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'Disagree Better': Utah governor leads initiative to ease hyper-partisanship

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Alex Gonzalez

(Utah News Connection) Utah Governor Spencer Cox wants people to learn to disagree. 

As the elected chair of the National Governors Association, he is leading a campaign called "Disagree Better" - an initiative "designed to help Americans bridge the partisan divide," and adopt more positive approaches to politics and social discourse. 

Last week, a day after the first Republican presidential debate, Cox took to X - the platform formerly known as Twitter - and shared a video where he said he has found "listening to understand as opposed to listening to debate is a powerful tool."

"Healthy disagreement is about staying true to who we are, to the principles that we believe in," said Cox, "but also not attacking the person who disagrees with us."

Cox acknowledges that the United States is deeply divided and a majority of Americans are tired of the division and hyper-partisanship. 

According to the Pew Research Center, partisanship continues to be the dividing line in the American public's political attitudes - far surpassing other markers such as age, race and ethnicity.

Cox said the nation was created with 50 states, of which he calls "laboratories of democracy." He said each state is uniquely positioned to work together and learn from one another. 

The Disagree Better initiative has a list of recommended strategies and tools for state and local leaders to implement in an effort to ease tensions.

"Because what happens is when we're curious, when we're really trying to understand where the other person is coming from," said Cox, "they're much more likely to give us that same opportunity and to listen to us."

Cox said it's an important message with the 2024 presidential primaries in full effect. 

A recent poll found that more Americans viewed neither President Joe Biden, the likely Democratic nominee, nor former President Donald Trump, the clear front-runner for the Republican Party, in a favorable light than those who saw either of them favorably.