In the midst of an incredibly divisive election, one group of Shenandoah Valley residents is choosing to lean into difference and discomfort rather than shy away. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.
Family nurse practitioner Chris Moore of Harrisonburg, like many of us, has been troubled by the level of political polarization in America.
CHRIS MOORE: Over the last three and a half years, I've been pretty discouraged with the state of our political dialogue and cultural fraying, and was really encouraged by first lurking and then participating in the Braver Angels activities.
Braver Angels is a national grassroots organization that seeks to depolarize American politics. They hold workshops, debates, and discussion groups designed to bring people together across the political spectrum to hear one another's stories and empathize with each other.
Moore decided he wanted to organize for Better Angels here in the Valley. He and collaborator Mary Jo Bowman put together a group of about 12 local residents with differing political views to meet via Zoom both before and after Tuesday's election. Although Moore would like a perfectly balanced group, he said that more conservatives than liberals have turned down his invitation.
MOORE: I have heard from folks in that group that they at times feel silenced or feel less free to speak than they feel like people on the liberal end of the spectrum do in the current climate, in the circles in which they mix … So I guess it's not surprising to me that it's a little bit more appealing to folks on the liberal side.
He encouraged anyone interested in starting their own group to read more about the organization at braverangels.org.
MOORE: Mutual understanding is the primary goal. In the hopefully unlikely event of a real crisis around the election in which there's more fracture, more division – any kind of action steps would have to come from the group kind of as a whole, but I think again would more tend to be trying to embolden and encourage people to speak out within their other circles of influence to try to de-escalate and depolarize conversations