Common Ground Committee co-founders Bruce Bond and Erik Olsen attended an invitation-only, bipartisan event on September 12, 2023, in Manchester, New Hampshire. The National Governors Association (NGA) held the event headed by Chair Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R). They joined other leaders in the bridge movement.

The event was the first in a series of bipartisan events to further the goals of Gov. Cox’s Disagree Better initiative to address toxic polarization in America. 

What is the National Governors Association and the Disagree Better Initiative?

Per the NGA website, “Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association is a bipartisan organization of governors of the 55 states, territories, and commonwealths whose mission is to share best practices, speak with an informed voice on national policy and develop innovative solutions to improve citizens’ lives through state government and support the principles of federalism.”

The Disagree Better initiative is a specific program aimed at promoting healthy debate.  They state, “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 various other tactics, Americans will see a more optimistic way of working through our problems.”

The NGA Disagree Better Event

The following governors attended:

Other attendees of the event include:

  • New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R)
  • Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D)
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D)
  • Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee (D)
  • Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R)

Several bridge movement leaders attended as well.

Every year, the NGA Chair gets to select a particular issue and launch an initiative dedicated to solving it. Past NGA Chair initiatives have focused on issues such as youth mental health, computer science education in K-12 schools and infrastructure. Launched in July, Gov. Cox’s Disagree Better initiative seeks to address our nation’s toxic polarization and teach Americans how to have healthier disagreements.

The initiative recognizes that the “exhausted majority” of Americans are fed up with the level of incivility in our current political process and seeks to show the American people a “more positive and optimistic way of working through our problems” through a series of various bipartisan events.

Common Ground Committee applauds Gov. Cox and the NGA for their commitment to advocating for a healthier, more civil way of talking to one another to find common ground and move forward on the myriad of challenging issues facing our nation.