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Burying the hatchet
Disagree Better initiative can bring us together
Tragic Prelude
Tragic Prelude is a mural painted by Kansan John Steuart Curry for the Kansas State Capitol building in Topeka, Kansas.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, on Tuesday announced their participation in the National Governors Association’s Disagree Better initiative. Both governors met for lunch to discuss areas of common ground as well as how to “disagree better.”

Launched in July, Disagree Better is a national yearlong gubernatorial initiative to help Americans learn the skills of healthy conflict. The effort aims to change the political behavior of both voters and elected officials, showing that the right kind of conflict often leads to better policy, can be more successful politically than negative campaigning, and is the pathway to restoring trust in our political institutions. 

“Getting things done doesn’t just require working across state lines – it also requires working across party lines,” Kelly said. “That’s how Gov. Parson and I have together grown the economy of the entire Kansas City region.” 

They joined the initiative because they, and probably most of the rest of us, agree now is the time to turn down the volume on our national political conversation. Finding productive ways to overcome differences is the only way we can make progress as two states and as a country. 

“It’s important to us to work together with our peers in Kansas to support the growth of the entire Kansas City Region,” Parson said. In 2019, they came together to end the Kansas City Border War and to support the relocation of two key USDA agencies to Kansas City. In 2021, they collaborated on the National Security Crossroads initiative. 

“While there are plenty of things we do agree on, we understand that there are plenty that we don’t, too. As the 2024 election cycle heats up, we want to show the people of Missouri and Kansas that even when we disagree, we can disagree better,” he said.

This is a big hatchet to bury.

First, the two state leaders hail from opposite sides of the political aisle. Second is Mizzou. And lastly, there is the whole sacking of Lawrence thing.

Still, governors Kelly and Parson encourage Americans to find common ground where possible and agree to disagree better.

We live in a  highly politically charged and polarized time. But, despite the rhetoric from political mouthpieces, we are all Americans trying to make a living and find our happy places.

Locally, we are, for the most part, tolerant of different political points of view. We even allow Missourians to live here.

It is hoped this initiative ignites like a Flint Hills controlled burn. It’s a big ask, but this sort of cooperation is the what our nation needs now more than ever.

— Dale Hogg