Frequently Asked Questions
What is a meetup? How big is a meetup?
The meetups are hosted by moderators, bi-monthly, and are a friendly comfortable environment for political discussions. The topics are selected by CPL members through newsletter polls. The size of the meetups range from 10 to 20, depending on the topic. We also host virtual meetings for those who wish to participate via video chat.
Do you get equal numbers of liberals and conservatives?
Generally, our local meetups are a reasonably representative sample of the population where we’re meeting. Even when a meeting is skewed in favor of one or two political perspectives, we find conversation rewarding because no two people will believe all the same things for all the same reasons.
Why is your logo red and blue? Don’t you welcome people with other views?
The logo is red, white, and blue. It represents America.
How do you keep the discussions civil?
CPL is more than a series of discussions. It is a community, with community norms built around the skills and practices that have proven successful in creating civil, respectful dialogue. Often times, the established norms keep the discussions civil. To reinforce (or create for new groups) these norms, we offer training for members, display posters which communicate best practices, and require that every meeting be facilitated by a moderator trained in the CPL methods.
Will I be safe?
Yes. One significant difference between a CPL meeting and other environments in which you might find yourself inclined to talk politics is that everyone in the room wants to hear your views. We come together to learn from one another. You will not be shunned or attacked for sharing your views with the group.
Do I need to come prepared with all the facts?
Also, do I need to know a lot about the topic?
No. While the facts of the issues do matter, our discussions focus on why you have the facts you have and what you do with those facts. No one person can have all the facts because we are all coming from a variety of walks of life. It’s even more humbling to learn why one person notices and remembers certain facts while another person remembers a different set.
What do I do, or does the moderator do, when someone says something that is blatantly false?
When you hear something that you know to be false, the one thing we do not want you to do is blame the speaker. That is, don’t call them a liar, say they are ignorant, or even accuse them of being wrong. Instead, we advise you to be take a closer look and ask about it.
You can respond with “I’ve never heard that before,” or “That doesn’t line up completely with what I’ve read.”
You may want to let it pass. Often, the more interesting part of the conversation comes before or after the facts.
You may invite the speaker to look into that fact together: “That’s interesting. That goes counter to what I’ve heard. Would you be willing to look this up together so we can get on the same page before proceeding?”
So you’re trying to come to compromise or persuade agreement between all sides?
Crossing Party Lines is about curiosity and civility — it’s not just a question of “what do you believe?” but also “how do your experiences lead to different beliefs?” and “what do you know that I don’t?” Until we start to see things from another’s point of view, we can’t begin to find the common grounds which we agree upon.
What makes you think this technique will achieve anything?
It is based on a great deal of research spanning over the past 65 years on how to bring conflicting groups together and create a more comfortable environment with each other. While being in the same room is important, that is not enough. The CPL techniques have been built on the many practices that have been tested about how to bring different groups together.
Is the other side crazy?
Probably not. One of the most common findings we learn through CPL discussions is that unless we actively seek out and consume media and information from all sides, we are only aware of a part of the whole picture. A person with perspective differing significantly from yours is probably wired in a way that leads them to notice and remember different things than you do, and most assuredly, is operating with a different subset of the facts than you are.
Will I learn to convince the other side better?
Crossing Party Lines is about being able to glimpse and see from another’s point of view, like walking in someone else’s shoes, at least for the moment. To be curious, we need to be open to learn. To be open to learn means that we’re willing to quiet the arguments that we build in our heads, and simply focus on how to listen more effectively.
I still have more questions.
We’re glad you have more questions and are here to listen to them.
Please reach out to us to start the conversation here.