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How these 3 governors say we can overcome political polarization

The past month saw a political climate of extreme division in Washington, D.C., over the partial government shutdown. But some leaders at the state and local levels are striving for improved bipartisanship and compromise. On Monday, Judy Woodruff sat down with three governors trying to work across party lines: Larry Hogan, R-Md., Chris Sununu, R-N.H. and Tom Wolf, D-Pa.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    As Washington, D.C., feels more divided now than ever before, some leaders at the state level are aiming for something often unheard of in today's politics, common ground.

    Last night, I sat down with governors from three states who have had to work with legislatures dominated by the opposite party.

    All three were critical of Washington's handling of the federal government shutdown.

    Maryland Governor Larry Hogan told me he would have done everything differently.

    But the governors also struck a hopeful note about the state of American politics.

    Here's a little of that.

    As you look at this audience, who are really, really frustrated, for all the reasons we have been talking, what — can you give them hope? Can you give them a few sentences to believe that the system is still worth believing in, that we haven't just lost our way in this country?

  • Gov. Larry Hogan, R-Md.:

    You know, I know people are very frustrated. I'm frustrated, not just with Washington, but the divisive, angry politics.

    And I know a lot of people are ready to give up, and they say that the system is broken and that we can't do anything about it.

    I just happen to believe that, in spite of how divided we are, that there really is more that unites us as Americans than that which divides us. And I think a majority of people would like us to get back towards, like I said, that middle ground, where we can all stand together. And we can't keep going like this.

  • Gov. Tom Wolf, D-Pa.:

    I would suggest that you show some respect to the people that you're debating with.

    Recognize that you have certain deeply held beliefs and principles, but you might be able to learn something from them. And I think that respect is what we need to see a little more of. This — democracy is not about yelling at each other. It's not about making pronouncements. It's about engaging. And I think, if you do that honestly, you will end up in a good place.

  • Gov. Chris Sununu, R-N.H.:

    Have some empathy. Know what it means, and practice it. Know what respect is, and practice it.

    Practicing these things that we know what the definitions of are the key to actually really coming together and having viable discussions. And that should give people hope.

    The formula is there. We don't need to rebuild our system. We don't need to blow up the electoral system. We don't need to change the rules just because we're not happy. The system really, really works. The founding fathers were absolutely brilliant and got it right. They really did.

    Just because we're in a polarizing point right now doesn't mean we should give up on the system. Be part of that solution.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Our conversation at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore also touched on the 20 presidential contests and speculation over Governor Hogan's own ambitions.

  • Gov. Larry Hogan, R-Md.:

    Look, I'm really focused on Maryland. I just was sworn in last week for my second term. And that's where my focus is for right now.

    And I'm flattered that people are talking about that as a possibility, but it's not something I'm focused on.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But you're not ruling it out?

  • Gov. Larry Hogan, R-Md.:

    Who knows what is going to happen two years from now? You never know.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You never know.

    And that was a conversation that was inspired by the SNF Agora Institute.

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