DENVER- Mark Gerzon, an author and cross-party conversation expert, spoke at the University of Denver on Tuesday to advocate for the importance of cross-party relations and conversations in and out of Washington D.C. in his speech titled, “How To Bridge the Partisan Divide No Matter Who Wins the Election”.
In Washington D.C., Grezon facilitated the first House of Representatives Bipartisan Congressional Retreat. He argued that in order to bridge the massive divide of the two party ideologies, everyone must be involved in recognizing our “technicolor nation” that is built with more than just “blue” and “white”.
Tamra Pearson d’Estree introduced Gerzon in part by stating a statistic by the Pew Research Center that found The United States to be more ideologically divided than ever before.
The research done by the Pew Research Center opened into a series of questions proposed by Gerzon relating to the political atmosphere in America. Gerzon stated each question with a sense of irony, ending the series with the thesis of his speech.
“Can we harness conflict so it meets Einstein’s challenge,” Gerzon said, “is there some way harnessing this conflict so that it’s actually good for the country, so it actually raises the level of civic duty?”
The famous quote by Einstein that Gerzon referred to as “Einstein’s challenge” basically says that we cannot solve problems at the same level of consciousness that we created them.
Gerzon’s then explained that the solution to bridging the massive divide is education and understanding beginning when we are very young.
“Our founding fathers did not want us to be red or blue,” said Gerzon, “they wanted us to be learners.”
He noted the theoretical political, and literal physical, “right” and “left” sides of our bodies that work together. However, Gerzon points out that in politics, conflict is expected and seemingly unresolvable between party lines.
Gerzon continually referred to the current political system as “paralysed”. The paralyzed governance refers to the refusal of both sides to work together and compromise, resulting in nothing getting accomplished.
In closing, Gerzon returned to his original question of what would allow us to meet Einstein’s challenge.
“It’s the quality of engagement between competing mindsets,” Gerzon said, “and competing worldviews that determines whether meet Einstein’s challenge.”
After a long applause, the speech opened up to a question and answer section that led to many fiery questions and statements from the audience. The majority of questions were asked by the elderly portion of the crowd, which enhanced Gerzon’s opinion of this being a historic election.
“I’ve been a part of the voting population for fifty years now, and I’ve never seen anything like it.” said one man.
A young college aged student asked a question essential to Gerzon’s point on how to bridge the gap once the election is over.
“This election has torn apart both relationships with my family and friends,” she said, “what will post election conversations look like?”
Gerzon responded with a series of rhetorical questions about why the election has changed the relationship. Without assuming the answer, Gerzon left the young women with a statement that would need more thought from her.
“You need to get clear with your purpose, if your goal is relationship, the answer is much easier, in politics it gets hard.”
The final question was presented by Tamra Pearson d’Estree.
“If we were to apply some of those lessons on how we create a process for parties to hear each other and move towards a common solution,” d’Estree said, “what would be some of those pieces we need to use when we are talking about the larger body of politics”
Gerzon responded with a metaphor for the importance of “third party”, or nonpartisan “referee” to encourage sportsmanship and enforce ground rules.
“Look at what we do in football and basketball,” Gerzon said, “if we did anything remotely like that in politics we would have the greatest country on earth.”