Constructive engagement across political divides is a precondition for democracy. If we can’t talk with each other, we can’t govern ourselves as a nation – it’s that simple.
We can – and must – do better.
Civic Health Project is dedicated to reducing toxic partisan polarization and enabling healthier public discourse and decision-making across our citizenry, politics, and media. Through grant making and advocacy, we support initiatives that empower Americans to reject tribal partisanship and come together to solve our nation’s greatest challenges.
Americans’ increasing hostility towards one another based on partisan political affiliation — a phenomenon known in academic circles as “affective polarization” — is one of the most corrosive forces in American life today. Affective polarization grinds our problem-solving gears to a halt. If we regard each other as enemies, rather than as good faith opponents, we lack the foundational trust to solve problems together.
While a certain amount of polarization on issues is tolerable (and even valuable) in a democracy, what we’re experiencing in the United States today is different. Polarization today has less to do with policy positions and more to do with Americans’ feelings towards their perceived political opponents. We don’t just disagree with those outside our own political in-group, we feel intense emotions of hostility and distrust. We’ve retreated into our partisan camps, with each side convinced that they are “in the right” and fearful of the opposing tribe.
The Civic Health Project Solution
The good news? Surveys show that conservatives and progressives think they are significantly more polarized on issues that they are in reality. This misperception is fueled by socially reinforced stereotypes and media exemplars that suggest citizens are more ideologically extreme than they are. There is substantial opportunity for finding common ground and working together if we can overcome the reflexive emotional disdain for those in the opposing tribe.
Reducing corrosive partisan animosity in America and improving societal outcomes is possible. Academic research points the way towards promising interventions. Many of these interventions are being widely adopted by individuals, civic groups, faith communities, and educational institutions across America.
With increased visibility, advocacy, and funding, the vital work of these academics and practitioners can accelerate and achieve broad societal impact. Civic Health Project is dedicated to uplifting this work.
Civic Health Project is helping move the needle on one of the biggest challenges facing our country: toxic partisanship. They’ve been an invaluable partner in our effort to strengthen American democracy by exposing people to diverse perspectives outside their own filter bubbles.”- John Gable, CEO and Founder of AllSides
People need to be able to work together to address complex challenges successfully. This can happen when we care about each other even when we have differing viewpoints. In fact, respectful relationships is a key aspect of civic health, a foundation that the Civic Health Project is working to build.– Joan Blades, Co-Founder, Living Room Conversations