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Political Conflicts During the 2020 Election

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Conflict Resolution Institute

The Role of Conflict Resolution Practitioners

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By Emily Krizmanich, CRI Staff, MA '21.

The last few months of 2020 have been challenging but provided insight into areas for growth. We are learning more about ourselves and our neighbors than previously thought, and the year is nowhere near over. The 2020 presidential election in the United States is sure to be a battleground of ideologies and perspectives. With many political and social crises on our hands, conflict resolution practitioners and mediators will continue to play a critical role. An article by Kenneth Cloke at, titled "Mediation, Neutrality, Political Conflicts, and the 2020 Elections," delves into the political crises of the 2020 elections and the increasingly important role of conflict resolution practitioners.

The 2020 election is gearing up to be one that highlights political and social crises near and dear to many people's hearts. From social conflict over racial inequality to climate change issues and a Supreme Court nomination, America will be voting not just for a president, but for a future path unlike any we have seen. The extreme polarization within government and the country has turned hot button issues into something much greater. According to Cloke:

"Polarization, in every conflict, is a sign that we are approaching a crossroads, a definitive choice, a point of departure. It is a signal that something deep, fundamental, and systemic has already been born; that the past is over, yet the future is uncertain and insecure; and that confusion, nostalgia, resistance, and fear of loss are intensifying in an effort to reverse course and return to a world that no longer exists, and can no longer exist."

With all this in mind, what roles do conflict resolution practitioners, especially those in mediation and peacebuilding, have in the 2020 election? It is simple: everything. Cloke explores how the training of conflict resolution practitioners is unique through their goals to resolve conflict, not just talk about it. With emotional and often controversial topics, practitioners must overcome the resistance of many and bridge both sides so that they may get perspective on the other. Practitioners must hone their skills and apply them to difficult situations and debates, just like that of the 2020 election.

In the coming months, it is critical to have mediators, peacebuilding experts, and conflict resolution practitioners facilitating conversations and working to bridge the polarization gap. Practitioners are needed before the election to bridge connections and views, but these experts will also be needed regardless of the outcome of November 3rd, 2020. We will continue to need the skills and ability of conflict resolution practitioners to facilitate, understand, and ultimately see different perspectives in a safe environment, especially with the political and social crises we all face. political conflicts