General posts

There Are Evils Worse Than Racism

Growing up in the United States of America—a nation defined in many minds by its fraught racial history—and observing public life at a time when racial sensitivities are constantly prodded and enflamed, it is easy to think that there is no greater sin in the world than racism.

Ten Better Angels Skills

Five Basic Skills Listen to understand rather than to prepare your rebuttal. If you couldn’t accurately summarize what the other person just said, you haven’t listened. Be curious (“Why you see it this way?”) rather than argumentative (“How could you possibly see it this way?”) Make sure you understand the other’s view before you disagree …

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Talking Across the Political Divide

Goals for these Conversations You learn about the perspectives, feelings, and experiences of someone you care about who differs from you politically. You have a sense of satisfaction about how you conveyed your own perspective, feelings, and experiences. You discover some common ground if it’s there. Expectations to Abandon That you can persuade the other …

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What is a Better Angels Debate?

You probably haven’t experienced anything like a Better Angels Debate. It’s not a political debate, where competing candidates attempt to win votes. Nor is it a high school or college debate, where people advocate positions in which they may not believe for the sole purpose of vanquishing their foes. A Better Angels Debate is a …

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Skills for Communicating Across the Political Divide

Better Angels co-founder Bill Doherty, in a talk to students and faculty at the University of Minnesota in Rochester, teaches and demonstrates how to talk with people who differ from you politically and how to depolarize conversations so that they can be more productive and less damaging to relationships.

The Superbowl of Politics

The stadium is packed amid the early November chill for the Super Bowl of the New National Football League. Despite initial criticism, the new format seems to have revitalized the game and brought a new generation of fans clamoring for one of the precious seats. The players in their throwback uniforms, recalling the starred reds …

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Better Angels Skills for Thanksgiving Conversations

How to Stop a Thanksgiving Dinner Debacle Group conversations are like water: they run downhill—at the speed of the most argumentative or agitated family member. Here are ways to head them off. 1. Propose a no-politics ground rule up front “I’d like to propose that we not talk politics during our Thanksgiving dinner. Is that …

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‘Better Angels’ hold workshop

by Elisabeth Robbins, Better Angels Moderator Daily Democrat Can seven progressives and six conservatives get together for a day of talking about their political beliefs without anger and explosiveness? When participants follow the structure of a Better Angels Red/Blue Workshop, the answer is yes. Even more, it can be a positive experience for all involved, …

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Slowly Bridging Our Partisan Divide

RealClearPolitics // It’s a rainy, muggy day in Leesburg, Va. Although the town is 30 or so miles from the interminable partisan wrangling in Washington, D.C., it’s infected with some of the same bitter polarization—as is so much of the country.

How We Are Divided

American politics has grown increasingly polarized over the past 20 years, degenerating after the 2016 election and in the Trump Presidency into all-out partisan warfare. Observing from the sidelines, a significant portion of the voting public has begun to sense a real danger in this fracturing of partisan politics, and are searching for solutions. With …

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Why is it that US polarization is actually a worldwide phenomenon?

A great deal of prime-time TV shows dominating popular culture today are, in fact, international television formats. Competitive shows like The Four, Got Talent, Idol, American Ninja, Master Chef (the list goes on and on), are either imported to or exported from the US. Each show’s rules, visuals, pacing and even sets are being reproduced …

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“We are all Americans”

A statement by DC Better Angels (McLean, VA Nov. 4, 2017 Red/Blue Workshop Attendees) At the end of our Better Angels workshop, with an equal number of blues (Democrats) and reds (Republicans), one of the blues suggested meeting again in the near future for drinks. Without missing a beat, one of the reds quipped, “Politics …

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