2023-2024 NGA Chair’s Initiative

Disagree Better

Americans are deeply concerned and exhausted by the hyperpartisanship and polarization in our country, and rightly so. We’ve forgotten how to persuade without hating each other. But our nation’s history shows there’s a better way, and we all need to re-learn how to Disagree Better.

Disagreeing Better In Nashville

On May 14, 2024, NGA Chair Utah Governor Spencer Cox and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee collaborated for the latest Disagree Better event.

Centered on the theme of building dialogue skills and fostering positive contact, the Nashville event featured panel discussions with bipartisan experts, and keynote addresses from Moral Courage College Founder and CEO Irshad Manji, and Citizen University Co-Founder and CEO Eric Liu, along with the release of Disagree Better: A Parenting Toolkit.

Speakers and attendees also worked together on a service project in coordination with Comfort Cases, an organization that assembles and distributes care packages for children entering the foster care system.

Readouts and session videos will be available on this page.

“We can disagree and stand firm for our beliefs and principles, but we should never forget the dignity of the other human being. I’m proud to join Governors across the nation in demonstrating that civility is not a weakness – it’s the Tennessee Way and the American Way.” – Governor Bill Lee


Disagree Better: Healthy Conflict for Better Policy

Americans need to disagree better. And by that we don’t mean that we need to be nicer to each other, although that’s helpful. We need to learn to disagree in a way that allows us to find solutions and solve problems instead of endlessly bickering.

An “exhausted majority” of Americans want this, and the science is clear about interventions that reduce polarization. As doers and builders, Governors are in a unique position to model what healthy conflict looks like.

The Disagree Better initiative will look at the problems of polarization, elevate the solutions that groups around the country are already implementing, and feature Governors showing what disagreeing better looks like. Through public debates, service projects, public service announcements and a variety of other tactics, Americans will see a more positive and optimistic way of working through our problems.

We know that conflict resolution takes work and involves difficult conversations. It’s much easier to sow division than to persuade or find solutions. But we also know that no one ever changed someone’s mind by attacking them.

Through healthy conflict, we’re confident that we can find common ground and improve our families, our communities and our nation. Together, we can disagree better.

– Utah Governor Spencer Cox, NGA Chair


Governor Videos

By breaking the cycle of conflict and personal attacks, Governors aim to remind Americans it’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

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Inspiration & Action

We all have a role to play in overcoming toxic polarization. There are plenty of ways to get involved and do your part to help America Disagree Better.

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Research & Resources

Dozens of groups are involved in depolarization work. Here are some of the individuals and organizations helping us learn to Disagree Better.

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Meetings & Events

Governor Cox has been hosting events around the country designed to show that Americans can work through our differences.

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about the Initiative

Disagree Better is an effort to show that as Americans, we can work through our differences to find solutions to the most difficult problems facing our states and our nation. This effort includes a series of public-facing efforts, assisted by NGA and chosen from a toolkit of interventions that are customizable for each state/governor. These strategies include:

  • Hosting a service project within your communities, potentially with your state Legislature and their spouses from both sides of the aisle.
  • Recording an ad with a neighboring governor from a different party, a legislator from the opposing party, or a campaign opponent. NGA Chair Utah Gov. Cox, a Republican, and NGA Vice Chair Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, explain more in this video.
  • Recording a brief civic education ad, explaining that our nation’s founding and the Constitution were designed for people from different backgrounds and with different views.
  • Writing an op-ed with someone from the other party on a topic of common ground.
  • Hosting a debate at a college or university that models healthy conflict to future generations, including in partnership with organizations like Braver Angels and Bridge USA.

Over the next year, we’ll host four NGA convenings across the country to expose Governors to the good work already happening and connect them with the leading organizations, so they can help elevate and accelerate such work in their states.

The goal is for Governors to model how to disagree better, setting an example and creating the permission structure and template for other public officials at every level to follow.


the Power of Service

The research is clear that participating in service activities breaks down barriers, lifts up others and improves mental health. As part of the Disagree Better NGA Initiative, Utah First Lady Abby Cox will be leading efforts to incorporate a service project at each of the four NGA convenings throughout the year.


NGA Disagree Better Library

Governor Cox and Governor Lee on Disagreeing Better

Governor Cox and Governor Lee on Disagreeing Better

In May, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee hosted a convening in Nashville for Utah Governor Cox’s NGA Chair’s Initiative: Disagree Better. The theme of the meeting was building dialogue skills and ...
Disagree Better Panelists Highlight Ways to Help Students Have Healthier Conversations

Disagree Better Panelists Highlight Ways to Help Students Have Healthier Conversations

On May 14, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee hosted NGA Chair Utah Governor Spencer Cox for a convening in Nashville in support of Governor Cox’s NGA Chair’s Initiative: Disagree Better. Disagree ...
Disagree Better Speakers Share Tips for Constructive Disagreement

Disagree Better Speakers Share Tips for Constructive Disagreement

“Be curious before deciding to be furious.” Delivering a keynote address at the Nashville Disagree Better convening, Moral Courage Network’s Founder and CEO Irshad Manji summed up the message at ...
Governors Cox and Lee Host Disagree Better Panel

Governors Cox and Lee Host Disagree Better Panel

Nashville, Tennessee – National Governors Association (NGA) Chair Utah Governor Spencer Cox and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee collaborated for the latest in a series of events in support of Governor ...
Healing Divides Through Volunteerism and Service

Healing Divides Through Volunteerism and Service

This week Utah Governor Spencer Cox and Maryland Governor Wes Moore published an op/ed in the Deseret News on volunteering and service as the keys to healing divides in America, ...
State of the State – 2024

State of the State – 2024

Governors of states, territories and commonwealths are outlining their priorities for 2024 in state of the state or commonwealth addresses, as well as inaugural addresses for new and re-elected Governors ...
Disagree Better – Architects, Not Arsonists

Disagree Better – Architects, Not Arsonists

Politicians work on policies that have real world impacts on the people they serve, and thus, political coverage tends to lead to serious people talking in serious voices. This is ...
Working Together with Mutual Respect and Dignity

Working Together with Mutual Respect and Dignity

Through the Disagree Better initiative, NGA Chair Utah Governor Spencer Cox believes Governors can play a pivotal role helping all Americans – citizens and elected officials alike – learn to ...
U.S. Supreme Court Justices Join Governors to Discuss Overcoming Political Division

U.S. Supreme Court Justices Join Governors to Discuss Overcoming Political Division

Washington DC – During the annual Winter Meeting of the National Governors Association (NGA), NGA Chair Utah Governor Spencer Cox and NGA Vice Chair Colorado Governor Jared Polis welcomed U.S. Supreme ...
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