A number of years ago Newt Gingrich founded American Solutions for Winning the Future. It turned out to be something of a stalking horse for his 2012 presidential run, but the organization was seriously active for a number of years as a platform for Gingrich in the public square.

American Solutions and Gingrich spoke a lot about “tripartisan solutions” as an alternative to the left/right political divide. In short, the idea was to rely on data to discover policy issues that a majority of Americans—independent, Democratic, Republican—agreed on, and speak for those issues. Whether that has ever really worked in the politics is something I’ll leave for another time.

(I think journalists would probably do well to adopt this thinking in their reporting, though. Imagine any candidate or public official being asked something like, “A majority of every major constituency in the county agrees we should do more of X. Why aren’t you doing more of X?” It would highlight the effects of lobbying in a pretty stark way; certainly more starkly than complaining about lobbying.)

But the idea of identifying common issues that way is something that’s stuck with me. It’s a useful way to move forward in a way where no one feels like they’ve compromised their position, because in reality they haven’t.

When a majority of every faction in a decision-making process agrees on something, you typically just need the right personality and language to help everyone discover that they basically agree.