah. >> i'm tempted to leave it on that note because i think you nailed it. but at the risk of overstaying, i think one of the things that's interesting in the research that i did with the scientists and psychologists, what emerged is that party leaders are actually very good at actively managing conflict within their party. they demonstrate a lot of the things that organizational psychologists look for in letting dissent be voiced in these norms or guardrails. when you're within your own party caucus, it stays in the caucus room. you give leadership a heads-up. but there's an expectation there
will be dissent. leaders have certain tools and techniques they use to get you on board and let you know when it's okay to not be on board. there is a skill set there that everybody, both the leadership and members of both parties have honed when they're within their own party. that's the rosy side of it. the challenge comes when we look across the parties on high salience issues. on low salience issues, leadership neither encourage nor discourage. they're too busy to deal with the small issues. but that was a gift to members, because that gave members the space to cooperate on the things that matter to their district. and maybe a member of the other party has a district with needs like yours and that's the place or maybe it's common personal experience or life stories and that brings you to a place and their leadership is just kinds
of hands off. the challenges are the high salience issues across the parties. there we come back to the challenge of elections and that leaders roll in those places and really discouraging and actively working against colleagues across the aisle by putting folks on a hit list right off the bat or what have you. it is a function of what one of my colleagues dr. francis lee has talked about as this constant competition to win the majority. competition is good. we seek it many ways in political life, but one of the challenges is that as we get more competitive winning the competition becomes focal to both sides more of the time. when one party dominates or the other, of course one side likes it and one doesn't, but everybody knows kind of how it's going to play out. when you have every two years
something could change, it makes that electoral context for party leaders very salient. i think that slice of the pie is the toughest one to figure out. it's going to be really hard to change the us versus them, the win/lose. at least as our elections are structured, there is win and lose. that, to me, is the toughest challenge, not to say that we shouldn't tackle it. hopefully maybe we can build up to that challenge by addressing some of the other areas first that might give us a better handle on that. thank you. >> i want to get back to how we disincentivize conflict entrepreneurs. we talked about a number of different ways. i like the idea of civility scoring. mr. cleaver talked about that. more bipartisanship scoring, more methods of making people
proud to be collaborative, to solve problems and to facilitate hard discussions. what other thoughts do y'all have in this area? i think it's got to be intraparty policing and there's mentorship, leadership, there's all these different ways to try to help address conflict entrepreneurs. i think orientation is an important part, training is an important part. do you have any additional thoughts on the subject of disincentivizing conflict entrepreneurs? >> i have one thought that i think brings together your question and ms. williams' question as well and the notion of humiliation that ms. ripley mentioned. there may be instances, for example, on committees and bringing in trust where this is always tricky because we want transparency, but sometimes that encourages the gotcha moments.
it encourages those humiliation moments that can go out, whether social media or not. maybe there might be instances where committees could opt for attendance only. you're showing up to do the work and you can tell your constituents you were there but maybe not everything is on the record. there can be moments to have those conversations where there's not the gotcha dynamic or posturing. there may be opportunities to try to find a new balance between that accountability that is so important to americans' trust in our congressional institutions, but also to acknowledge what i'm hearing from you and others that sometimes everything having the spotlight on it makes it hard to really have these conversations. from what i'm hearing from my colleagues on the panel that creating those spaces can be valuable. maybe there's small moments like that that can help diffuse and build some of that dynamic.
>> i was going to add to that. it pains me as a reporter to endorse the idea of more confidential meetings with politicians but that's just true. it's human psychology. there needs to be places where no one's performing and many more of those places. then the other thing is the opposite of that, like the stort of how we got here was through national media and politicians modeling high conflict as entertainment. but there are other ways you can tell stories. there's a show in canada called "political blind date." has anyone heard of this show? it's actually pretty successful and there's one like it in the uk where they take politicians across the aisle and they have to spend the day together. they don't know who it's going to be until they get there. and they do something together that's relevant like if one is against legalizing marijuana, the other is for it, they visit like a marijuana processing factory and they go on a bike
ride. i mean, they do things. it's a little cheesy, but because one on one it's harder to be really demeaning, and even though there's cameras there, right, it's a one on one encounter, and there are these moments that are kind of good television, believe it or not. it's the opposite of what we expect. so i'm sure you are all going to sign up for this show. trying to get it optioned to the u.s. p. we're just happy this hearing is on c-span. thank you, c-span. thank you. >> follow up with one quick example. so i was invited on a congressional delegation trip with a number of senators. six months into my first term. i actually barely knew the members of the house republican party so i didn't know anybody in the senate. and i was on this plane for six, seven hours and i got to speaking with one of them at length. we had a lot in common.
we really developed a relationship. and i actually didn't know he was a democrat. and we talked about it and then i got off the plane and googled him. he's a democrat? wow. so i mean, don't get me wrong. it's a very challenging thing to re-create, but it's just a perfect example of how we have so much in common, we agreed on a lot. and we built a relationship without the lens of politics. so i just think that that's a focus that we have to make because you are not going to be mean to somebody that you have a mutual respect relationship from and that's really what is missing in congress because i don't know a lot of my colleagues across the aisle. i don't know a lot -- there's just so many people here. it's challenging. that's something we need -- >> dr. gray, can i bring you in on this, too. >> sure. i was thinking a little bit about the research that psychologists and sociologists are doing on moral reframe chicago is the idea of learning to speak the language of other
people. as opposed to just your own. there's so much divide when we talk about climate change. i hear liberals constantly trying to advance it in terms of protecting the planet for future generations. why not reframe that as the data shows this works better if you're speaking to someone who is conservative and say, we're here to protect god's earth. or we need to maintain the purity of our planet. and this is a skill set that i think all of us can learn. i think it's a lot easier to appeal to values people already hold than it is to change them and maybe just to tell a quick story that illustrates this. there was a college student named paul butler who went to st. lucia a couple of decades ago, long before the environmental movement. he found out there was a parrot there in danger of extinction. he decided he wanted to save it. there's only one problem with this campaign. he made it up.
there's no such thing as a st. lucia parrot. but the moment he called it the st. lucia parrot, people started saying this is our bird and he activated their national pride. this -- i think this strategy has now been applied in a couple hundred places to save dozens and dozens of animals and the formula is simple. it's save the blank blank. the first blank is the name of the place. the second is the name of the animal. and i think that that skill set, right, of just understanding what the audience already values and then connecting to to your idea, it helps you move forward common ground and the conflict entrepreneurs don't have a lot to work with. >> one thing to add, i'm sure, on your trip, you broke bread a lot. and every religious tradition that i know of, a common meal is part of the connector. and that would be one -- this is one way to humanize each other. >> pass the potato chips. >> and so that would be a simple -- a simple way.
because it's hard to demonize somebody you break bread with regularly. it's hard to demonize them. >> dr. king did that magnificently. i mean -- >> into the microphone. >> the day before he was assassinated he had gotten in a big argument with jesse jackson. and if you go to the lorraine motel, one of the things you'll see is the lunch that dr. king had ordered on the table, petrified. but he always did it if he had an argument. and he said, let's have lunch the next day. so i do think that there is power in breaking bread together. i don't know. we rarely ever, ever do that, unless maybe it's -- and that's because this place is messed up. and so everywhere in america they had lunch except here.
i mean, you know, you may have two hearings from 11:00 to 1:00 and so we -- i mean, we do -- a lot of the things we do, i think we practiced it to do it on ourselves. do it to ourselves. i mean, we -- i've said enough about it. >> go ahead. >> there's so much low-hanging fruit here. the fact that you all don't eat together, ever, is astounding to me. like that seems like a fixable problem. and, yeah, it is one of the conditions that leads to good conflict. having food together. it's basic. music. starting a meeting with music. like there's some basic things that are just like low-hanging fruit, right, and maybe they can be meals that are influenced by a certain region of the country or state, right? or ways that you're blurring the lines between democrat and republican based on something that's real. and resonant for people.
and i would just add that it's not only that it's harder to -- there's so many benefits. it's not only harder to demonize or be mean to someone you have a relationship with. that's true. and you know more deeply what is actually -- what is driving them, right? so the st. lucia parrot example, what are the words and perspectives that are going to resonate with this person because you understand what you actually disagree about. >> right. >> which is a huge deal. you know, most conflicts are not about the thing we say they're about. there's an understory to the conflict. so, you know, when married couples fight about money. it's about 100 other things, right? and it's -- there's a million examples of this from people who work with couples, but it's never about the thing we fight about. figure out, what is it about? it may take six hours on a flight, but you can get there. you're able to get more done because you know what's going on with them, really, not just what
they're saying. and the third benefit of these relationships that's very tangible is that you can help when the crises happen. you can call them and find out what's actually going on. so the way you prevent political violence all over the world and the u.s. has spent a lot of money on this trying to help other countries do this is to have relationships across divides so you can snuff out rumors and fake news and false -- disinformation so that things do not escalate very quickly. so there's like lots of really -- beyond, you know, it's just nice. lots of really good benefits. >> go ahead, dr. green. >> if i could just make one more point before i have to exit for my next meeting, i think one of the virtues of having a large organization of 435 people is you have lots of subcultures, right? lots of different kinds of relationships and collaborations represented across congress. and one of the things we often study in psychology is the idea that you don't necessarily have
to start with the problems. in some cases you can look for the bright spots. the pockets of excellence where people are trying to make progress and advance toward meaningful solutions, i think this committee might be an example of that. but i would love to see a poll done of congress of what are some of the proudest moments that you've experienced during your time here where people actually thought about what was good for the country. as opposed to their own base or own agenda or own party. and then as you -- and then spread them into orientation, into training and ideally give the people responsible as well leadership roles because they are culture carriers. and if you find those pockets of excellence, you're in a better position than to make sure they scale across the organization. thank you for having me. >> thank you. i feel like that's a good place to stick the landing on this hearing. with that, i want to thank all of our witnesses for their testimony and i'd like to thank
our committee members for their participation. i also want to thank our staff for pulling together such great witnesses and for securing the armed services room. and c-span, thanks again. without objection, all members have five legislative days within which to submit additional questions for the witnesses to the chair which will be forwarded to the witnesses for their response. i ask our witnesses to respond as promptly as you are able. without objection, all members have five legislative days within which to submit extraneous materials to the chairman for inclusion in the record. with that, we are adjourned. thanks. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]