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Gov. Cox talks about depolarization, disagreeing in a better way

Governor Spencer Cox speaks into a microphone.
Shalayne Smith Needham
Governor Spencer Cox

On Thursday’s Access Utah, UPR’s Tom Williams spoke with Utah Gov. Spencer Cox on how he is working on depolarization as the Chair of the National Governors Association.

Gov. Cox shared that one thing he is working on as Utah governor and as chair of the National Governors Association is helping people understand how to disagree better.

“Disagreement is not a bad thing, but how we disagree can be very toxic, and destructive," Cox said. "And we're certainly seeing more of that. I mean, our nation was founded on profound disagreement, but we need to learn or remember how to disagree in the right ways. And that's how you disagree without hating each other, how to disagree without tearing our country apart.”

The governor has been working with researchers across the country, at universities such as Stanford, Dartmouth and Duke who are studying depolarization and how to work out issues in a way that isn’t toxic.

He said this idea of depolarization and disagreeing better is not just applicable in a government or political setting, but in everyday conversations we have with those of differing opinions.

Gov. Cox said one of the best ways to handle these disagreements is to be curious and ask questions.

“Ask them more about why they believe what they believe, really be curious, try to learn from them, and, and get to the heart at the core of their beliefs," Cox said. "And what almost always happens now, not always, but what almost always happens is that they will afford you the same opportunity.”

Cox added that as we ask questions of those we disagree with and try to understand where they’re coming from oftentimes, we can find points within or about a topic that we do agree on and establish common ground.

He also said that as governmental organizations are increasingly becoming more polarized and as politics are dividing the country, depolarization is something that many Americans want the country to work towards.

“The good news is there's polling out there that shows that there is an exhaustive majority," Cox said. "Recent polls show that 75% of Americans want Congress to actually work together and find common ground that over 70% are tired of the divisiveness and the end, the fighting that we're seeing in politics.”

Caitlin Keith is a general news reporter at UPR. She is from Lindon, Utah and is currently an undergrad student studying print journalism at USU. Caitlin loves to write and tell people’s stories. She is also a writer at the Utah Statesman. She loves to read, ski, play the cello and watch various TV shows.