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Bridge Builder

A “bridge builder” is a politician or diplomat who actively works to create or improve relationships, foster cooperation, and promote understanding among diverse groups or parties.

These individuals are characterized by their ability to facilitate dialogue, negotiate compromises, and build consensus in order to achieve common goals.

A “bridge builder” is typically known for their diplomatic skills, ability to listen, and capacity to empathize with different perspectives.

They understand that politics is not just about winning arguments, but about finding common ground and working towards solutions that benefit all parties involved.

They are often adept at navigating complex political landscapes, understanding the needs and interests of various stakeholders, and finding ways to bring them together.

The role of a “bridge builder” is crucial in any political system, but particularly in democracies where diverse views and interests must be reconciled to form effective policies.

They play a key role in facilitating bipartisan cooperation, mediating conflicts, and ensuring that diverse voices are heard and considered in the decision-making process.

They can help to foster a more inclusive and collaborative political environment, which can lead to more sustainable and widely accepted policies.

More on “Bridge Builder”

A description pinned on politicians—usually grownups—who are able to work with the opposing party.

Discussing the balance that Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell had to strike between seeking reelection as a true conservative and as someone who could cut a deal to end the October 2013 government shutdown, the Wall Street Journal’s David Wessel noted that the Kentucky Republican faced a primary challenger from the right.

“It seems to have influenced his role in this in a way that makes it harder for him to be the bridge builder and the lead consensus person,” he said on radio’s Diane Rehm Show. (As it later happened, McConnell did set aside his primary concerns and did the work of bridge building to help end the shutdown.)

Presidential candidates invariably seek to claim the mantle. George W. Bush was the ultimate self-described bridge builder on the campaign trail in 1999–2000.

The then Texas governor nabbed the Republican presidential nomination claiming to be a “uniter, not a divider”—the political rhetorical equivalent of hapless comic Rodney Dangerfield in the 1980s romp Back to School declaring himself a “lover, not a fighter.”

Bush pointed to his bipartisan record in the Texas state capitol, during the Democrats’ waning years of control. Once in Washington, though, Bush—at least according to Democratic critics—pushed a highly partisan, tax-cutting agenda that marginalized the other side rather than including them in negotiations.

Bush’s successor Barack Obama also claimed to be a bridge builder. But once he arrived in the White House, congressional Republicans complained about a lack of bipartisan outreach.

Obama and fellow Democrats argued that too many Republicans had no interest in building any bridges—and in reality wanted to blow them up. But the fact remains that the president has had little luck in forging bipartisan coalitions.

From Dog Whistles, Walk-Backs, and Washington Handshakes © 2014 Chuck McCutcheon and David Mark.

Use of “Bridge Builder” in a sentence

  • Despite the polarized political climate, the senator has earned a reputation as a bridge builder, consistently reaching across the aisle to foster bipartisan cooperation on key issues.
  • As a diplomat, her role as a bridge builder was crucial in facilitating dialogue between the two nations and working towards a peaceful resolution.
  • In the midst of heated debates and diverse viewpoints, the city’s mayor emerged as a bridge builder, skillfully negotiating compromises and fostering a spirit of unity and cooperation.