Can couple therapy techniques unite Americans with opposing political views?


If President-elect Joe Biden keeps his promise to unify the country, he has a lot of work ahead of him. Americans are fiercely divided, not just over politics, but over basic decency on the other side.

In a recent Pew Research Center poll, only one in five registered voters said they shared “core American values” with the other party, and about nine in ten feared that an opposition victory would make the difference. “a lasting evil” to America.

CBS This Morning co-host Tony Dokoupil tested an idea to relieve this strain: give America a little therapy.

When asked what they thought of the state of the country, some Americans did not get positive responses.

“I am devastated,” Iris Kloin told Dokoupil.

“I think our country is more divided than ever,” said Heather Feshbach.

“Oh, it’s terrible. It’s terrible,” said Steven Ross.

After 244 years together as a nation, the country appears to be breaking up. And Americans are concerned about the polarization and division in the country.

“I feel like there is not much compassion left for us as human beings for each other,” Aidan Gianassi said.

Almost everyone seems to agree that the state of our union is on the rocks.

“Definitely like the feeling where the husband comes home and goes to his hobbies and doesn’t talk to the wife until they go to bed,” Drew Ginsburg said.

Some, like family therapist Bill Doherty, think America is like a marriage, a marriage that is not going well. Doherty is the co-founder of a nonprofit called Braver Angels, which runs thousands of workshops across the country dedicated to mending the bond between liberals and conservatives. Doherty uses the same techniques he used to help husbands and wives.

“We’re an American family. We’re sitting at the same table. You can imagine a big, Thanksgiving table. And if we kick people off the table because of their political views, we’ll lose our ability to function as that country, ”Doherty said. noted.

Doherty said Americans must first decide that our democracy is worth saving, and not everyone thinks so.

“We have to get a divorce,” a man told Dokoupil.

“A big threat that I see growing right now is people who said they are morally compromised by having a conversation with someone who is different from them. Morally compromised because they tolerate evil. is a serious threat to a democracy, ”Doherty says.

To remedy this requires each side to take responsibility for their role in the feud, Doherty said, but as Dokoupil found out over two days while chatting with voters from all political backgrounds, speaking on the other side is a hard habit to break.

“Our current president denies the science. He denies a deadly pandemic,” said Feshbach, a Biden supporter.

When asked how Democrats can help bridge the gap, she replied, “They have to start meeting halfway.”

“I just think they’re so involved in theirs,” said Kloin, another Biden supporter. “I just find the hypocrisy of what Republicans spit out.”

But Trump supporters have also struggled with what Doherty calls “the question of humility.”

“Is it difficult to think of how you and your group could contribute? Dokoupil asked Linda Frink.

“Sure. Both sides are,” she said. “It’s just – I think the other side is just a little too crazy for me.”

“Channeling the marriage counselor here, he would tell me to say to you, ‘Forget the other side. What about you guys? What can you do differently?’” Dokoupil said.

“It’s tough,” Frink said.

Still, just about everyone CBS News spoke to was, with a little nudge, ready to admit that their side isn’t perfect.

When asked if Democrats shared some of the blame for the wickedness of politics today, Karen Owens, a Liberal, said, “Oh, yes. I wish I could say, ‘Oh, no. They have nothing to do with it, “but they do.”

Feshbach agreed. “100%,” she said.

“Well, I think the blame would probably fall, if you were to be honest, on the president,” said Dave Pasquarella, a conservative. “His criticism and his rhetoric have divided the country.

“I’m a little concerned about the president’s refusal to give in,” said NYU College Republican President Bobby Miller. “Adopting conspiracy theories never helps.

Many were also willing to recognize that American marriage requires a bit of give-and-take.

“I think we should have health care for all,” Gianassi said. “And I wouldn’t compromise on that.”

“Imagine the marriage of Americans, Democrats and Republicans,” Dokoupil replied. “You are on one side and you say ‘health care for all’. The other side says, ‘no way.’ How to stay married? ”

“It’s a good point you raise, good question, I have to say because I would like to think about it more,” said Gianassi.

“Both sides talk about ‘bringing people together’ but none of the policies or conversations really support that. So I think if you don’t help the situation then you are hurting her,” said Isaiah Evans.

It’s such a glimpse that makes Doherty, if not exactly confident, at least optimistic that America is on the mend.

“I think people are starting to realize that we can’t go on like this,” Doherty said. “I hope we wake up and see division and polarization as our enemy, not the people on the other political side.”


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