AP NEWS

‘Purple’ discussion lets Houston-area voters find common ground

October 10, 2018

After the recent Supreme Court hearings and the fierce debate between United States senators, Heights resident Dawn Adams Cole decided to begin bridging the gap between Democrats and Republicans.

She and her husband Burton Cole hosted a “purple” political discussion group and dinner Tuesday, Oct. 2, at their home. The small event brought together about 14 Americans of both red and blue political persuasions and allowed them to dialog about issues the nation faces like health care, education, gun violence and the great division between today’s two major political parties.

Adams Cole said for different reasons, she saw the humanity in the testimonies of both Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, but she grew discouraged at the divisive words of senators on both sides of the aisle.

“When the senators came on board, that’s when I just completely pivoted and thought, ‘What a juxtaposition from such raw humanity we saw to such tribalism.’ It was just like vitriolic tribalism, and there was no seeking to understand, and it drove me crazy. I thought, ‘Surely, someone’s got to see it like this, that where’s the humanity?’”

Seeing a lot more conflict about the subject on Facebook, she created a post inviting people to a discussion where they could hash out some of their differences in front of one another in a civil, respectful environment.

“I want people to reclaim the idea that you can talk about politics. For so long, you can’t talk about politics, you can’t talk about sex, you can’t talk about these things, and we need to be able to talk about them,” Adams Cole said.

While most of the people at the discussion leaned to the left politically, Patty Simpson called herself a “token Republican” and said she wanted fiscal responsibility but also wanted women to have the ability to choose what they do with their bodies.

Simpson said she understands how politicians’ actions can lead to voting apathy.

“Really, I am a more moderate. I think I am anyway because I think there is so much not good on both sides,” Simpson said. “I can see why people stay away from the polls because they can’t — which evil do you vote for — because I think we could talk about every candidate that’s out there, and they all do buffoonish, selfish, corrupt things. And it’s very frustrating.”

Erica Courtenay-Mann grew up in the “political machine” of Chicago, and said her father would make her read the political section of the newspaper every Sunday. She voiced concerns that the nation’s next great leaders might never reach that point because their schools lack adequate funding or that a person would not survive cancer because he or she could not pay for mammogram.

Courtenay-Mann said she wishes people could see that a Republican who is for families, jobs and less government is not that far off from a Democrat who is for quality education for his children, health care and women’s rights.

“So I want to know how can we get that guy in the Appalachian Mountains and that guy in a Chicago two-flat to understand that they’re still Americans. They’re still fellow Americans, and their viewpoints are not that different,” Courtenay-Mann said.

Adams Cole plans to hold another purple discussion in early November, just before the elections. She encouraged her guests to come again and bring someone else along next time that could share a viewpoint different than their own.

“I know today was the first step, but again like I said earlier, we’ve broken bread, and you break the ice of discussion. You just continue to grow because the issues will continue coming,” she said. “It’s almost like today is just setting the foundation and bringing new people into the fold.”

tracy.maness@hcnonline.com

AP RADIO
Update hourly