“Americans need to disagree better,” stated Cox in a post on the governor’s website. “And by that we don’t mean that we need to be nicer to each other, although that’s helpful. We need to learn to disagree in a way that allows us to find solutions and solve problems instead of endlessly bickering.”
Cox said his intention is for state governors to “model how to disagree better,” with hopes that by setting an example, the movement could spread to public officials on all levels of government.
“The ‘exhausted majority’ of Americans want this, and the science is clear about interventions that reduce polarization,” stated Cox. “As doers and builders, governors are in a unique position to model what healthy conflict looks like.”
Cox said he wants to use the subject of immigration as a place to start real-world work. He said he hopes that by collaborating with the business community and other stakeholders, a consensus could be reached among governors to identify common ground around immigration policy.
Among the strategies that Cox is introducing as part of Disagree Better are:
- Hosting a service project within your communities, potentially with state legislatures and their spouses from both sides of the aisle.
- Recording an ad with a neighboring governor from a different party, a legislator from the opposing party, or a campaign opponent. NGA Chair Utah Gov. Cox, a Republican, and NGA Vice Chair Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, explain more in the video above.
- Recording a brief civic education ad, explaining that our nation’s founding and the Constitution were designed for people from different backgrounds and with different views.
- Writing an op-ed with someone from the other party on a topic of common ground.
- Hosting a debate at a college or university that models healthy conflict to future generations, including in partnership with organizations like Braver Angels and Bridge USA.
Cox is planning four NGA events across the nation in an attempt to advance the idea of “disagreeing better.” Cox said Utah First Lady Abby Cox will also be contributing via her related “Show Up” initiative, promoting the power of service to one’s community.
“We know that conflict resolution takes work and involves difficult conversations,” stated the governor. “It’s much easier to sow division than to persuade or find solutions. But we also know that no one ever changed someone’s mind by attacking them. Through healthy conflict, we’re confident that we can find common ground and improve our families, our communities and our nation. Together, we can disagree better.”