We talk about the Issues that effect our lives.

  • focus identifying an aspect of the issue we believe can be explored in two hours.
  • Prompts designed to get as many views on the table as possible.
  • Recommended readings so everyone can come to the meeting with at least some shared facts.

 

Some topics come up over and over again. Here are the conversations we tend to care about the most:

  • Polling Places: Threats to One Man, One Vote
  • Ranked Choice and Other New Voting Methods: Should Winner Take All?
  • Counting Votes: How do We Ensure the Integrity of our Elections?
  • Casting Our Votes: Voting by Mail and Other Means
  • Gun Rights vs Gun Control
  • Protecting Freedom of Speech: Is it worth it?
  • Abortion: When Rights Conflict
  • Rights and Responsibility
  • What are American Values?
  • Patriotism: What does it mean to you?
  • Is America a Christian Nation?
  • City and Countryside: How lifestyle affects politics
  • Immigration: Immigrants in Our Community
  • Protecting Both Our Economy and Our Environment
  • Book Bans:
  • School Curriculum: Who Decides What Our Children Are Taught?
  • Public Education: What Should the Public Pay For?
  • Gender Roles: How do We Protect our Children?
  • What’s the right balance of power between Federal and State
  • Demoracy: Do Americans Have Enough Time For It?
  • The Supreme Court: Politics and Objectivity
  • The Rise of Democratic Socialism: What Does it Mean for America
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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.