A New Year’s resolution to disagree better

Written by The Likely Voter

January 11, 2024

In recent years, Americans’ view of political discourse has deteriorated. According to a recent Pew Research survey, nearly 80% of Americans describe the state of political discussion in negative terms. 

In 2024, Utahns have an opportunity to embrace discussion differently, political or otherwise. 

Over Thanksgiving, Sutherland Institute’s president and CEO, Rick Larsen, highlighted that 78% of Americans feel a sense of gratitude in their daily lives. You can view his message by watching the video below.

According to another Pew Research study, the disdain is not with our neighbor, but rather with the attention that political negativity receives in the media and in Congress. 

78% of Americans feel that policy and important issues are talked about too infrequently, while 57% feel that partisan disagreements are highlighted too much. 

Efforts are already being made to improve the state of political discourse, as exemplified by Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox’s “Disagree Better” initiative through the National Governors Association. The initiative aims to be more deliberate in making positive engagements with members of the opposing political party on key issues, whether it be through opinion writing, community events or service projects. 

Sutherland Institute is making strides to improve conversation as well, with efforts to provide more thoughtful and careful talking points and solutions to problems via its blog, Insights & Takeaways, and its podcast, Defending Ideas. 

Insights & Takeaways provides fair and honest input from Sutherland’s seasoned policy professionals on key topics that impact Utahns on a daily basis. 

“The state of Utah is leading on so many issues, whether it be education choice, our impressive economy, or our focus on the family as an institution that impacts all areas of life,” said Christine Cooke Fairbanks, Sutherland’s education policy fellow. “Utah is also a leader in compromise and disagreeing while trying to find common ground. Leading on this last point is particularly important and something we should be eager to continue.” 

Defending Ideas aims to remove extreme partisan rancor from important issues and instead dig deeper into the real arguments behind tough topics, equipping listeners to become more productive defenders of key principles. Nic Dunn, Sutherland’s VP of strategy and communications and host of Defending Ideas, said he believes that “showing Utahns how to effectively approach a sensitive topic with grace and love toward those we view as wrong on that topic, without feeling like we need to compromise our own beliefs, is a key steppingstone to improving our political landscape as a whole.” 

As 2024 begins, now is the perfect time for a fresh start in approaching conversation with neighbors and those on the other side of the aisle. The data shows that people are closer than they may realize. It’s important to use that to put our best foot forward. 

You can follow our Insights & Takeaways blog here and watch, listen and subscribe to Defending Ideas here.

Takeaways: the most important things voters need to know. For civically engaged citizens.  

  • Most Americans describe the state of political discussion in negative terms.
  • Frustration is not with our neighbors, but with the negative attention in media and Congress.
  • Efforts like the “Disagree Better” initiative and Sutherland’s podcast and blog are making strides to improve the discussion.

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