Republican Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah and Democratic Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado on Sunday challenged Americans to approach political disagreements with respect in their mission to elevate “civic dialogue across the country.”
Cox and Polis, the heads of the National Governors Association, told CNN’s Dana Bash in a joint interview on “State of the Union” that their new initiative, titled “Disagree Better,” is about toning down political rhetoric ahead of 2024 election cycle.
“Governors are uniquely positioned to take this on, in that we actually have to get stuff done,” Cox said. “We work together, we learn from each other, we are the laboratories of democracy … We’re going to do everything we can over the next year to elevate this conversation.”
Polis, the first openly gay governor, said these more civil conversations start with identifying “common ground.”
“Put the issues on the table, talk about what works, what doesn’t work, use data as your guide. This initiative doesn’t mean everybody needs to agree on every topic, but it means we should have conversations of disagreement at a better level, a higher level, a more effective level for the future of our country,” Polis said.
A CNN poll this spring found deep divisions among Americans across a range of topics. A near-unanimous 91% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said things in the US were going badly, while just 48% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said the same.
These divisions are especially evident in Americans’ views of the 2024 White House field. A June CNN/SSRS poll found that more Americans viewed neither President Joe Biden nor former President Donald Trump favorably than held favorable views of either man.
A plurality (36%) viewed neither candidate favorably, while 33% had a favorable view of Trump and 32% of Biden.
Cox, on countering polarization in the upcoming election, argued: “We are kind of sleepwalking into this election that nobody is excited about, and that nobody wants.”
“Sadly, we are heading into what I believe, and most Americans believe, will be the next most divisive election of our lifetime. Our hope is that over the course of the next year, we can provide some counterprogramming to what we’re seeing, at the national discourse,” Cox said.
Neither governor has shied away from enacting laws on some of the most contentious political issues.
Cox, as governor of Utah, signed into law this year measures that banned abortion clinics from operating in the state even as the procedure remains legal up to 18 weeks into a pregnancy.
Polis, meanwhile, signed a package of bills that further protect the rights to abortion and gender-affirming services in the state.
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