Well, I think that gets to a big question I have about this effort, which is when you talk about disagreeing better, is it alighting the fact that, for many people, the political disagreements in the society over LGBTQ rights, over racial equity, over the climate are literal matters of life and death and may not be a place where a polite disagreement feels possible?
Cox: We’re not just talking about a polite disagreement, right? We’re talking about profound disagreement. We’re talking about staying true to the things that you believe in. But, I get that question all of the time, and I love to push back on it because I always say, “How’s your way working? Have you ever changed anybody’s mind by attacking them, telling them they’re racist or homophobic or whatever?”
It doesn’t, it doesn’t change anybody’s hearts and minds. And again, on this very issue, I give credit to Troy Williams who’s the leader of Equality Utah. We disagree on lots of things, but this guy actually bought a booth at the Republican State Convention. He showed up in a place where he was not expected to show up. He was told he should not do that. He was told that by Republicans and by Democrats. He was told by his own allies that this was the worst thing possible. And he showed up and he engaged with people and it was transformational. It was incredible to watch people who screamed at him, hated him, who gave him a hug, and apologized when they were done discussing. Whenever I hear this, I say, “Yeah, keep doing it your way and you will get absolutely nowhere. But if you want to get somewhere, you have to be willing to engage on these topics.”
Gov. Pollis, what are your thoughts on that topic?
Polis: No, look, I absolutely agree. I mean, yelling at one another doesn’t work. Disengaging from the process doesn’t work. What it takes is doubling down on the commitment to have the thoughtful discussions and ask questions. Maybe there’s room that you can find that didn’t exist before. I understand, of course, that many people fear what the other side is trying to do to them. Start with asking the questions: “Are you actually trying to do this to me? Is that what I’m hearing in my own echo chamber? Is that what you’re trying to do?”
If so, “Is it all of you? Is it some of you? Why are you trying to do this?” I mean, ask these questions and have those discussions because the alternative is scary for the destruction of civil society and the cohesion of our country.