Loading...
I see our "Doctor-In-the-House Murphy doesn't mind taking away individual rights to solve the opiod crisis that is the...

Political opposites try listening to each other

Rob Christensen

Rob Christensen

Loading…

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

For the past year, some of North Carolina's leading Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, left-wingers and right-wingers, tried something different.

They talked to each other. And I don't mean they trolled each other on the internet, calling each other pinkos or knuckle-draggers.

Under the auspices of Duke University, 30 leaders met five times for all-day sessions featuring civil conversations about how to help more North Carolinians earn enough to support their families.

Those who were listed as participants included Raleigh businessman Art Pope, a financial backer of Republican candidates; state GOP Chairman Robin Hayes; former GOP gubernatorial candidate Chuck Neely; the AFL-CIO's MaryBe McMillan; former Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter, a Democrat, and former Democratic state Rep. Rick Glazier, who leads the N.C. Justice Center.

And while they didn't convince each other to change their political philosophies, participants said it was a useful exercise in better understanding the other person's point of view.

"We felt it was really important for the future of the state for people who honestly disagree with each other, have a place where we could listen to each other's opinions … and perhaps form some relationships," said former state Sen. Leslie Winner.

The North Carolina Leadership Forum was the idea of two people — Winner, the former head of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation in Winston-Salem, and John Hood, the president of the John William Pope Foundation in Raleigh. It was prompted by a column Hood writes as president of the John Locke Foundation.

Winner is a liberal and Hood is a conservative. They both agreed that there was not enough conversation among people with different political views and that they should make some effort to cross the partisan divide.

Duke's Center for Political Leadership, Innovation and Service, which is looking at ways to try to fix the nation's politics, agreed to host the effort.

There was no playbook on how to do this, Winner said. The sessions were private and off the record — they did not involve any governmental body — so that people could speak candidly.

Hood said there were several traps they tried to avoid: not to pay too much attention to the past, both good and bad, and to avoid coming up with any sort of 10-point plan to solve a particular problem.

The aim, Hood said, "was to have a civil dialogue about persistent and even unbridgeable differences, as opposed to a dialogue that leads to consensus, which is easier."

Fritz Mayer, who headed the Duke project, called it a "fascinating exercise" and said Duke had funding to bring in another group of North Carolina leaders in the fall.

Hood said this project alone can't dramatically improve things in the state. But he said participants hoped that similar projects will be replicated in communities across the state.

"It is contrary to human nature to attack people ... if you know people personally," Hood said. "It is not that you are going to agree on everything. It is just that you are not going to make all of your disagreements personal."

Hood recalled the old "Firing Line" TV program hosted by conservative William Buckley, where he engaged politely with liberals such as John Kenneth Galbraith.

"It really was the case in the not too distant past where people could disagree very strongly with each other on important issues and not call each other names," Hood said. "I think we had some of that in our first session. We argued with each other, instead of bickering with one another."

Winner said the group came away seeing the issue in perhaps less black and white and a little more gray.

"I don't think we changed minds," Winner said. "I still think we should raise the minimum wage and John doesn't."

Mayer said the group may have come out of the experience with a little more intellectual humility — perhaps more open to viewing different evidence.

"North Carolina is a microcosm of the challenge that we face as a nation," Mayer said.

Rob Christensen has covered politics for The News & Observer of Raleigh for nearly four decades, and is also the author of The Paradox of Tar Heel Politics. Write to him at rchristensen@newsobserver.com.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

June 24, 2018

I've never much liked political parties. I've always believed that we should put country before party. Too many politicians practice the reverse, with terrible consequences for the American people.

But although I don't believe in partisanship, I very much believe in the importance of politics and…

Michael Bloomberg

June 24, 2018

After years of smearing good people with false charges of bigotry, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has finally been held to account. A former Islamic radical named Maajid Nawaz sued the center for including him in its bogus "Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists," and this week the SPLC…

MarcThiessen

June 23, 2018

Call it the "electric fence presidency."

President Donald Trump — always confident, always exuberant, always selling — crashes forward with the policies and people he embraces until he hits a shocking obstacle and falls back, at first stunned and disbelieving, but resolving…

HughHewitt

June 23, 2018

“Whoever thought I was going to live so long,” my 96 year old mother asked? She isn’t alone. About 10,000 of us turn 65 every day. In 1990, North Carolina’s median age – meaning one half are younger and one half older — was 33. By 2016 that number had escalated…

Tom Campbell.jpg

June 22, 2018

The sweeping outrage over President Trump's policy of separating immigrant children from their parents is a welcome sign of our nation's moral and civic health. Ripping apart the family bond was too much even for some of Trump's most fervent apologists to take.

In the end, Trump had to back off, a…

020917Dionne

June 21, 2018

Add one to the growing list of disappointments. The Supreme Court had the opportunity Monday to take a massive step toward more reasonable elections — and punted. The decisions postpone a national reckoning with the escalating pace of partisan warfare.

But just because the court kicked the…

Justin Leavitt

June 21, 2018

"President Trump has diligently and successfully gone about fulfilling his promises to the pro-life voters who worked so hard to elect him, and it has been a privilege to stand with him to defend the innocent unborn," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, at the…

kathrynlopez

June 20, 2018

For several decades, a few black scholars have been suggesting that the vision held by many black Americans is entirely wrong. Shelby Steele, a scholar at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, said: "Instead of admitting that racism has declined, we (blacks) argue all the harder that it is…

walter williams

June 20, 2018

President Donald Trump and his top aides have given America two main stories about the separation of families at our southern border: It's an unfortunate byproduct of laws and court decisions that tie the administration's hand, and it's a necessary deterrent to illegal immigration. These are…

PONNURU

June 19, 2018

On Sunday, a day we as a nation set aside to honor fathers and the bonds of family, I was among the millions of Americans who watched images of children who have been torn from their parents.

In the six weeks between April 19 and May 31, the Department of Homeland Security has sent nearly 2,000…

Laura Bush
287 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 29
        Next Page»   Last Page»