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What we do is get regular people together to talk about real issues with curious minds and open hearts. How we do it is by teaching and modeling the skills that allow us to...

We are Crossing Party Lines.

What we do is get regular people together to talk about real issues with curious minds and open hearts.

How we do it is by teaching and modeling the skills that allow us to:

  • Listen politics rather than argue.
  • Talk from experience rather than a desire to win.
  • Transform conflict into collaboration.
  • Celebrate the progress members make towards mastering these skills and building community around respect and appreciation for the diversity of thought that is and always has been the foundation of our country.

Why we do it is because we love our country and truly believe that the more people come together to talk, face-to-face, about the issues we care about, the stronger our country will be. Let me explain:

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” –Albert Einstein

Crossing Party Lines exists because Lisa and Kareem decided to try Einstein’s advice and think about talking politics from a different angle. They set aside all the rhetoric that attempts to explain our current situation (fake news, failings in our educational system, greed, socialist agendas, etc.) and considered another possibility: that differing views make our country strong.

Over the past three years, Lisa and Kareem have facilitated more than 250 meetings of Americans with a wide range of social, fiscal, and political perspectives. This experience has convinced them that we need many perspectives in order to understand the complex issues we have faced in the past, face today, and will face in the future.

For some, the idea that our current mix of political perspectives is a good thing takes a lot of getting used to. Some people may even respond to this idea with outrage, distrust, or condescension. If you’re one of those people (or even if you are not) we invite you to check out this cartoon from theoatmeal.com, which does a much better job explaining these types of predictable reactions reaction than we ever could:


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    The Two Types of Depolarization

    Depolarization — the work of reducing toxic polarization — is best understood in terms of the two types of polarization that shape our interactions and perceptions in today’s politically charged climate:

    1. Affective Polarization

    Affective polarization revolves around emotions and feelings. It refers to the emotional divide between individuals or groups with differing political views. It’s about how people feel about others who hold opposing ideologies.

    • Us vs. Them: In affective polarization, people tend to see those on the other side of the political spectrum as part of an “us vs. them” mentality. Emotions like anger, fear, and distrust often come into play.
    • Emotional Reactions: When encountering someone with opposing views, affectively polarized individuals may experience heightened emotions. They might feel threatened, defensive, or even hostile.
    • Echo Chambers: Social media and personalized news feeds can exacerbate affective polarization by reinforcing existing beliefs and isolating individuals from diverse perspectives.

    2. Cognitive Polarization

    Cognitive polarization focuses on thought processes and cognitive biases. It pertains to how people think about the views of others.

    • Discounting Opposing Views: Cognitive polarization leads to a tendency to discount opposing viewpoints without critically evaluating them. People may jump to conclusions, assuming that differing opinions lack validity or logical soundness.
    • Us vs. Them (Again): Just as in affective polarization, cognitive polarization reinforces the “us vs. them” mindset. It hinders open-mindedness and intellectual curiosity.
    • Intellectual Echo Chambers: Cognitive polarization occurs when people surround themselves with like-minded sources, reinforcing their preconceptions and avoiding exposure to alternative perspectives.

    The Interplay Between Affective and Cognitive Polarization

    Affective and cognitive polarization often feed into each other. Emotional reactions (affective) influence how we process information (cognitive), and vice versa.

    Breaking the Cycle: CPL recognizes that depolarization  requires us to address both affective and cognitive aspects. Encouraging empathy and  active listening is not enough.  We must also teach critical thinking and intellectual humility if we are to truly bridge the gap.

    About Bridging

    Bridging refers to the intentional effort to reduce toxic polarization by fostering understanding, empathy, and communication between individuals or groups with differing political views. It aims to build connections and discover our shared humanity, ultimately bridging the gaps that divides people along ideological lines.