The idea of civility in politics has become almost a quaint idea in some circles. A nonpartisan group called Better Angels is advancing the notion that we can talk about our differences - respectfully. They'll be getting an equal number of Republicans and Democrats together tonight.
The idea originally stems from Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address in 1861, with the nation on the brink of Civil War, he appealed to the “better angels of our nature.”
"In our dangerously divided nation, we all need to be touched by something “better” within us and within the country we share," according to their website.
WUSF's Steve Newborn talks with one of their moderators, Jon Wolfe. He says this nationwide program was started to let others hear your viewpoint, without tempers flaring.
"There is a basic human need that we all have, which is to be acknowledged, to be validated and respected," Wolfe said. "The U.S. Constitution was based on compromise. We are red and blue together and every shade in between. So our goal is to help people realize the power is in your hands to promote civility and to strengthen our democracy, rather than contribute to an attitude of, oh, because you're this color, I can't talk to you, or all people of this color politically think and feel this way.
"Which is not true, because there are lots of variations that come out in our workshops. Where people might realize that this person might be fiscally conservative, yet socially progressive - or vice versa," he said. "If we can hate people simply because of the way they voted, it's kind of like hating somebody simply because of their religion or the color of their skin."
Their Red/Blue Workshops bring together five to seven Republican or conservative-leaning citizens and five to seven Democratic or liberal-leaning citizens for a day of structured conversations. According to their web site, here’s what participants or spectators can expect to get out of a workshop:
- Better understand the experiences and beliefs of those on the other side of the political divide;
- Find areas of commonality in addition to differences;
- Learn something that might be helpful to you and to others in your community and the nation.
Anyone interested in attending can contact Diego Villa at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (813) 453-6032.