Issue #2 – The Transpartisan Effect

We are proud to share the second issue of The Transpartisan Review, a digital journal of politics, society, and culture, exploring the apparent disintegration of the traditional political, social and cultural order from a transpartisan point of view. We introduce Volume I Issue 2 of The Transpartisan Review as hyper-partisan battles rage. In this issue, we explore how broad ideas and social forces are shaping our political institutions and our choice of leaders, including President Donald Trump.

One strand of the contemporary American narrative holds the current President responsible as the chief cause of the daily chaos in our politics. We contend that the upheaval stems, rather, from deeper social forces, within which the President plays the role of an effect at least as much as that of a cause. We go deeper into our four-quadrant Transpartisan Matrix, suggesting that these driving social forces continue to push people on both the left and the right toward “freedom” and away from “order.” These forces, we believe, reflect the continuing “individuation” of human beings that is characteristic of modern technologically-advanced societies, primarily, but not solely, in the West. Highly individuated people feel increasingly constrained by, disenchanted with, and alienated from highly bureaucratic and centralized economic, political, and cultural institutions.

Download Now: Transpartisan Review, Issue Two

THE TRANSPARTISAN EFFECT

A Note from the Editors, A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

Today, July 31, 2017 (Day 192 in the presidency of Donald Trump) we welcome you to “The Transpartisan Effect,” an exploration of the remarkable time of change in which we are living. The present is a transitional phase between the extended post-war period of the last century and the emerging world of the 21st. Our unsettled, roiling politics reflects tensions among competing social and cultural forces. These forces push toward deep changes in the relationship between citizens and governments, and toward major reforms in our political institutions. It is a moment of great danger, but also of immense opportunity.

The past 192 days—Donald Trump’s first six months in office—highlight both the dangers and the opportunities of this time of social and political flux. Following through on his campaign promises, the Trump administration is challenging the widely-shared traditional assumptions underlying both the content and the process of making policy, foreign as well as domestic. On international issues, he is moving away from the post-World War II “internationalist” consensus. In the domestic arena, he is reversing longstanding trends in health, education, the environment, and other policy areas. The central theme in both spheres is withdrawal of the state and increasing emphasis on private/individual authority and action.

Apart from his policy agenda, the President’s governing style strains the patience and credulity of all who have come to expect a more “presidential” performance. Yet, perhaps not surprisingly, Mr. Trump appears to have retained the support of many Americans who are deeply alienated from traditional politics. This helps explain why thus far there is scant evidence that the Democrats have yet to benefit from his markedly unconventional behavior.

But making sense of the current turmoil requires appreciating just how weak support for the President actually is. Candidate Trump received electoral support from fewer than 30 percent of eligible voters. The prevailing “narrative” of political news reporting and commenting—that “40 percent” of American voters supported the President—thus greatly exaggerates his real “base.” Significantly, this misleading figure is not unique to Trump; it characterized Obama’s base, and would have misrepresented support for Hillary Clinton’s presidency as well, since the votes actually cast for her represented just 28 percent of the eligible voters.

The electorate’s concerns and priorities, we should note, have changed considerably over the past seventy years as a consequence of unprecedented social and economic conditions. The most important of these changes may be the decline of historically-important sources of adversity—especially major wars and depressions—which invited or required large-scale, centralized solutions. The desire for “order” is never far from the surface of people’s attention. At least three new threats may incite the demand for collective solutions necessary to preserve or restore order. Terrorism, though it inflicts the most damage locally, strikes (as it is intended to) at people’s primal need for safety, security, and predictability.  Extreme and volatile weather might also resurrect collective responses, if predicted effects of climate change turn out to be correct. Individuals and local communities may be overwhelmed and unable to manage without assistance from outside. Finally, as recent developments in North Korea remind us, the threat of nuclear weapons has not gone away—indeed, it may be growing—and it is hard to see how a decentralized response could be effective.

The revolution in technology has propelled new generations into a world that both reflects and demands the continuing individuation of persons.  More than half the population is now under thirty years of age. Instant global communication is more likely to swell the numbers of people demanding the freedom to exercise greater control over their lives than to generate vast constituencies wanting more centralized decision-making.

Even though the earth’s populations seem headed down the path to ever-greater individuation and freedom, “order” (connectedness, community, stability, peace, justice, etc.) remains essential to their happiness. The puzzle of how to construct a new balance between freedom and order in a fast-changing world is already being addressed by people constructing new institutions and practices that emphasize individual self-governance. Successful experiments in public school reform, alcohol and drug rehabilitation, the liberation of women and girls in traditional societies, and similar developments are spreading almost as fast as the news of their effectiveness and popularity.

Several of the articles in this issue address the need for institutional and policy reform in response to the challenges raised by advancing individuation. Our advisor Ralph Benko offers an ingenious suggestion for grass-roots organizing. Edgar Feige revisits his innovative (and, in our view, drastically under-considered) proposal for supplementing or even eliminating income taxes. Jack Matlock, U.S. Ambassador to the U.S.S.R. during the crucial period from 1987 to 1991, offers his thoughts concerning what he views as the distracting preoccupation with Russia’s involvement in the presidential campaign. Pete Peterson, Dean of the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and 2016 Republican candidate for California Secretary of State, suggests that “while there’s some truth in the contention that the relationship between citizens and government has broken down completely, the fact is that our relationship with government is ‘merely’ changing. That’s a good thing… .” Lynne Twist and Lawry Chickering report on the results of a Living Room Conversation they co-hosted, bringing together three “conservatives” and three “progressives” on a transpartisan journey to imagine how to bring the country together again. (MoveOn.org co-founder Joan Blades founded LRC.)

Finally, we are pleased to note that the Transpartisan Review has been placed in the category rated “least biased” by Media Bias/Fact Check.

[“Least-biased”] sources have minimal bias and use very few loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes). The reporting is factual and usually sourced. These are the most credible media sources. …Transpartisan Review (TR), founded by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner, is an online magazine for the transpartisan political belief. Akin to Third Way politics and centrism in some respects, transpartisan politics eschews a left or right view and promotes cooperation from all sides—left, right, center, etc.—with the goal of finding solutions instead. The articles in TR are factual and well sourced, and the only bias evident is towards the transpartisan belief. (D. Kelley)

We hope you find reading our second issue rewarding, and we look forward to any and all comments you might have.

1 comment

  1. I hope to continue receiving your Transpartisan Review. It provided intellectual thought and ideas expressed clearly so I can relate and understand a path for answers. I completely agree with your points of individuation and it’s results when looking at both the big picture and the future. How to pull us into constsructive face to face dialogue, discussion and conversation is so critical during these times.

    I hope to learn more in your future reviews about effective action and am going to forward this to others. Thank you!

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