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How we can bridge the political divide

For the last several years, the Braver Angels organization has brought together those who are voting red and those voting blue – looking for common ground.

MINNEAPOLIS — As we finally near the end of this contentious presidential campaign, experts say it’s possible for us to bridge the divide within our communities. 

And it starts by doing some simple self-examination. 

“We can start by ‘depolarizing’ ourselves inside. And that means, we stop stereotyping, dismissing and adding ridicule for the people in our lives who have voted what we think is an unfortunate way,” said Dr. William Doherty, Professor of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota and Co-founder of Braver Angels. 

For the last several years, the Braver Angels organization has brought together those who are voting red and those voting blue – looking for common ground. Doherty says that’s especially critical this year, when so many have allowed their “tribal instincts” to taint how they see others. 

“A key thing is we’re not voting against our family members, our neighbors our coworkers. We’re voting against a presidential candidate. We’re voting for one. And, of course, all of our tribal instincts are up now about which side is better and the threat to the nation of the other side. But when we deal with one another, we have to see our common humanity, our common sense that we all want what’s good for this country, even though we differ on how we get there,” Doherty said. 

Doherty also recommends taking a deep breath, getting a good night’s sleep and accepting that the next couple days may be difficult. And when we get final results, he also encourages both sides – win or lose – to remain calm and considerate. 

“Do not gloat. Do not say, ‘Well I’ve been telling you all along.’ Do not come across in a way that suggests that they hide themselves in shame. It doesn’t do any good. And if your side lost, do not come across vengeful or hostile,” he said, adding, “Be gracious in victory and gracious in defeat is what I’m saying.” 

As for the chances of success in actually bridging that divide? Doherty believes our community can do it. 

“This is not the first rodeo for our country in terms of bitter division. I think we have to believe in the basic integrity of our people and of our constitution. We have to make an act of faith that we can get through this, and I believe we will,” he said. 

To learn more about the Braver Angels organization, just go to: www.braverangels.org 

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