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 DC

The nation’s Governors gathered in Washington, DC, on February 22-24, for the 2024 National Governors Association Winter Meeting. Through the Disagree Better Initiative, Governors are joining forces to reduce partisan animosity and foster healthy debate by modeling a more positive and optimistic way of working through policy problems.

Prior to the meeting NGA Chair Utah Governor Spencer Cox led several public forums in DC to speak with thought leaders representing academia, philanthropy, business and government about the good work already happening and the need for more Americans to engage with the initiative to help address toxic polarization in America.

Governor Cox opened the public meeting with an overview of the Initiative and the importance of reducing toxic polarization. Judge Thomas Griffith then moderated a conversation with U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Amy Coney Barrett, who shared their perspectives on “How to Disagree Agreeably.” In a second plenary session. Frank Luntz met with Governors for a discussion on public opinion trends and offered his perspectives on the Disagree Better initiative.

See a full readout of Disagree Better sessions from the meeting.


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

Giving Thanks, Giving Back

Giving Thanks, Giving Back

The research is clear that participating in service activities generates a host of benefits – for communities and for volunteers themselves. Service can help meet community needs and strengthen community ...
Governors Cox and Polis Call for Healthy Political Debate at Colorado Event

Governors Cox and Polis Call for Healthy Political Debate at Colorado Event

Westminster, Colorado – National Governors Association (NGA) Chair Utah Governor Spencer Cox and NGA Vice Chair Colorado Governor Jared Polis collaborated for the second in a series of bipartisan events ...
How Healthy Conflict Can Strengthen Nation

How Healthy Conflict Can Strengthen Nation

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, a Democrat, recently joined former Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell, a Republican, to participate in a conversation regarding ways “healthy conflict can unite us, improve communities, ...
At Disagree Better Event, National Security Experts Warn of the Dangers of Toxic Polarization

At Disagree Better Event, National Security Experts Warn of the Dangers of Toxic Polarization

Americans are all too familiar with the impact of toxic polarization in settings from home to work to Congress. Whether it’s tense conversations at the dinner table or gridlock on ...
Bridging Partisan Divides by Repairing American Institutions

Bridging Partisan Divides by Repairing American Institutions

Through his Chair’s Initiative: Disagree Better, National Governors Association Chair Utah Governor Spencer Cox aims to elevate solutions to toxic polarization. At a convening in New Hampshire, Governor Cox welcomed ...
Disagree Better Panelists Share Stories, Data Showing Americans Want to Engage in More Positive Dialogue

Disagree Better Panelists Share Stories, Data Showing Americans Want to Engage in More Positive Dialogue

National Governors Association (NGA) Chair Utah Governor Spencer Cox welcomed Governors, national experts and students to Manchester, New Hampshire, September 12, for the first in a series of bipartisan events ...
Governors Cox and Sununu Urge Americans to “Disagree Better” at New Hampshire Event

Governors Cox and Sununu Urge Americans to “Disagree Better” at New Hampshire Event

National Governors Association Convenes Governors for Bipartisan Discussion on Toxic Polarization Manchester, New Hampshire – National Governors Association Chair Utah Governor Spencer Cox and New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu welcomed ...
Disagree Better – 2023 NGA Annual Meeting

Disagree Better – 2023 NGA Annual Meeting

“Whatever your issue is, I’m here to tell you we cannot solve that issue if we remain as divided as we are today. I believe this issue of toxic division, ...
Utah Governor Spencer Cox Elected Chair of National Governors Association, Launches “Disagree Better” Initiative

Utah Governor Spencer Cox Elected Chair of National Governors Association, Launches “Disagree Better” Initiative

Colorado Governor Jared Polis Elected Vice Chair Atlantic City, New Jersey – Utah Governor Spencer Cox was elected chair of the National Governors Association (NGA) -- the voice of the ...