‘Better Angels’—pushing back on political polarization

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By Caryn Sullivan, Twin Cities Pioneer Press

Bill Doherty gets emotional when he recites a favorite quote from President Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory … will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

These aren’t just words for Doherty; they are the inspiration for Better Angels, a citizens’ movement with which he became involved shortly after the 2016 election.

A professor in the department of family social science at the University of Minnesota, Doherty is an expert on working with people who do not see eye-to-eye.

As a co-founder of a national movement to reduce political polarization, Doherty discovered the same skills he applies as a marriage counselor are useful to facilitate discussion among friends, family, and strangers on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

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