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In partnership with the National Day of Dialogue, we put together this list of episodes to showcase the power of dialogue to bridge polarization, political divides, and social and economic inequality.

Interested in learning how to strengthen your bridge-building skills and engage in constructive dialogue with individuals from across the country? On January 5, 2024, Urban Rural Action and Ideos Institute will co-lead the 2024 National Day of Dialogue event.

This is YOUR opportunity to join a coalition of bridge building organizations and thousands of Americans for the National Day of Dialogue, a nationwide virtual event meant to spark productive conversations and build common ground between individuals in our community


Yuval Levin, Dir. Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at AEI: “I strongly disagree with you. Now, pass the gravy.”

Dr. Yuval Levin which we originally had right after the terrible attacks of October 7th in Israel.

It was especially timely to have Dr. Yuval Levin on the program as he's not only one of this country's foremost scholars and policy experts, he's originally from Haifa, Israel. So we, of course, discussed what's happening there; however, our recording was only a couple days after the terrorist attacks that sparked the war. We did get to discuss a number of other pressing issues such as Dr. Levin's advocacy for ranked choice voting in primary elections; how to structure institutions to create the right kind of culture; whether our political positions come first or our philosophical and ethical moorings are primary; how Yuval is really just reiterating Aristotle for contemporary society - i.e. "What kind of person do I want to be? And what would that kind of person do in this situation?" With that in mind, a central theme of this program came up: How do we engage with friends, family and neighbors when so many are expressing extremist views? Dr. Levin's recommendation is that sometimes, at Thanksgiving, we just have to say, "I really think you're wrong. Now, pass the gravy..." and leave it at that. And I bet you never knew Alexis de Tocqueville could have been a Borscht Belt comedian!

Yuval Levin is the director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. The founder and editor of National Affairs, he is also a senior editor at The New Atlantis, a contributing editor at National Review, and a contributing opinion writer at The New York Times. Dr. Levin served as a member of the White House domestic policy staff under President George W. Bush. And he has published essays and articles in numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Commentary. He is the author of several books on political theory and public policy, most recently A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream.

Stand Up Comic, Host and Journo-Activist Pete Dominick and Corey got in a big disagreement. But did they wanna kill each other?

For this edition, we welcome back Pete Dominick, the host of Stand Up! with Pete Dominick. In the second half of our conversation (approx. 50 minutes in), Pete and Corey discuss a major disagreement they had a few months ago. It's about whether someone who identifies with one party - Republican or Democrat - can even fathom the possibility of voting for a candidate from the other political party. It's a barn burner. Not quite like any conversation we've had on the program so far. Let us know what you think about it.

We also covered a ton of ground in the first half of this conversation. We explored how Pete got into stand up comedy, his raison d'etre, how he built his career in television and radio, what it's been like to learn podcasting and growing his show from scratch; and we also got into some current issues like the cases against Trump and what we both saw as more consequential news such as the election of a progressive state supreme court judge in Wisconsin.

Fighting Back Against Misinformation with Former Congressman Denver Riggleman

Denver Riggleman joins The Great Battlefield podcast to talk about his career being a former Congressman for Virginia, a tech advisor to the January 6 Committee, owning a distillery and building his firm Riggleman Information and Intelligence Group.

The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization

Toxic polarization and conflict is exhausting. Whether it’s in your family, at work or in our perpetually acrimonious civic life, it’s like a suitcase full of big ole rocks we lug around while we try to get the usual tasks of life-y-ness done.  Our UNUM journey has brought us thinkers and leaders from sea to shining sea, but now we’re turning intentionally to see THE WAY OUT — and it turns out that really being able to see it is a key first step in being able to do it.

Columbia University’s Peter T. Coleman brings us deep wisdom informed by a life in scholarship that leaves us more hopeful than the usual fare. Know that when we listen to Peter, we do cartwheels of joy — and who doesn’t need joy right about now? Facilitated by BridgeUSA's Manu Meel, this is a must-listen if you're looking for The Way Out.

Learn more about Dr. Coleman and read a full program description online here. Pick up a copy of The Way Out (you'll thank us) at our partner bookseller Midtown Reader (wherever you live).

Peter T. Coleman is Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University where he holds a joint-appointment at Teachers College and The Earth Institute. Dr. Coleman directs the Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution.

A Braver Story: The Braver Angels Story of American Citizenship

This episodes tells the story of one group of people who have risen.

Built by patriotic volunteers, Braver Angels is a national movement to bridge the partisan divide, equally balanced between conservatives and progressives at every level of leadership. They work in communities, on college campuses, in the media, and in the halls of political power. We’ll offer up a behind the scenes view of this extraordinary group of Americans—how they formed, what they’ve learned and what’s next.

Combating Antisemitism and Hatred featuring Bob Shrum, Bret Stephens, and Zev Yaroslavsky

CPF's inaugural discussion of our Combating Antisemitism and Hatred Series features CPF Director Bob Shrum, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bret Stephens, and former Los Angeles elected official Zev Yaroslavksy. The series explores the struggle against antisemitism in the context of countering hate, reducing violence, promoting empathy, and nurturing civil dialogue.


  • William Deverell: Divisional Dean for the Social Sciences, USC Dornsife
  • Bret Stephens: Opinion Columnist for The New York Times; Editor-in-Chief of Sapir
  • Zev Yaroslavsky: Former Los Angeles County Supervisor, District 3
  • Bob Shrum: Director, Center for the Political Future; Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics, USC Dornsife

What can storytelling teach us about politics?

In this week’s episode of Politics In Question, Jake Tapper joins Lee and James to talk about his latest novel, All the Demons Are Here (Little, Brown and Company, 2023) and how storytelling helps us understand politics. Tapper is CNN’s chief Washington correspondent and hosts its award-winning program, The Lead with Jake Tapper, and its Sunday morning show, State of the Union. He is also the author of five novels, including The Hellfire Club and The Devil May Dance.

What does fiction allow writers to do that non-fiction doesn’t? Why do fictionalized accounts of the past help us better understand the present? What is different about politics in the 1970s and politics today? And what is so special about Evel Knievel? These are some of the questions Jake, Lee, and James discuss in this week’s episode.

Is America too polarized or too fragmented?

In this week’s episode of Politics In Question, Rick Pildes joins Lee and James to consider two different explanations for America’s present political dysfunction. Pildes is the Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law at the New York University School of Law. His work explores legal and policy issues concerning the structure of democratic elections and institutions, such as the role of money in politics, the design of election districts, the regulation of political parties, the structure of voting systems, the representation of minority interests in democratic institutions, and similar issues. Earlier in his career, Pildes clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Law Institute. Most recently, President Biden appointed Pildes to the President’s Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Why is American politics presently dysfunctional? Is it because Americans are too polarized? Or is it because they are too fragmented? How has political fragmentation affected politics in the past? What challenges does it pose for effective governance? What is an effective government? And how many political parties do Americans really need? These are some of the questions that Rick, Lee, and James ask in this week’s episode.

The Rising Danger Of Extremism In America

One of the biggest threats facing Americans today…is extremism. What can be done to combat the rising danger of extremist events in the United States? On this episode of Our Body Politic, host Farai Chideya, speaks with Kristofer Goldsmith, founder and CEO of Taskforce Butler, about engaging veterans in the fight against extremism. Then Farai gets a debrief from journalist and Our Body Politic team member Joanne Levine, who attended the Mom’s For Liberty Annual Summit. They’re an organization that has been designated to have “racist” and “extremist ties. We round the show out with our Sippin’ the Political Tea roundtable that includes Robert P. Jones, the president and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute and Anthea Butler, the Geraldine R. Segal Professor in American Social Thought and chair of the department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, about the connections between religion, race, politics and violence.

Disagree Better: Politics Across Divides

Recently, during a public event at Utah's State Capitol, Governor Spencer Cox issued a stark warning: "Either we, the people, collectively decide we're going to stop hating our fellow Americans, or we'll start shooting each other."

In our podcast, we hear why Governor Cox passionately believes that the country is heading in a dangerous direction with hyperpartisanship and political dysfunction and what he's doing about it with his Disagree Better Initiative.

Spencer Cox, a Republican, is the 2023 Chair of the bipartisan National Governors Association. He selected "Disagree Better" to be the Association's current campaign. Through public debates, service projects, meetings, and public service announcements, Disagree Better brings together red and blue governors, looking at the problems of polarization and how to elevate solutions that Common Ground Committee and other groups in the bridging community are implementing.

Local Common Ground: Dinner & A Fight

Want to know one of the most exciting and innovative ways to find common ground? Get people out of their political bunkers and move them beyond rigid polarization in our divided nation. Consider local grassroots efforts, such as the one we profile in this podcast episode.

Journalist Simon Montlake of The Christian Science Monitor tells us about his reporting on a lively grassroots effort in northeast Ohio to help people of all political stripes disagree constructively. Participants meet first over dinner at a community center and then debate a hot topic. The audience is invited to discuss a controversial proposition, listening to different points of view. It’s called Dinner and a Fight with the word "fight" crossed out and replaced by "dialog".

Event organizers Ted Wetzel and Tom Hach explain how the evenings work and why they can be part of a broader effort to rebuild civic bonds. Ted is the founder and executive director of Fighting-To-Understand, a nonprofit group that encourages people to be more skilled at healthy disagreement. Former IT program manager and retired Navy Reservist Tom Hach is the Director of Ohio Freedom Action Network (OhioFAN).

Polarization Series: Bridging Divides at Braver Angels. Erica Manuel and Manu Meel

Affective polarization in America – the gap between voters' positive feelings about their own political party or "side" and negative feelings toward the opposing party – has sharply increased during the past two decades.

We speak with two leaders in local government and a nationwide students group about effective ways to bridge divides.

Erica Manuel is CEO and Executive Director at the Institute for Local Government in Roseville, California. She has over 20 years of experience helping public, private and nonprofit organizations implement innovative policies to provide strong leadership, advance climate resilience, support economic development, engage communities, and drive positive change.

Manu Meel is CEO of BridgeUSA, a student-led nonprofit organization that creates spaces at colleges and high schools for open discussion among students about political issues. BridgeUSA began in 2016 at the universities of Notre Dame, CU-Boulder and UC Berkeley in response to growing polarization on campus.

Erica and Manu were interviewed by our co-host Richard Davies at the 2023 Braver Angels Convention in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Both of them played leading roles at the cross-partisan gathering of Democrats, Republicans and independent citizens. Braver Angels is part of the growing movement of bridging organizations, who are finding new ways to push back against rigid and dehumanizing political divides.

Many young people on college campuses are "just scared to say what's on their minds, and walking on eggshells," Manu tells us. He blames "the loudest voices" for silencing open discussion. "This is not a problem of the majority," he says. "It is a problem of the loudest voices imposing their closed-mindedness on an exhausted majority."

Both Erica and Manu insist they're hopeful that the crisis of polarization can be successfully overcome. "I'm hopeful because not a single person I've talked to has said why on earth would you do that? Why on earth would you talk to someone on the other side? Why on earth would you want to treat someone like a human being with dignity?" Erica tells Richard.

Polarization Series: The Keys to Good Conflict. Hélène Biandudi Hofer

Destructive conflict aims to destroy the other side. But constructive conflict can be a force for good.

In this episode we learn how good conflict helps move people beyond polarization, slogans, and angry tweets to a place where they can connect and grow— even as they strongly disagree. Hélène Biandudi Hofer says that when we have the vocabulary and basic skills to investigate conflict with curiosity, it can change everything.Journalists Hélène Biandudi Hofer and Amanda Ripley co-founded Good Conflict, which works with news organizations, non-profits, elected officials, educators, religious leaders, and others to lean into conflict in a constructive, productive way. Hélène developed and managed the Solutions Journalism Network’s Complicating the Narratives project. She trained more than a thousand journalists across 125 newsrooms throughout the world."

I believe story is the most underutilized and under-appreciated thing to help people understand those we disagree with and who are vastly different from ourselves," she tells us. In this podcast, we hear about the specific tools, skills and vocabulary Hélène uses to help people respond to disagreements without sliding into contempt.Co-hosts and Richard come to this subject from very different places. While Richard says he "sometimes falls into a trap of trying to avoid conflict and ignoring that it's a needed part of life." Jim responds: "I like a good argument. I think it's healthy and kind of exciting sometimes to have a difference of opinion, especially with a good friend."This episode and others about polarization are funded in part by a grant from Solutions Journalism Network. Richard is one of this year's Complicating The Narratives Fellows.

Solutions to the campus free speech woes: An interview with ALL IN Democracy Challenge's Stephanie King and JMU Debate

It feels like free speech has become the number one issue confronting higher education today. Campuses are now hotbeds of discontent. Students are sitting in, protesting questionable speakers on campus. State elected officials are dismantling diversity, equity and inclusion programming. So what is being done to address the campus free speech woes? Stephanie King, senior director of strategic initiatives for the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, and Dannise Brown and Adonis Ortiz, members of the Madison Debate Society at James Madison University provide us with some answers to campus free speech issues.

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