America faces some significant challenges. On issues like health care, climate change, online privacy and economic disruption, it may seem like we have more questions than we have answers.

Members of the New Democrat Coalition feel differently.


It’s true that politicians too often respond to these challenges with fearful and divisive rhetoric. NewDems believe if we approach problems hopefully and energetically, there is real opportunity to change the debate and make progress on the issues that matter most.

The first step is to agree that no single party or ideology has a monopoly on how to address today’s toughest problems. As vice chair for policy within our Coalition, I put that concept on full display this week at “NEXT,” our second-annual policy conference.

We tackled health care, digital privacy, and climate change by putting diverse thought leaders together for a conversation on what works and what doesn’t.

One quick example: A long discussion of climate change at “NEXT” highlighted the opportunities that arise when diverse voices come together. Our panel of environmental thought leaders included voices from think tanks and environmental NGOs, as well as an evangelical conservative who believes deeply in the virtues of a cleaner world.

Participants discussed the urgency to achieve net-zero carbon emissions as soon as practicable. And while there wasn’t agreement on every solution between the participants, the building blocks for progress were there.

We also hosted a panel of experts representing both business and consumer interests. What we found was broad agreement on some of the most important aspects of digital privacy, among them: Transparency for consumer data, tough enforcement of the rules, and more control for consumers over how their data is shared and disbursed.

I have a few ideas about how we get there. Earlier this year I introduced the “Information Transparency and Personal Data Control Act.” It’s a straightforward bill with some key changes to help consumers. These include requiring companies to offer ‘plain English’ privacy policies, allowing consumers to ‘opt in’ before sharing their most sensitive data (rather than having to ‘opt-out’), and empowering states attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission to pursue bad actors.

I’m excited about this bill and its potential to empower consumers. I also know it isn’t the only idea out there. We have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to ideas across a range of issues, and that’s exactly the point: Good ideas will emerge in environments that reward good-faith efforts to make progress.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that far too often, good ideas are weaponized and demonized. Time and again, we’ve seen well-intentioned individuals cut down by political opponents who paint them as too conservative, too liberal, corporate sellouts, socialists, or whatever buzzword pops up on Twitter that day.

Solutions aren’t born on bumper stickers or in 30 second ads. They’re born of people who come to the table in good faith to get things done.

At “NEXT,” ideas were let onto the field while politics sat on the sideline. Our hope is that we’ll see the same in the 116th Congress.

Congresswoman Suzan DelBeneSuzan Kay DelBeneOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Key impeachment witness retires | Duckworth presses for information | Subpanel advances defense measure | Democrats press for end to military transgender ban 116 House Democrats push for end to transgender military ban following Supreme Court ruling The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump, GOP on defense as nationwide protests continue MORE represents the First District of Washington and serves as Vice Chair for Policy of the New Democrat Coalition. The “NEXT” Policy Conference is available in its entirety here.