WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Governor Spencer Cox (R-Utah) on Tuesday announced the launch of a national effort to convene discussions around how to restore the value of the common good to American life. Murphy and Cox have assembled a group of leading thought leaders, researchers, and writers on the left and right to participate in the project, with the goal of moving the political conversation away from what traditionally divides us and towards a new discussion centered around what gives people purpose and meaning and how policy can support our collective success. In the coming weeks, Murphy, Cox, and group members will participate in a series of roundtable conversations with stakeholders and practitioners on the ground across the country.

The group includes:

  • Bishop William Joseph Barber II, President and Senior Lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, Co-Chair of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, Founding Director of the Center for Public Theology and Public Policy at Yale Divinity School
  • Felicia Wong, president and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute
  • Tim Carney, Senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
  • Yuval Levin, Director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at AEI
  • Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Professor of psychology and neuroscience and director of the Social Connection & Health Lab at Brigham Young University
  • Ian Corbin, Philosopher on the Neurology faculty at Brigham and Women's Hospital & Harvard Medical School and a Senior Fellow at the think tank Capita
  • Sam Quinones, journalist, author, and former LA Times reporter

Murphy and Cox released the following mission statement with support from the group:

"Many Americans are less happy and less hopeful than ever before. The source of this anxiety may vary, but many feel like they are powerless in their economic lives, disconnected from community, and distrustful of the institutions of government, media, higher education, religion, business, and others. These same Americans are wildly dissatisfied with the stasis of American politics, stuck on seemingly immovable fights that do not always appear to be intimately connected to things that make Americans feel so bad. This broad social and political disaffection begs for a diverse set of leaders to spark a conversation about what makes a truly good life and why this life feels so inaccessible to many Americans. Our goal is to convene a series of informal conversations across the country that seek to break down the traditional zero-sum limitations of our current politics and explore new areas of work that can bring together the right and left to show a path to help more Americans lead meaningful, fulfilled lives."

Last year, Murphy authored an op-ed for the New Republic to make the case for a political realignment oriented around a set of solutions that would address America’s spiritual unspooling and enable Americans to have more economic control over their lives, more social connection, and more moral markets. This followed earlier pieces written by Murphy about the wreckage of neoliberalism, politics of loneliness, and importance of prioritizing the common good over individualism.   

Governor Cox is currently serving as the Chair of the National Governors Association, where he’s sponsored the Disagree Better initiative, showing Americans how to disagree without hating each other. The initiative features a series of videos of governors from around the country modeling the principles of healthy conflict. Governor Cox has highlighted how elected officials can be successful by showing respect to their opponents while maintaining their principles. He’s also written and spoken about the importance of institutions, the dangers of making politics our religion, and why our political identities should be less important than our other identities.