General posts

For Women, and for Choice

That both parties continue to ask these questions—of where personhood begins and where autonomy ends—without pausing to adequately respond to the other side, is why the abortion debate has come to a standstill in the United States.

For Women, and for Life

It is important to distinguish between pushing an agenda for greater women’s rights, and pushing an agenda for a woman’s right that affects the life of another being.

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 …

Ten Better Angels Skills Read More »

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 …

Talking Across the Political Divide Read More »

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 …

What is a Better Angels Debate? Read More »

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 …

The Superbowl of Politics Read More »

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 …

Better Angels Skills for Thanksgiving Conversations Read More »

‘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, …

‘Better Angels’ hold workshop Read More »

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.

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 …

Why is it that US polarization is actually a worldwide phenomenon? Read More »

“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 …

“We are all Americans” Read More »

Everyone Knows They’re Being Judged with David Lapp

Better Angels’ lead organizer David Lapp talks about depolarization in action as seen through his experiences with the organization he is with, Better Angels, which facilitates candid conversations between voters from the left and the right. by Dan Koch Listen to Full Podcast Here

It’s Time for Rochester to Lead from the Bottom Up

Rochester Business Journal // David Blankenhorn of the Institute for American Values asserts, “We Americans didn’t necessarily think our way into political polarization, but we’ll likely have to think our way out.” by John Calia When I tell people I moved to Rochester from Florida, the responses range from a quizzical stare to a blunt …

It’s Time for Rochester to Lead from the Bottom Up Read More »

Partisan Deadlock and the Value of Listening

The American Interest Podcast by Richard Aldous David Blankenhorn discusses his recent efforts to speak — and more importantly listen to — Trump supporters. He examines their motivations, speaks about their grievances, and looks at what Trump’s ascendancy means for the country. Listen to the Full Podcast here

He dramatically changed his views on gay marriage.

The Washington Post// Here’s how he says the nation can come together by Colby Itkowitz Blankenhorn, an advocate for the institution of marriage, testified in 2010 against legalizing same-sex marriage. He believed then that gay people were using marriage as a political football and were not serious about the commitment that comes with it. But …

He dramatically changed his views on gay marriage. Read More »

The War on Partisanship How Fighting Polarization Became its Own Cause

The Atlantic// by Rebecca Nelson ON A RECENT Sunday evening in Manchester, New Hampshire, 170 people convened for dinner at the Currier Museum of Art. Among the attendees were Washington semi-celebrities (Joe Lieberman, Jon Huntsman, GOP strategist Mark McKinnon) as well as an odd assortment of D-list Hollywood types (Wayne Knight, who played Newman on …

The War on Partisanship How Fighting Polarization Became its Own Cause Read More »