National Governors Association Launches “Disagree Better” Initiative
The initiative will look at the problems of polarization, elevate the solutions that groups around the country are already implementing, and feature governors modeling what disagreeing better looks like.
Launched in July, the National Governors Association’s new “Disagree Better” initiative seeks to address the problem of polarization in American society by encouraging constructive dialogue and healthy conflict resolution.
The NGA initiative is based on the understanding that a majority of Americans, often referred to as the “exhausted majority,” desire a more positive and optimistic approach to dealing with differences. It recognizes that reducing polarization is essential, and there is clear scientific evidence supporting interventions that can achieve this goal.
Governors are seen as crucial actors in this endeavor because they can model what healthy conflict looks like. The Disagree Better initiative aims to highlight existing solutions that various groups around the country are already implementing. It also involves featuring governors who exemplify productive disagreement. The initiative employs various tactics, such as public debates, service projects, public service announcements, and more, to showcase a positive way of working through problems.
Additionally, the initiative intends to tackle a real-world policy challenge: the longstanding stalemate over immigration. By collaborating with the business community and other stakeholders, the hope is to find enough consensus among governors to identify common principles around immigration policy.
To achieve its goals, the Disagree Better initiative includes a series of public-facing efforts, supported by NGA. These efforts are customizable for each state and governor and include strategies like hosting service projects, recording ads with officials from different parties, writing joint op-eds on areas of common ground, and hosting debates at colleges or universities that model healthy conflict for future generations.
Over the next year, NGA plans to hold four gatherings across the country to expose governors to existing efforts and connect them with leading organizations to accelerate such work in their respective states. The ultimate goal is for governors to set an example of how to disagree better, creating a template for other public officials at every level to follow.