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From WMOT News

Meetings bring Tenn. Republicans and Democrats together

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BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  An Ohio based non-profit believes conversation is the key to bridging the current political divide here in Tennessee and across the country.

The group Better Angels began hosting facilitated, small-group discussions between Democrats and Republicans weeks after the 2016 election. They’ve since arranged hundreds of group meetings nationwide.

Better Angels spokesman David Lapp says the workshops aren’t designed to change the political views of those who participate, but to change how Reds and Blues see each other.

“’We the People’ have to take responsibility for the divisions that our country is experiencing right now, and we’re finding that – as one person said in a workshop – ‘You don’t hate people that you know.’”

In each Better Angels meeting, seven Republicans and seven Democrats gather around a table. Their day-long conversation is facilitated by a trained moderator.

Angela and Julie attended a recent meeting.

“It’s OK to have opposing ideas. It’s OK to be different. We are still human. We still love one another.” “It smashes a lot of the stereotype of what one group or another group is supposed to be.”

The name Better Angels comes from a speech delivered by Abraham Lincoln just before the outbreak of the Civil War, when he said “We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.”

To date, Better Angels workshops have been held in five states. Tennessee meetings have been held so far in Jackson and Brentwood.