This is the first in a series of guest blog posts that we'll be publishing. The author is Stuart Cohen, a supporter of the Coalition.
We challenge all House members, each Senator, every state legislator, as well as regular citizens to get together for lunch with a member of the other party once a month.
Get to know who your political opponents are. Recall that Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neil were personally friendly when they weren't battling politically, and that Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch worked together closely to shape legislation for years.
Talking with the other side broadens your understanding of issues that matter. Those sitting across the aisle from you care just as much about America as you do even as they understand issues differently. You owe it to your constituency to know why they think the way they do; no one was elected unanimously.
If you're uncomfortable one-on-one, start by talking about anything but politics: family, background, the shared demands of the job. You and they have much more in common than the policy points on which you disagree.
Don't expect to change the other person's mind. Listen and expect to be listened to. Learn. You will become a more effective legislative leader or citizen. The nation's future depends on wise political leadership.
You cannot be effective in a rapidly changing world by looking inward and talking only with those who mirror your views. Have a nice lunch with someone from the other side. Next month, do it again with someone else.
If you have a bipartisan story you'd like to share, or if you'd like to publish a guest blog post, let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org