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3 Areas Where Republicans and Democrats Are Finding Common Ground

3 Areas Where Republicans and Democrats Are Finding Common Ground

Amid all of the chatter about a nation bitterly divided, a set of issues are bringing together politicians from both sides of the political aisle in the United States.

Here are 3 legislative efforts where Republicans and Democrats are finding areas of agreement. The problems are so dire that while some differences in approach remain neither party can deny the severity these issues present. 

1. Criminal Justice Reform

Despite the advocacy of Democrats, key Republicans like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and notable conservatives, efforts to reform the nations prison and criminal justice systems on the federal level have stalled. But unlikely alliances are forming in the U.S. Senate and significant movement is happening in some states.

As The Christian Post reported earlier this month, at Google's first-ever summit on criminal justice reform on Dec. 1 Utah Republican Mike Lee praised his Senate colleague Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, for his work on this issue. Lee became particularly passionate about reforming the prison system after seeing offenders sentenced with "unreasonably harsh" penalties for nonviolent crimes. He told attendees that one case he came across when he was a federal prosecutor involved a man who was caught selling a very small amount of marijuana and was sentenced to 55 years in prison.

"You put any conventional conception of American politics, you will see him on one pole and me towards the other," Booker said then. "But we are two Americans, who in this time of fierce divisiveness in our country, see each other, first and foremost, as fellow Americans. When I joined Congress, we didn't look to find what divided us, we looked for common ground."

Steve Hawkins, president of the Coalition for Public Safety, a bipartisan group that advocates for prison reform, told CP in a September interview that rarely does one find an issue where the left-wing American Civil Liberties Union and conservative groups like Americans for Tax Reform come together for reforms of this nature.

2. Fighting Pornography and Protecting Children from Online Predators

For the first time in American history recognizing the harms of pornography, particularly the online variety, made its way into a major political party's platform. At their national convention in Cleveland in July, the Republicans included language which stated that "the Internet must not become a safe haven for predators."

"Pornography, with its harmful effects, especially on children, has become a public health crisis that is destroying the life of millions," the provision continues. "We encourage states to continue to fight this public menace and pledge our commitment to children's safety and well-being. We applaud the social networking sites that bar sex offenders from participation. We urge energetic prosecution of child pornography which closely linked to human trafficking."

Such sentiment is shared by many who lean left. Feminist Gail Dines, a professor of sociology at Wheelock College and author of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, noted in Nov. 29 article in the Public Health Post that widespread use of porn has resulted in a public health crisis that undermines women's and children's rights. This issue cannot be viewed as a matter of mere private consumption in light of the vast body of scientific research showing the damaging effects of pornography, she argued.

"[J]ust as the tobacco industry argued for decades that there was no proof of a connection between smoking and lung cancer, so too has the porn industry, with the help of a well-oiled public relations machine, denied the existence of empirical research on the impact of its product," Dines said.

CP reported on Aug. 4, that then candidate Donald Trump signed an Internet Safety pledge from Enough is Enough, a non-profit Internet safety advocacy organization. The pledge he signed was an 8-page document that asked the next president to appoint an Attorney General committed to upholding existing anti-obscenity statutes and to give law enforcement the necessary legal tools to enforce those laws more aggressively.

Although Secretary Hillary Clinton did not sign the pledge her campaign did voice support for EIE's stated goals.

3. Combating the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic

This year the heroin epidemic became an issue in the presidential campaign, a problem that continues to ravage communities and states across the nation.

In July, President Obama signed into law The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, a bill sponsored by Ohio Senator Rob Portman, a Republican, which passed in the Senate with a large bi-partisan vote of 92-2.

While the President criticized Republicans for blocking Democratic efforts to include provisions to fund treatment programs in the bill, he acknowledged the legislation contained "modest steps" to fight the scourge.

The push to address this has no doubt been fueled by the number of deaths that have skyrocketed in the past few years. USA Today noted on Sept. 16 that opioid and heroin addiction have "earned the distinction as the single greatest drug threat in the U.S., largely due to a casualty rate that has nearly quadrupled since 1999," and that the federal government's efforts to combat the scourge have been "spotty."

The state of New Hampshire has been especially hard hit, with 2015 reports showing that heroin and other drugs killed more people in the state than traffic accidents in all of 2014.

Follow Brandon Showalter on Twitter: @BrandonMShowFollow Brandon Showalter on Facebook: @BrandonMShow

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