By Crystal Miller, Kenosha News
I am a conservative. I am not ashamed of it. In fact, I’m proud of my beliefs. However, it has become difficult to talk about it for fear of being disregarded, rejected or dismissed.
I have a deep commitment to my community, and I work in an industry that has long been governed by people who generally have more liberal views than I do.
My perspective is valuable, especially as I balance the business side with the social work angle. A lot of the work that I enjoy as an industry leader is policy advocacy work for regulations and funding, but recently I have felt “less than appreciated” when I point out some wins that conservatives have led in these areas.
At one point, it was even suggested that I may not be a fit to moderate a legislative roundtable because it might appear that I was too thankful for the funding that Gov. Scott Walker and conservatives achieved. That day I determined to learn more about communicating well, continuing to embrace my conservative values in addition to the practice of loving others.
It shouldn’t have to be this way and it doesn’t have to be this way. That’s where Braver Angels comes in.
Braver Angels is an organization uniting Red and Blue Americans in a working alliance to depolarize America. It is based on the value of love for others and that each of us can contribute in meaningful conversation, even if we don’t agree. That concept appealed to me.
I attended a Braver Angels skills workshop, facilitated by Cameron Swallow. She did a great job of helping the room learn techniques for sharing our views and listening to the views of others. It appeared that people were intrigued by this way of thinking. It was clear that there is a desire to have meaningful conversations and be open to listening.
In my work the last few months of promoting Braver Angels, it appears that “Reds” are apathetic to this movement. I believe that it is spurred by the belief that “Blues” don’t want to listen, so why would this be worth it?
I believe that 50% of our nation supports President Trump and his policies, but 45% of people would rather not discuss it. It may be because the media consistently tells us (Reds) that our ideas don’t have merit. I wouldn’t go so far to say that Reds are ashamed of their views, but certainly many would prefer to vote but not discuss it.
I think that some of it stems from not knowing how to communicate it well. With the media so often portraying Republicans as “stupid” or not educated, is it possible that people are tired of dispelling that untruth? Perhaps many Republicans just start thinking it’s not worth talking about.
Why fight, seemingly without wins, against the sentiment that appears to be held by so many? Conservatives must remember that this sentiment is driven by the media. It only feels pervasive, more likely our neighbors don’t actually feel this way.
It is my hope that the Reds in Racine and Kenosha Counties will participate in Braver Angels. I am excited about what this movement can mean for our community. A time-honored concept is that relationships fuel healthy living.
Better relationships with our neighbors through strong communication, especially when we learn to be real, vulnerable and true to what we believe is winning for sure. The Braver Angels movement is built on trust and that is something that I’m excited to build.
I am reminded of the thought-provoking quote attributed to President Abraham Lincoln: “I don’t like that man; I must get to know him better.” This was true then and it is true now. Braver Angels is a wonderful way to bring this concept to life in southeast Wisconsin.
Crystal Miller is an entrepreneur who serves on the leadership teams of several nonprofits and enjoys the impact that her efforts have in making Wisconsin a better place to live and work. She is the president and an owner of Frontida Assisted Living.