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

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 ...