Finding Common Ground: The Art of Legislating in an Age of Gridlock, Dave Bishop

Reviewed by Carly Schmitt



Reflecting on his 20-year career as a state legislator, Dave Bishop provides a template for success in making public policy. The target audience is the legislator, but along the way, Bishop provides insight for academics into how the policymaking process advances, gridlocks, and what it takes to be successful in shepherding legislative proposals through the complex lawmaking process. With more than 200 authored bills and amendments passed into public law, Bishop, who spent most of his legislative career in the minority party, provides a prescription for navigating the tricky business of changing public policy.

At the outset, Bishop takes the position that thinking solely along narrow partisan lines runs counter to the goals of elected office. Throughout the text, he contends that this type of narrow thinking will not lead to policy change—the primary objective of legislators. Instead, Bishop argues that legislators must build bridges within and between chambers, including with those of the other party, so as to reach a common goal. This is particularly important when legislators are in the minority, as it takes majority cooperation to pass legislation. Although some legislators are predisposed to not reach across the aisle so as to see the other party fail, others take the position that cross-party collaboration can make for good public policy. By perceiv

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