Guest Columnist Dave Roitman: Repairing the Fabric of American Democracy

Posted: 11/17/2021 18:15:58 PM What do you think of the other political side? Are you afraid they want to ruin the country? Do you...



Posted: 11/17/2021 18:15:58 PM

What do you think of the other political side? Are you afraid they want to ruin the country? Do you sometimes blame them or do you think they are the enemy? Ask yourself “how could they believe the way they do?” If so, you are not alone. This kind of partisanship is very common today.

In a 2019 article titled “Lethal Mass Partisanship,” Nathan Kalmoe and Lilliana Mason reported that more than 42% of Republicans and Democrats viewed opposition as “real evil”. How do you think this affects our country? According to Mason, “If citizens use parties as a social dividing line, parties can prevent citizens from accepting the compromise and cooperation that defines democracy. (From “Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity, by Lilliana Mason”, 2018).

I believe our political polarization is at a point where yes, it threatens our democracy. That’s why I joined Braver Angels, one of 350 organizations working to bridge our political divide. Braver Angels stands out because its workshops and debates quickly get people talking to each other to understand each other, not to convince or convert. This is important because many people these days are used to being lectured or scorned and are reluctant to speak to the other side.

On October 23 and 30, 21 people from our region attended a Braver Angels “red / blue workshop”. Ten were active participants (five “Red” and five “Blue”) while the rest observed. First, participants identified common stereotypes on their side and why they were not correct. After sharing this with the other party, they talked about what they had just learned about themselves and what they see in common. Then they merged into mixed groups, asking questions to understand the views of others. Then they worked together “across the divide” to find common ground and generate ideas to work on together.

After the workshop ended on October 30, 17 people stayed to learn more about Braver Angels and talk more about what they had learned. Here are some of their comments:

“I now believe that the people on the other side care about our country, instead of what leaks in my brain from the television and social media that I consume every day.” “How did we become for who we vote for and not just ourselves as individuals? Ranking each other is just plain wrong. “From now on, when I talk to my friends, I will start to take the opposite point of view to help us open our minds. Most of the time, we wallow in our righteous indignation. What good? ”“ The people who ran this were really righteous. Our democracy needs that kind of talk. I felt like I could say what I think. If you love your country, you will, even though it’s difficult. “I was surprised how much we have in common and how wrong my stereotypes were about the people I met today.” “The media makes us bad service by breaking up. We’re all in the same boat, we just have different solutions. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Fox or MSNBC, the controversy sells ads, we’ve got to get beyond that. “I’m in a family I have grown sons who don’t like my politics and my wife and I don’t agree. What I did today strengthens my resolve to continue. And finally, “I did not realized until today that I actually didn’t know anyone on the other side well enough to talk to. I want to change that . “

The good news is, you can change that. These workshops were sponsored by two local Braver Angels groups, one based in Greenfield, the other in Northampton.

The Greenfield Group is well established and holds monthly meetings with topics proposed by its members covering the hot issues of today. For more information contact Bill Richardson at bill.richardson2323@gmail.com.

The Northampton-based group is new, and if you join in you can shape what they do. For more information, visit their website at https://www.braverangelspioneervalley.org/ and fill out the contact form, or email Dave Roitman at droitman@braveranges.org.

The organization is called the Braver Angels for a reason – it takes courage to talk to people on “the other side”. But if you care about our democracy, maybe, just maybe, you will take this step.

Dave Roitman, a resident of Florence, is the co-chair of Pioneer Valley Braver Angels.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Guest Columnist Dave Roitman: Repairing the Fabric of American Democracy
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