Event aims to close political divide | ParkRecord.com

Event aims to close political divide

Liberals and conservatives will explain their philosophies

Summit County Republican Party Chair Tal Adair and Vice Chair Sue Pollard will represent the conservative side of the political aisle on the Project for a Deeper Understanding panel Thursday at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

It's easy to notice how contentious the political climate is. Facebook posts linked to recent articles about the Trump Administration are often-filled with hateful rhetoric. News coverage of proposals traveling through the U.S. House of Representatives usually include quotes from liberal or conservative politicians attacking their party's opponents.

Charles Robinson, the rector at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, said recent events have made it difficult for people with varying political viewpoints to engage in meaningful and productive conversations.

In an attempt to get people representing both sides of the pendulum to work together, the rector organized an upcoming Project for a Deeper Understanding event aimed toward getting Park City residents to explain why they choose to affiliate with progressive or traditional beliefs.

"I wanted to do something that was a constructive effort toward pushing against this polarization, or this growing idea that you're my enemy if you disagree with me," Robinson said. "The best way I know how to do that is to get people together to talk to each other."

Conservatives and Liberals: Crossing the Divide Toward Common Ground — hosted by a Project for a Deeper Understanding — will be from 7-9 p.m. Thursday, March 30, at the St. Luke's Church in Snyderville, located at 4595 N. Silver Springs Road.

Robinson said the event will be different from the others planned by members of a Project for a Deeper Understanding.

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When in the past the issues group delved into sensitive issues such as immigration reform, it encouraged dialogue and debate. Robinson, however, wants the Thursday event to be a listening exercise.

A panel with two conservatives and two liberals will take stage to explain themselves, rather than converse.

"It's hard to hate someone if you know their story," Robinson said. "What we want to do is have people come together —Trump supporters and Trump opponents — to spend some time listening to the ideas and stories of the other side."

Cheryl Butler will be one panelist who will answer questions asked by a moderator.

"I'll be talking about what it means to me to be a liberal Democrat and what life experiences led me to that philosophy," she said.

Butler hopes this event, which will also welcome Summit County Republican Party Chair Tal Adair as a panelist, will build bridges between Republicans and Democrats.

"We are part of a wonderful community, and country, filled with so many people of different viewpoints and strengths," she said. "And when we can share those perspectives constructively and work together, we can accomplish so much more than if we work at odds with one another."

Attendees will be invited to talk about their opinions after Butler, Adair, lifelong political activist and proud liberal Mike Andrews and Summit County Republican Party Vice Chair Sue Pollard speak.

"We have a bunch of round tables at the church," Robinson said. "Each table will have three chairs designated for progressives and three chairs for conservatives. Each table will also have a moderator."

Liberals and conservatives seated at the tables will then participate in the same listening exercise practiced by the panelists.

"They will answer the moderators questions without any kind of cross talk or arguing," Robinson said.

The rector hopes the March 30 panel will be the first in a series of similar events hosted by the Project for a Deeper Understanding.

"If we get through that evening and we all agree that is was a positive experience, then the project hopes to follow up with another event fairly soon," Robinson said. "It will probably be in late April and will take us to the next level of moving toward dialogue."

Conservatives and Liberals: Crossing the Divide Toward Common Ground — hosted by a Project for a Deeper Understanding — will be from 7-9 p.m. Thursday, March 30, at the St. Luke's Church in Snyderville, located at 4595 N. Silver Springs Road. Liberals and conservatives will be able to explain their political philosophies without the fear of argument from the opposing side.