We are two residents of Talbot County, a Republican and a Democrat, in search of other reds and blues who want to talk with folks of different political opinions.
While our views differ on some issues, the two of us share a concern about the current extreme polarization in our country and have both signed on as volunteers with Better Angels. Better Angels is a national organization formed in 2016 after the Presidential election by folks who felt that the divide between red and blue Americans had become so severe that we were headed for civic breakdown. In response, they have developed a series of facilitated workshops organized by citizens in their own communities including their signature Red-Blue session which we’re bringing to Easton this spring.
Neither of us is out to change anyone’s minds. We had the opportunity to observe a recent Red-Blue Workshop in D.C. After hours of discussion, those who came as conservative, libertarian, Republican citizens left the same. Likewise with the liberal, progressive, Democratic participants. What took place instead was that people listened to one another without trying to correct, coerce or argue the virtue of their views.
To date, well over 300 such workshops have taken place around the U.S. Participant feedback shows they’re helping people on both sides decrease stereotyped thinking and develop more trust in our hope for the common good. From Fox News to CNN along with other national and local media outlets, reports on the Red-Blue workshop have been supportive, often with a common theme: there’s such a need for this.
In Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address in 1861, with the nation on the brink of civil war, he urged that Americans hold onto their common bonds and appealed to the ‘better angels of our nature.’ His words resonate now more than ever when talking about politics seems almost taboo. Wouldn’t it be nice to discover we’re not really as different as we’ve been told we are?
If you are interested in being part of this civic experiment, visit the Better Angels website or contact us. The workshop format requires an equal number of red and blue participants. Community members can also take part as observers. We hope our April 6, 2019 event in Easton will be the first of many such conversations on the Eastern Shore.
Pat Ingram, Oxford
Nancy Andrew, Easton