Transpartisan Note #146
by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner
Last week, The Fulcrum, a new democracy project from the Bridge Alliance, announced an upcoming expansion of their website and daily newsletter and, with it, a new transpartisan column, Beyond Right & Left, to be written by Fulcrum contributors Mark Gerzon and Chris Gates. We’re excited to witness The Fulcrum’s rapid growth and want to congratulate Mark and Chris for taking on the daunting task of writing about issues from a transpartisan perspective.
From everything we know about their plan, we think The Fulcrum, working with thought leaders like Mark and Chris, can only strengthen the transpartisan movement at a time when the mainstream political debate desperately needs new ideas, seeking new paths to bring people together and solve real problems.
The co-authors introduced their column in powerful terms:
Our column . . . will bring a passionately transpartisan perspective to the conversation. We use the word ‘transpartisan’ with full intentionality here. We hope to talk about issues in a way that explicitly transcends the old way our country thinks and talks about the issues of democracy and divides.
They are very clear about what they will NOT do:
We don’t intend to balance perspectives on the left with perspectives on the right, which is an often-used frame for a ‘bi-partisan’ conversation. Instead we hope to bring a fresh point of view that explicitly calls into question the old, and in our minds outdated, political spectrum of ‘Left-Center-Right’. While traditionalists can tie themselves into knots as they debate where they and their opponents stand on that divisive, one-dimensional map, our experience tells us that more and more people are rejecting that type of simplistic labeling. As former Senator Bill Bradley famously said, almost no one wakes up in the morning thinking about where their lives and points of view sit on that spectrum. Our experience bears that out.
Both Chris and Mark bring long and powerful experiences in initiatives to strengthen American democracy. Chris has led three national organizations, the National Civic League, Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement, and the Sunlight Foundation. He has advised many nonprofits and foundations on issues related to democracy reform, and he has widely spoken about democratic theory and philanthropic practices.
As president of the Mediators Foundation, Mark has helped launch many bridge-building activities; and he has also written several books on ways to understand and address the growing polarization in American politics, including A House Divided: Six Belief Systems Struggling for America’s Soul and The Reunited States: How We Can Bridge the Partisan Divide.
The timing of their launch is fortuitous in relation to several activities we at The Transpartisan Review have recently initiated with new partners. The most important among them, we think, involves sharpening understanding of the role the transpartisan movement can play in the larger political arena.
We think the mainstream political debate has been so degraded that we need to expand our mission beyond the current arguments. We must include issues and interested parties that current politics ignores or marginalizes. We think these issues and parties, though hidden, may nevertheless be crucial to bring people together and solve problems that have shown themselves resistant to conventional reform. We especially look forward to opportunities for exchanging and debating ideas in ways that we expect will be unique and will, over time, attract new, interested parties to the transpartisan political movements taking shape locally, nationally, and globally.