Editor's note: This story contains language that may be offensive.
Eight Republicans and eight Democrats are seated at long tables in a nondescript community room in a conservative Texas town, with the ambitious assignment of restoring civility in America. Or at least their sliver of it.
They volunteered to come out on a chilly night in February to engage in respectful conversations in hopes of building one small bridge across America's partisan abyss.
Here in La Grange — situated on the rolling prairie between Austin and Houston — folks voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. During the campaign, there were raucous Trump trains honking and hollering in the historic courthouse square. Since the election, MAGA is still potent here. The countryside is dotted with epithets like "F*** Biden" and "Impeach Crazy Joe." Letters to the editor have gotten incendiary.
This so-called Red/Blue Workshop is put on by a nonprofit called Braver Angels that stages encounters and debates all over the country as a way to reduce political polarization. It's one of hundreds of local and national groups that have popped up in recent years to try to heal America's toxic divisions. The formula is simple: invite political opposites to sit down, talk civilly and listen to each other. But with the nation facing such deep and bitter polarization, is that enough?