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Transpartisan Note #56

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Possibilities for Transpartisan Governance

Transpartisan Note #56

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

In Note #54 we introduced the Centrist Project. This group promotes cooperation and collaboration among state legislators. It seeks out sitting legislators willing to declare independence from current parties and willing candidates to run as independents. They expect Independents to use their leverage to reduce conflict in politics.

The Centrist Project aims to get a minimum of five Independent legislators into each state legislative house across the country and in the US House and Senate. It believes these Independents—we might call them Transpartisans—can use their strategic positions to reduce partisan conflict and promote bipartisan or transpartisan legislative action.

Here are some of our thoughts on achieving this objective: 

First, concentrating force wins wars. The Centrist Project follows this principle by concentrating first on the state of Colorado. This focus gives the energetic Colorado transpartisan community a goal for effective action. It creates the opportunity to build a model for other states and Congress.

Second, finding five or more Independent legislators—by conversion or election—works best if the assembled group comes from diverse political backgrounds. Sitting members from ‘safe’ districts offer the most enticing prospects. Working through key donors can be particularly effective.

Most importantly, we believe, recruiting with policy proposals aligned with our Four-Quadrant Transpartisan Matrix and focusing on issues of special interest to prospects can be especially powerful.

The Matrix shows both Democrats and Republicans split between ‘freedom’ and ‘order’ factions. Understanding individual legislators’ places on the Matrix allows recruiters of potential Independent legislators to appeal both to their immediate prospects and to people in other quadrants. Five or more Independents in a legislature broadens the policy playing field for new ideas and offers ‘cover’ (broader space for political action) for legislators who remain in their parties as partisans.

In Beyond Left and Right, Lawry Chickering, a conservative, told of approaching radical black lawyers about financing legal services for the poor. He proposed that instead of paying poverty lawyers from outside affected communities in effect to take clients from private lawyers, the government should pay the clients and let them choose their own lawyers.

This empowerment strategy would allow the indigenous bar to work for local clients who need help. Even the most radical black lawyers were indifferent to the fact that Lawry developed this idea working for conservative Governor Ronald Reagan. They responded to the empowerment vision behind this transpartisan proposal.

In The Chemical Feast: The Nader Report on food protection at the FDA, Jim Turner, a liberal/progressive, told of consumer initiatives that over time led to Congressionally-adopted policies such as Organic Food Production, Nutrition Labeling, and the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).

Conservatives and progressives such as Senators Orrin Hatch, Tom Harkin, Richard Lugar and Patrick Leahy championed these initiatives, which passed Congress with robust bipartisan support. Each of these initiatives created citizen/consumer empowerment programs that support individual people making personal choices that fit their specific needs and resources. They exemplify transpartisan.

This is a very large subject, which we explore in Voice of the People: The Transpartisan Imperative in American Life, our book on a transpartisan politics, our weekly Notes, and The Transpartisan Review.

As the Centrist Project and others seeking legislators and candidates to get Independents into power (or anyone considering office as an Independent) look for policy guidelines, we urge them to use The Transpartisan Matrix. It is a tool to help find policies that advance people’s desires for freedom and choice in a framework of security and order.

Transpartisan Note #55

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The Centrist Project Meets the Washington Press

Transpartisan Note #55

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, an Independent and former Republican, and Byron Mallott, his Democratic rival, debated each other so many times that they got to be allies. “We discovered that we liked our state a whole lot more than we liked politics,” Walker told a Washington, D.C. press conference on July 12. “So we did something that you don’t typically do in politics. We combined our campaigns.” They won. Walker is Governor, and Mallot is Lieutenant Governor.

The Centrist Project, which seeks to bridge the growing partisan divide in government by strategically electing Independent, centrist candidates to office, hosted the conference, which we attended. At the conference they presented four Independents, Governor Walker, state Sen. David Johnson (IA), and state Reps. Owen Casás (ME) and Jason Grenn (AK) for #IndependentsDay in the nation’s capital. They got good press:

Roll Call: On building the infrastructure necessary to compete with the two parties: “The biggest problem is that voters only invest time and resources in Independents if they believe the candidates can win,” said Project Executive Director Nick Troianao. “The Centrist Project aims to overcome these challenges by providing support to Independents,” he added.

Inside Sources: On the takeover by independents in Alaskan politics: “As a result of a compromise ironed out by Grenn and his colleagues, moderate Republicans, Independents, and some Democrats have come together to form a centrist coalition to lead the lower house that is facing down the more conservative state Senate in the state’s high-stakes fiscal negotiations.”

The Hill: Owen Casás and Jason Grenn, two of the Independent legislators at the press conference, wrote: “We live on opposite sides of the country—one of us in Maine, the other in Alaska—but we each serve as state legislators in the center of our increasingly polarized politics. We’re both Independents. We’re both millennials with young families. And like many across the country, we’re frustrated with both major parties and the state of our dysfunctional politics.”

Real Clear Politics: On the Centrist Project’s “fulcrum” strategy: “Imagine a U.S. Senate with five or six Independent members, which would deny both major political parties an outright majority and give said coalition a large amount of power.”

Imagine the same in each state legislative assembly across the nation. Or even in the U.S. House of Representatives. Note this May 7, 2017, news about the Problem Solvers Caucus, an outgrowth, according to the Washington Post, of the No Labels organization, whose motto is: “Stop fighting. Start fixing.”

In a May 3, 2017 press release, Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chairs Republican Tom Reed and Democrat Josh Gottheimer “announced a first win… get[ting] the FY17 funding bill passed… The Caucus’ support of the bill was the result of the 40 Members of Congress, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, working together.”

The Centrist Project’s ultimate goal is to elect 3-5 Centrist candidates to the U.S. Senate, where they can deny both parties an outright majority and, as a crucial swing coalition, use their political leverage to force both sides back to the center and forge common ground policy solutions.  Their initial effort is to begin with state legislatures, with an intense 2018 focus on Colorado.

While they call their project “centrist,” we suggest that, to the extent they integrate rather than balance the party differences on any given issue, they act more as transpartisans than bipartisans. They embrace bipartisan and transcend it to a new policy position different from that of either party. All these efforts underscore a political process that is expanding to embrace transpartisan initiatives that we report on. They are a hopeful sign for a maturing political process.

 

Transpartisan Note #54

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Independents Day

Transpartisan Note #54

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

Today we present The Centrist Project’s announcement of its first Washington, DC press conference…

Independent elected officials from across the country will join together for the first time in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, July 12, for an ‘Independents Day’ event organized by The Centrist Project.

The group of Independents will participate in a news conference at the National Press Club at 10:00 a.m. to describe how they are playing a unique role in bringing both political parties together to solve pressing challenges and in growing the Independents’ movement to impact national governance.

Participants include:

  • Governor Bill Walker (I-AK)
  • State Senator David Johnson (I-IA)
  • State Representative Jason Grenn (I-AK)
  • State Representative Owen Casás (I-ME)

In Alaska, two independent state representatives helped flip control of the state house for the first time in decades from the GOP to a new ‘bipartisan governing majority’—comprised of several moderate Republicans and the House Democratic Caucus. The bipartisan governing majority has been instrumental in putting forward balanced and bipartisan proposals to address the state’s historic budget deficits.

In Maine, since two independent state representatives were elected in 2016, three incumbent state representatives—one Republican and two Democrats—dropped their party affiliation. Now, neither party controls an outright majority in the Maine state house. The Independents have been outspoken in advocating for structural political reform, including protecting a Ranked Choice Voting ballot measure passed by Maine voters last year.

In Iowa, State Senator David Johnson became the first serving Independent legislator in 45 years after he left the Republican Party in June of 2016.  He acted during his fourth term as an objection to Donald Trump’s campaign. ‘I am feeling more comfortable with my votes than I ever have,’ Johnson recently told The Des Moines Register.

Independent voters now comprise the largest and fastest growing segment of the American electorate, at 40% as of May 2017 according to Gallup. This figure is significantly higher among millennial voters.

In France, a new centrist, independent* movement (‘La République En Marche’) recently propelled a first-time candidate to the Presidency and a near super-majority of Parliamentary candidates into office. With a majority of voters holding an unfavorable view of both political parties in the United States, according to Pew Research, many political observers speculate that a similar movement can take hold in America.

The Centrist Project is a national organization that seeks to bridge the partisan divide in government by promoting centrist, independent leadership and policies that put ‘We, the people’ before any party or special interest. For more information, please visit www.CentristProject.org.

We at The Transpartisan Review see left, right and other collaborations such as these springing up across the country and around the world as an expression of the Transpartisan Imperative.

Powerful subjective and objective forces drive these efforts and point to new political forms to express our democratic impulses. On July 17 we will post Vol. I, Issue 2 of the Transpartisan Review. Read it for some ideas for new forms of organization.

Our times offer great opportunity for innovation.

*En Marche! considers every person who submits identification information (date of birth, email, full address, and telephone number) and adheres to the party’s charter to be an adherent. Unlike other political parties, it does not require adherents to make a monetary donation. Emmanuel Macron has indicated that it is possible to adhere to En Marche! while remaining a member of “another republican party.” (Wikipedia)

 

Transpartisan Review Note #53

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Trump as “Disrupter”

Transpartisan Note #53

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

We have been musing along the following lines: Among all criticisms of President Trump, the most common is his apparently unbreakable habit of sending provocative tweets that often conflict with and disturb efforts to advance his developing policy agenda.

Such criticisms are constantly repeated, and they all rest on the same assumption: that Donald Trump is stupid because he is choosing actions (tweeting) that are undermining objectives he cares more about (his policy agenda). Although it is hard to defend Trump’s Twitter habit from any perspective related to traditional politics, in this Note we look at his actions based on three assumptions: a) he is not stupid; b) he is not crazy; and c) he cares about more than his policy agenda. In this context tweeting is important to him to accomplish more than policy—he afflicts the comfortable.

Although he was critical of Trump during the campaign, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed a positive insight about him this spring in calling him a “disrupter.” The political environment, Gates said, can get pretty calcified; and sometimes a disrupter can accomplish things that others cannot. Order out of chaos.

Disruption is a negative word, and it is hard to think how it can be part of any positive agenda. Its power comes from being entirely negative. How can Trump be understood as anything except a disruptor while tolerating contradictions such as those from associates – Cabinet Secretaries or Jared Kushner – softening and reinterpreting harsh tweets (which the White House insists are official declarations) to foreign leaders? The tweets are disruptive, keeping things churned up, nothing more.

Protesting otherwise, critics try to understand Trump as a traditional President or urge him to become one. What positive outcomes can be imagined from disruption?

One positive outcome for Trump personally is that he gets to do what he knows. He knows nothing about being President, but he knows how to host a reality television show. What greater impact than disruption is his decision to host a reality show out of the Oval Office?

When the President doesn’t know how to “lead,” what is the principal effect of his reality show disruptions? It empowers other parties, whether in Congress, who must pass tax reform, replace Obamacare, or create numerous other policy initiatives. It also empowers leaders of other countries in global affairs, who must “step up” and act on a basis more equal with the U.S. than before.

Washington elites have absolutely howled their displeasure at what they see as Presidential abdication of responsibilities on both domestic and global issues. What possible order can be imagined (they seem to be saying) without the hegemon as leader, managing and directing all of the children, whether in Congress or in international forums? Would it really be so terrible if power and authority were shared in genuine equality with our European allies so they contributed their fair share, and not just in money, for common defense, as all recent Presidents have called for?

Strong Presidential leadership would allow the Republicans, who control both houses, to pass bills over Democrats’ unanimous opposition. Why should we applaud continuation of such unstable polarization?  Voices are now starting to be heard that Trump’s “abdication” may push Democrats and Republicans to work together to pass a health reform bill.

While so far looking unlikely, why is that prospect seen to be so terrible?

If forced to work together, they may discover innovative transpartisan possibilities for effective policy, some of which are described in The Transpartisan Review Vol. I, No.1, which was published on Inauguration Day, and Vol. I, No. 2, which will be available later this month.

Transpartisan Review Note #52

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Matrix: Broadening the Left/Right Spectrum

Transpartisan Note #52

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat usefully introduces a matrix into his analysis of American politics (“In Search of the American Center,” NYT 6/21/17). He reports on a study by the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group and a report by Lee Drutman assessing voter sentiment.

Drutman arrays data on voters in a matrix, with economic issues on the horizontal axis and social/identity issues on the vertical axis.

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Matrix by Lee Drutman from his report “Political Divisions in 2016 and Beyond”.

Douthat includes welfare, entitlements, trade and inequality on the economic axis and abortion and transgender rights, race, gender, immigration and Islam on the vertical, which he calls moral and Drutman calls social, identity axis.

Drutman’s matrix presents a more limited picture of the U.S. political system and of transpartisan political opportunities than we present in our Transpartisan Matrix (left/right and freedom/order axes).

The Democracy Fund/Drutman data and Douthat’s commentary see a static world, with passive citizens voting on how they want active governments to influence economic and social/identity issues. This matrix focuses only on voters; it ignores the 44% age-eligible citizens who opt out of voting.

Drutman’s matrix does not explain why people avoid the two major parties (there are now more registered Independents than either Democrats or Republicans; the number of registered Independents and nonvoters combined exceeds the number of Democrats and Republicans combined).

If Drutman’s picture adequately described peoples’ values, it would need to explain why neither major candidate and party is able to garner more than 25 to 30% of age-eligible citizens. It does well capturing voters, but poorly describing the totality of the electorate, which includes the 44% nonvoters.

This matrix leaves out revelations about political and philosophical support for both order (tradition, justice) and freedom (individuation and self-expression). The Drutman matrix leaves social/moral choice of nonvoters to its lower-right quadrant. Douthat is fascinated by this freedom quadrant, which he finds “astonishingly empty. . . .” We believe that the quadrant devoted to freedom alone is empty because freedom (process) has no meaning without a context that includes a vision of order (substance).

Focusing solely on voters the Drutman matrix does not see subjective value in what people want, increasingly desiring free expression and choice when they express that desire for choice by not voting. It sees citizens only as objects—as distinct from all social experiences that are succeeding, which empower citizens as subjects in active roles of citizenship. If people do not vote they do not count—even when not voting is a political statement.

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The Transpartisan Matrix is based on a vision of expanding consciousness or “individuation,” which combines a desire for increased economic and social choice and a vision of order (e.g., in self-governing communities). The Transpartisan Matrix suggests that the widespread alienation from the political system, in effect, rejects weak and passive citizenship. Effective action requires participation from all four quadrants. An empty quadrant spells trouble for governance.

People feel an increasing desire for active citizenship that is found in all successful social models (e.g., the Grameen Bank and community-based education and health projects in the US and many other countries).

Active citizens play increasingly assertive roles in institutions and policies. With all presidential candidates avoiding the issues important to increasingly individuated citizens, the mainstream system perpetuates the alienation and chaos that comes from many of the 44% who do not vote. Their abstention—and the conceptual fact that freedom by itself is meaningless—explain to us the Drutman empty quadrant.

Here is the Transpartisan Matrix. Read more about how it relates to the Democracy Fund/Drutman Matrix in “The Transpartisan Effect” (Vol I, No. 2 of The Transpartisan Review, will be posted here on July 4, 2017).

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)

Transpartisan Review Note #51

Taco Trucks at Every Mosque

Americans Embrace Diversity Locally

Transpartisan Note #51

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

Taco Trucks at Every Mosqueis a celebration of breaking of the fast (iftar) during the month of Ramadan by Orange County, California, Muslim and Latino community members. It took place June 15th at the Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove. Orange County’s OC Weekly reported that a line of fourteen hundred people of all ethnicities and religions formed for halal (fitting Muslim dietary laws) tacos.transpartisan

Muslim activist Rida Hamida and Santa Anna Valley High history teacher Ben Vazquez came up with marking iftar by breaking bread—tortillas—together. Hamida is president of the county’s Arab American Chamber of Commerce. Vazquez is a board member of El Centro Cultural de Mexico. They seek to unite their communities by recalling their shared roots dating to Muslim rule of Spain (circa 711 to 1492).

More Local News

On the evening of June 4, 2017, two Salt Lake City Mormon congregations—the Yale Ward and the Gregson Ward—hosted iftar dinners for their Muslim neighbors, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. These communal meals break the daily fast at sundown during Islam’s observance of Ramadan (May 26-June 24 in 2017). Ramadan is a month of fasting, prayer, scripture study and charity for all devout Muslims.

Area mosques—the Utah Islamic Center, the Islamic Society of Bosniaks, and the Muslim Community Center—enthusiastically supported the event. Those mosques brought such iftar dishes as ‘biryani,’ a spicy mix of rice, meats, dried fruits, eggs and yogurt, and other traditional foods from a range of Muslim ethnicities. Imam Shuaib Din sees sharing iftar with his Mormon neighbors as an important milestone.

Jacksonville, Florida

‘For the first time in Jacksonville’s recent history,’ reports the Florida Union Times, ‘Jews and Muslims came together to celebrate their separate religious holidays in one sanctuary.’ The paper reports Rabbi Jonathan Lubliner and Parvez Ahmed, the event organizers, saying, ‘While local Jews and Muslims have held interfaith events before, they’ve never hosted something as intimate as this.’

Tuesday night marked the beginning of Shavuot, the Jewish holiday celebrating the revelation of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Tuesday night also marked another night, when Muslims break their daily fast for the month of Ramadan in honor of the revelation of the Quran. About 100 people met at the Jacksonville Jewish Center on Tuesday night to study, pray, eat and quiz one another about their faiths.

Across the Country

Haaretz, the Israeli paper published weekly in North America, reports that ‘At a burgeoning number of synagogues across the United States and Europe, observant Muslims are breaking their Ramadan fast in Jewish settings this holy month.’

Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer hosted an iftar dinner in Washington, DC, as did Los Angeles’s Israeli consul general at his office. To be sure, the paper says, ‘Jewish-hosted iftar dinners have happened in some places for several years. But from Berkeley to Brooklyn to Brussels, they’re far more frequent than ever.’

The Salt Lake Tribune summed up the significance of these events, saying ‘Fear, stereotypes, ignorance and hunger have this in common: They seldom survive sharing a meal, honest conversation, a desire to learn and making eye contact with the stranger across the table.’

Personal, local, subjective experience like that, occurring at these events lies at the heart of the transpartisan political impulse. Increasingly, individuals in local communities harness this force.  Increasingly, local individuals sharing intimately together overcome fear, stereotypes, ignorance and . . . spiritual as well as physical hunger.

We look forward to the day when national news outlets prominently feature positive stories like these, which reveal important realities about the country and its emerging transpartisan impulses. Routine ‘narratives’ about the country tend to focus more on divisions than on the productive, creative solutions to those divisions that citizens engage in every day.

(Photo by William Neuheisel and licensed CC Attribution 2.0 Generic.)

Transpartisan Review Note #50

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Transpartisan Europe: A Tale of Two Countries

Transpartisan Note #50

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

“In office, but not in power,” headlined The Telegraph of London on Sunday, June 11. The headline described the situation of British Prime Minister Teresa May. May called the June 8 election to bolster the Conservative party’s Parliamentary majority. Instead the Conservatives lost 13 seats and their majority.

Across the channel in Paris the next day, Reuters reported the French assembly vote saying, “The vote delivered a further crushing blow to the Socialist and conservative parties that had alternated in power for decades until Macron’s election in May blew apart the left-right divide.”

New French President Emmanuel Macron, says Reuters, “professes to be of neither right nor left.” Macron’s year-old party now takes up the task of integrating its supporters who come from both left and right. Meanwhile, back in London, The Telegraph reports that “Tory and Labour MPs plot secret deal to ensure soft Brexit.”

As the left/right division loses its hold on Western democracies, transpartisan possibilities emerge. The partisan divide endured from 1790’s Constituent Assembly seating during the French Revolution (king’s critics left, supporters right) to now. The Economist profile of Macron gives a taste of the emerging Transpartisan effect.

Today’s British and French governing parties, like Trump, got less than 30% of the electorate’s votes. French Historian Jean Garrigues summarized the situation: “There will be rather weak political opposition within the Parliament, but we are going to face it on the street, on the social networks, outside of institutions…And it is always dangerous when political opposition hardens outside of institutions.”

This transpartisan moment calls for resistance and creation. It calls for resisting precipitous collapse of, and gratuitous attacks on, existing institutions. It also calls for creating and nurturing new, resilient, institutions. New institutions that embrace and transcend constricting, unproductive systems rejected by contemporary electorates can give shape to the transpartisan force.

We will publish Vol. I, Issue 2, of the Transpartisan Review on July 4, 2017. It will contain ideas—replacing the income tax for example—that we believe usefully expand the national discourse.  New ideas broaden thinking. Relying solely on old ideas feeds chaos.

(Photos of Theresa May & Emmanual Macron taken from the Wikimedia Commons, CC 2.0/4.0.)

 

Transpartisan Review Note #49

A Comment on Needleman’s American Soul

Transpartisan Note #49

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

Our country’s partisan divide impacts the way we do business, whether we work in commercial, nonprofit, academic, or government programs. The following short article, written with fellow public policy analyst A. Lawrence Chickering, explores one of the many facets of this impact when examined from the “Transpartisan” perspective.transpartisan

The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders (San Francisco State University), Philosophy Professor Jacob Needleman’s 2002 book on the meaning of America, offers insight, solace, and guidance for 2017 Americans.

Professor Needleman sees in the face of Lincoln, the mind of Jefferson, the character of Washington, and the multitude of attributes of the men and women of America’s founding generation the emergence of “the idea of America” leading to “a community of conscience”.

Dr. Needleman’s website says of the book, “At the heart of The American Soul is a call to rediscover the timeless truths hidden within the founding vision of the American nation…this uniquely American vision has the power to speak again to the modern world’s need for meaning and community.”

The book addresses American slavery, the destruction of the culture of the American Indian, and the Vietnam war, which Dr. Needleman calls “crimes and defeats,” saying they “cry out for a clear vision of America asleep to its own spiritual essence, while bringing home the depth of what America owes to its own people and to the earth itself.”

Publishers Weekly said of the book, when it was published in 2002, “While Needleman clearly finds much to love about America, he balances our light with our darkness, our genuine good will and spirituality with our great crimes….Needleman’s latest work gives open-minded readers a new set of spiritual role models and much valuable food for thought….”

We believe that Dr. Needleman captures an essential aspect of what we observe, suggest, and advocate as Transpartisan politics and policy. In particular, we believe that a large majority of the individuals disassociating from current political parties and processes resonate with the deep subjective part of the American essence described by Dr. Needleman. We believe they are searching for ways to express that resonance.

The book closes with a call for rekindling the American mythology, to understand what is truly eternal and indestructible in the American vision. As the transpartisan political process unfolds we believe that its expression is shaped by the essential American vision.

Transpartisan Review Note #48

Introducing Voice for Hope – Healers of Planet Earth

Transpartisan Note #48

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

Voice for HOPE (Healers of Planet Earth), founded in 2010 to support ‘Freedom to Choose Your Path to Wellness,’ works to bring the attention of Congress to the development of integrative medicine as a part of national health care policy.transpartisan

An Atlantic article quoted Hippocrates to capture the core of integrative health: ‘It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has.’  The World Health Organization’s 1948 constitution said, ‘Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’

Integrative medicine grounds its practice in this definition. Where conventional medicine has the negative mission of seeking to expunge disease, integrative medicine adds the well-being that promotes health, thus avoiding or mitigating the diseases that conventional medicine addresses—and, in the process, reduces the role that it needs to play. Integrative medicine seeks to know the person as well as the disease.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a research center on integrative health. The White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Policy’s 2002 report contains an array of policy approaches to advance integrative health. You can read about the Congressional Mindfulness Caucus. Voice for HOPE works to create dialogues between members of Congress and their constituents about ways integrative medicine can play a broader role in national health care policy.

Integrative health is enormously important for policy on health. The current policy debate—ObamaCare was a prominent example—focuses almost entirely on medical care for people who are sick. It pays almost no effective attention to encouraging behavior changes that would keep them well and avoid having to use expensive doctors and hospitals when they get sick.

Integrative health includes practices focusing (in the words of The Mayo clinic) ‘on the whole person and includes physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health . . . mind-body medicine (such as meditation, acupuncture and yoga), manipulative and body-based practices . . . and natural products (such as herbs and dietary supplements)’. In public health the absence of simple behaviors such as hand-washing and sanitation play an enormous role in promoting disease.

From 30 to 40% plus of Americans use various forms of organized integrative health approaches to stay healthy. Millions of people in the U.S. use organized diet, exercise and mindfulness programs. In developing countries Educate Girls Globally (EGG) is experimenting with community-based health programs to promote change in negative (to health) behaviors and habits of traditional people. For example, they have launched an experiment using ‘Girls’ Parliaments’ to promote hand-washing, and in two months the percentage washing their hands has increased from essentially zero (based not on what they say, but on soap used) to between 70-80%.

The policy challenge is how to encourage people to change their behavior, which is difficult. EGG’s program is still too new to reach strong conclusions, but preliminary results are encouraging.

A major objective of a transpartisan politics is to promote development of a strong and active concept of citizenship in place of the current weak concept where all attention is on the government. A transpartisan health policy would seek the same objective: to encourage citizens to take more responsibility for their own health, taking personal care of themselves, and reserving expensive conventional approaches to cases where they become really sick. In health as in political action, transpartisans promote active citizenship in place of the passive roles currently played both by voters and by patients.

On Sunday, June 11, Voice for HOPE will join other Washington, DC, charities in a 5K Run/Walk on the shore of the beautiful Anacostia River in Washington’s Anacostia Park. People across the country and around the world can join or support the event – Jim Turner, chair of Citizens for Health and Voice for HOPE, urges everyone reading this note to support the 5K Run/Walk here.

Transpartisan Review Note #47

President Trump on the Abraham Path

Transpartisan Note #47

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

The Abraham Path is a cultural route celebrating a journey made 4,000 years ago by Abraham, the common patriarch of the three Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

USA Today says, “President Trump has billed his [May 2017] visit to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican as a sort of triple pilgrimage to places deeply meaningful to adherents of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.”transpartisan

That paper quotes Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, saying “the trip reflects the president’s belief ‘that we all have to be united and we have to be joined together with an agenda of tolerance and moderation.’ ”

The Abraham Path Initiative is an American nonprofit organization recreating Abraham’s trip for interested individuals. If you have the time and stamina, walking across the West Bank over several days is an experience never to be forgotten. See the online guidebook to the path here.

The Initiative, co-founded by William Ury, mediator and co-author of Getting to Yes, says “known as ‘the Friend,’ Abraham is still remembered for his legendary welcome and kindness toward strangers. This ancient journey is a cultural thread that binds humanity together, a tangible reminder that no matter what divides us, what unites us is far, far greater.”

In addition to its Middle East walks, the project partners with interreligious organizations leading local Abraham Walks, such as those in several places around the United States, including Cincinnati, Dallas, and Austin, Texas. Organizers take participants on mini-pilgrimages that link local churches, mosques, and synagogues and include interfaith liturgies and speakers. Contact the project to help create a local walk of your own.

President Trump, in his initial speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on May 21st, said, “For many centuries the Middle East has been home to Christians, Muslims and Jews living side-by-side. We must practice tolerance and respect for each other once again—and make this region a place where every man and woman, no matter their faith or ethnicity, can enjoy a life of dignity and hope.

“In that spirit, after concluding my visit in Riyadh, I will travel to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and then to the Vatican – visiting many of the holiest places in the three Abrahamic Faiths. If these three faiths can join together in cooperation, then peace in this world is possible – including peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

President Trump’s nine-day journey that began in the Middle East consciously includes the spiritual essence of Abraham’s embrace of humanity. A Presidential trip successful in advancing this spirit will advance the best hopes for humanity.

(Photo of the Omar Mosque and Bethlehem Peace Center, two of the many locations on the Abraham Path. Learn more at www.abrahampath.org)