Group Founded by University of Minnesota Family Therapist Hosts ‘Depolarization Workshop’ for Phillips and Stauber Staff


Staffers for Reps. Dean Phillips (D-MN-03) and Pete Stauber (R-MN-08) recently participated together in a “day-long depolarization workshop” facilitated by Better Angels, a non-profit launched by a family therapist from the University of Minnesota.

Bill Doherty, a professor of family therapy at the University of Minnesota, co-founded the organization shortly after the 2016 election with David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values, and David Lapp, who worked at the institute. Since its inception, Better Angels has been profiled in The Atlantic, The New York Times, NPR, and CNN.

The group’s goal is to “reduce political polarization in the United States by bringing liberals and conservatives together to understand each other beyond stereotypes, forming red/blue community alliances, teaching practical skills for communicating across political differences, and making a strong public argument for depolarization.”

Better Angels recently hosted its first-ever workshop in Congress for staffers from the offices of Phillips and Stauber. According to a press release, Doherty reached out to the two members with an “opportunity to build a foundation of understanding and respect between their district offices,” and they “jumped at the chance.”

“My office is grounded on the principle that representation begins with listening and the belief that no party has a monopoly on good ideas,” said Phillips.“What you hear on cable news is different than what you hear in neighborhoods – there’s immense value in having the hard conversations respectfully, and in finding common ground on which to build good policy. I’m grateful to my extraordinary staff, to my friend and colleague Pete Stauber, and to the Stauber team, for leading by example and being partners in the mission to elevate what unites us as Minnesotans and Americans.”

Doherty said his organization decided to start the workshop for staff members, rather than members of Congress, in order to “create momentum.”

“When I tell community members about this gathering, they break into applause,” he added.

“As Americans, our commonalities far outweigh our differences,” Stauber said in a statement. “While there is a lot of hyper-partisanship in Congress right now, I remain committed to identifying areas in which both sides of the aisle hold common ground and working with all of my colleagues to pass legislation that will benefit every American. I am incredibly thankful to my friend Dean Phillips and his staff for joining mine in this important workshop and for sharing our vision of a more unified nation.”

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].






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