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Moving Beyond Polarization: Making Politics Work

Virtual event to be held via Zoom Sept. 8

(Connecticut)—The Braver Angels Connecticut Alliance is inviting the public to Moving Beyond Polarization: Making Politics Work, a special event demonstrating how two state representatives—one red, one blue—can bridge the political divide.

Braver Angels co-founder Bill Doherty will moderate a unique discussion between Republican Stephen Harding (107th Assembly District) and Democrat Cristin McCarthy Vahey (133rd Assembly District). Connecticut Public and the Governor M. Jodi Rell Center for Public Service at the University of Hartford are co-sponsoring the event.

The virtual program—set for Sept. 8 from 7:30-9 p.m. on Zoom—is free and open to people of any and all political viewpoints. Visit ct.braverangels.org for more information, or register to attend this free event at bit.ly/ct-beyond.

The goals of this engaging, moderated, and timely discussion include: improving understanding of the experiences, values, and beliefs of a member of the other political party in today’s polarized environment; discovering areas of commonality and differences; discussing current challenges in state politics; and exploring ideas for reducing political polarization.

Doherty said, “I am excited to moderate Moving Beyond Polarization for the Braver Angels Connecticut Alliance. The citizens of Connecticut want their elected officials, regardless of political party, to work collaboratively to address the state’s important issues, and this event promises to show how this can be done.”

“Connecticut Public is excited to be a part of this event,” added President and CEO Mark Contreras. “Civility is in short supply today and we are happy to partner with organizations like Braver Angels and the Rell Center, which are trying to build back civility to our public discourse.”

“The people’s business gets done when the people’s elected representatives talk to one another—not at one another,” said former Gov. M. Jodi Rell. “This program is all about bridging political and ideological divides to encourage honest debate and forward progress. People don’t always have to agree, but we can all be a lot more agreeable in how we serve the people who are counting on us.”

About Braver Angels, Braver Politics, and the Connecticut Alliance:

Launched in 2016, Braver Angels is a bipartisan citizen’s movement to unify America. By bringing Red and Blue Americans together into a working alliance, Braver Angels is building new ways to talk to one another, participate together in public life, and influence the direction of the nation. Through its network of local alliances throughout the country, Braver Angels offers a range of in-person and online workshops, debates, book and film clubs, podcasts, and more. https://braverangels.org

Moving Beyond Polarization is the Connecticut Alliance’s first “Braver Politics” event. Launched by Braver Angels in the spring of 2022, Braver Politics is a national initiative to depolarize our politics and remake our political culture from the ground up in a spirit of trust, citizenship, and goodwill. By fostering opportunities for elected officials, candidates, and their staff to participate in Braver Angels programs with each other and with constituents, to develop skills for communicating across differences, and to build constructive relationships across partisan divides, Braver Politics will influence politics at the local, state, and federal level going into the 2022 elections and beyond. Braver Politics invites citizen volunteers, candidates, and elected officials to take part in their efforts. https://braverpolitics.org

The Connecticut Alliance is made up of citizens who have participated in a Braver Angels workshop, who seek to find common ground across political divides, and who volunteer to bring Braver Angels and Braver Politics events to the area. https://ct.braverangels.org

About Connecticut Public:

Connecticut Public is Connecticut’s only state-wide, community-supported public media service. It is a member station of national public media services PBS and NPR, and the parent company for three television stations: Connecticut Public Television (CPTV); CPTV Spirit; and PBS Kids 24/7; and Connecticut Public Radio (WNPR). It serves one million people each month through its television, radio and digital platforms. Connecticut Public’s Mission is “to Inform, Educate and Inspire CT” and its VISION is “Connecting our CT Communities.” Doing business as “Connecticut Public,” Connecticut Public Broadcasting, Inc. is a locally-controlled 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, with a $20 million annual budget, funded primarily through community support from individuals, foundations and corporate sponsors. https://www.ctpublic.org

About the Governor M. Jodi Rell Center for Public Service at the University of Hartford:

The Governor M. Jodi Rell Center for Public Service at the University of Hartford was established in 2011. The purpose of the Rell Center is to promote the values exemplified by the life and career of the 87th Governor of Connecticut M. Jodi Rell—specifically the values of integrity in government and public service and responsible participation in public life.

The mission of the Governor M. Jodi Rell Center for Public Service at the University of Hartford is to provide a community and academic forum for the discussion of ethics in government, the importance of civil discourse in politics, citizen involvement in public service and government and seeks to encourage students and others to pursue careers in public service and to assist in providing a clearinghouse for student public service internships. https://www.hartford.edu/rell-center

About the Discussion Participants:

State Rep. Stephen Harding (Republican) is serving in his fourth term representing the 107th Assembly District covering Brookfield and parts of Bethel and Danbury. He is the Ranking Member of the Legislature’s Environment Committee, a member of the Judiciary and the Education committees. https://www.cthousegop.com/harding

State Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey (Democrat) is serving her fourth term representing Fairfield's 133rd Assembly District. She is House Chair of the Planning and Development Committee and a member of the Government Administration and Elections and Transportation committees. https://www.housedems.ct.gov/McCarthyVahey

Bill Doherty, co-founder of Braver Angels will be the Moderator of this discussion. He is the creator of the Braver Angels workshop approach and is a Professor and Director of the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project in the Department of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota. His background combines expertise in family therapy and community engagement. https://braverangels.org/leader-spotlight-bill-doherty

Moving Beyond Polarization: Making Politics Work will take place on Thursday, September 8th, 2022, 7:30pm - 9:00pm ET via Zoom. Visit ct.braverangels.org for more information or register to attend this free event at bit.ly/ct-beyond.