On Wednesday, July 5, 2023, nearly 700 delegates — equally divided between Red and Blue — gathered in Gettysburg at the 2023 Braver Angels Convention. We came together to bridge the partisan divide, bring a spirit of goodwill to our politics, and spark a movement that’s larger than our organization alone.
It was hard to pull off.
We leaned on a small, scrappy staff and a dedicated group of volunteers who put everything they had into making the convention happen.
And then, it did.
Delegates checked in — sometimes in groups as large as fifty to a hundred — and made their way to the dorms, where they’d be staying for the next three nights. Volunteers who worked together on Zoom for the past three years embraced as old friends. And people from across the country — some of whom were just getting to know Braver Angels — forged deep, meaningful friendships with folks they never would’ve encountered in their day-to-day lives.
It was absolutely electric.
Representative Dean Phillips (D-MN) called Braver Angels members his “heroes,” and Governor Spencer Cox (R-UT) committed to elevating our work in his role as National Governors Association (NGA) Chair. We explored big topics, such as Christian nationalism with Hunter Baker and Dan Darling, Black America with Tavis Smiley and Ian Rowe, polarization and propaganda with Jonathan Rauch, and how to handle being triggered with Luis Mojica. And we sang and danced together, as our Artist-in-Residence Gangstagrass beautifully combined hip-hop and bluegrass to bring everyone in the audience to their feet.
And then, on Saturday, we all came together to decide on our platform, First Principles of the Civic Renewal Movement, which will inform our trajectory in the year ahead. We heard from Braver Angels volunteers and leaders alike about what they appreciated — and what they wanted changed — in our platform. And after much deliberation, we ended up passing it by a vote of 265 to 1, with 18 abstentions.
After all that, we can only be left feeling wiped out and full of gratitude.
There’s no denying the amount of energy we felt — and we hope everyone felt — over those four important days. For the past couple of years, we’ve been talking and writing about building a movement, but now, thanks to everyone who was there, we began to experience it.
So, thank you to everyone who traveled far and wide to make this convention — and those who took the extra distance outside their comfort zones. Bridging the partisan divide is hard — sometimes really hard — but when we do it, magic happens.
Now, the real work begins. Whether you were at the convention or not, we’re challenging you to Rise for America and join our national campaign for civic renewal.