Thanks to our members for over 150 e-mails about how our
organization should proceed after the election… here are some representative
selections of what you all said:

“After many fierce arguments with people from both the red
and blue states prior to election night, I feel that the great hardship is in
the ideological divide between the two groups, and the generalizations and
misconceptions spread against each. Not all the red voters shall we call them
are christian fundamentalists/extremists and not all blue voters are tree
hugging anti-americans. The issues at hand go much deeper than these surface
generalizations, and the negative campaigning that occurred did nothing to help
this divide. Also, I think it important to make Americans aware of how the rest
of the world really views us. Many Britons for example are as divided about the
issue of war as we are, where most Americans believe the British dislike what
we stand for. A greater global perspective beyond the stereotypes and the
closed-minded American viewpoint is necessary. If not, examples such as the
Freedom Fries will continue to surface, making a mockery of the democracy many
of us cherish. There is no disloyalty to one’s self or to one’s country in
opening one’s mind to different viewpoints, especially not to those that
contradict one’s."

“The group overview listed the conferences that AID has set
up and it involved the best ways to talk about culture and policy such as the
Hearts and Minds conference, but I haven’t seen anything that has dealt with
the field or practical expertise. To put democracy at a political level and not
a personal level takes the humanity out of it and its cause becomes lost. My
suggestion is having a dialogue that involves humanitarian personnel and NGO
personnel to share and discuss challenges, successes, the future, and current
operations within in the world. These men and women will be affected by US
foreign policy very directly and represent the faces that a stricken country
will see and react to.”

“What about something like: Back to the Basics America has always
been known as the land of ‘peace’ ‘freedom’ and ‘prosperity’; these are broad
‘motherhood and apple pie’ type goals that any American would support working
toward. And they are inextricably tied up with our reputation in the world –
they are how we would hope other nations to see us, and they are exactly how we
are not currently being seen. So maybe the way to go on the theme would be
something kind of grand along these lines and then tie in smaller issues under
it: i.e. Do you want America to be and be seen as the land of ‘peace’ ‘freedom’
and ‘prosperity’? Well both domestic and international governmental actions are
detracting from that…and that could lead to a whole litany of policy topics
to be discussed at once or part of the series falling under the larger theme.”

“I would only say in response to your question regarding how
we might promote mutual understanding as an organization is that we would need
to somehow facilitate open dialogues and debates on concrete topics that
concern both colors of the country, but are often seen in split perspectives.
How might that be possible? Post invitations to bi-weekly dinners in which key
speakers from (or representing) both sides of the issue lead a discussion on
how a hot topic can be looked at differently. Also, I think it’s good to keep
in mind that the nation has always been quite politically divided. It’s only
the election of a highly contested wartime president that is airing those
differences publicly for all to see more clearly."


“Face to face political discussions are a very difficult
thing to navigate productively. Often such conversations seem as if the widen
the gap of misunderstanding. I believe that it doesn`t have to be this way. I
believe that with open minds, tactics for discussion, and practice we can make
political discussions lead us to constructive dialogue and action. On this
point I am very excited to learn from you and others in the organization. I am
committed to having an open mind, but I realize that when I talk to friends who
hold much different perspectives than I, I really don`t respect their views
much more than they do mine. I want to grow in this area… Also, I look forward
to fomenting dialogue between the republican and democratic student groups on
campus when I get back to UCLA; but, more than that I hope we can find ways to
bring people from across the country together. I`ve noticed lately how little
my Californian friends and I know about people from the rest of the country, and
I think it would be very helpful to bring people from different regions
together. I understand that there are more physical obstacles to these kind of
summits but I hope that we can make some progress in bridging both the
ideological and geographical gap.”