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Transpartisan Review Note #52


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.

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.


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


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

Transpartisan Review Note #46

Search For Common Ground, Transpartisan In Action

Transpartisan Note #46

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

Daryl Davis, African-American R&B and blues musician, worked to improve race relations by personally engaging with leaders of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Known for his energetic style of Boogie-woogie piano, he bonded with Klansmen who loved his music. He engaged using a fundamental principle of action: “Establish dialogue. When two enemies are talking, they’re not fighting.”

Search for Common Ground, founded in 1982 to find ways to end violent conflict, gave Davis one of its Common Ground Awards in 2014 to honor his outstanding accomplishments in conflict resolution, negotiation, community building, and peacebuilding. Davis directly affected race relations by befriending, and talking deeply with, KKK leader Roger Kelly and other Klan members.davis

Eventually Kelly quit the Klan. “He no longer believes today what he said,” Davis explains. “And when he quit the Klan he gave me his robe and hood, which is the robe of the Imperial Wizard.” Twelve other Klansmen have done the same.

Read this and other Daryl Davis stories in Conor Friedersdorf’s March 27, 2015 article in The Atlantic,The Audacity of Talking About Race With the Ku Klux Klan.” Hear Daryl interviews here and here. Listen to Daryl’s music here, here, and here. Check out his book and DVD here. Daryl’s is an inspiring story of what can happen when adversaries talk with each other.

Common Ground founder, former State Department diplomat John Marks, says recipients of the Common Ground Awards show what can be achieved when we work with, and for, each other. Recipients have made significant contributions toward bridging divides and finding solutions to seemingly intractable problems. The list of Award recipients reads like a glossary of group and individual efforts creating possibilities for a less violent world. Daryl Davis, who received the Award in 2014, provides one powerful example.

One last note. Search for Common Ground founder John Marks introduced us to each other at a 1993 party for Lawry’s book Beyond Left and Right: Breaking the Political Stalemate, at his Washington DC home. We recently discovered that unknown to us we had each served at different times on the board of Search for Common Ground.

(Image from Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America, a documentary film directed by Matt Ornstein.)


Transpartisan Review Blog #45

Educate Girls Globally (EGG), founded by Lawry Chickering nearly twenty years ago, has enjoyed extraordinary success promoting positive social changes in the most “difficult” populations in rural India. The most important of these are cultural—from premodern, pre-individualist, role-driven values to more modern, individualist, conscious values.

Transpartisan Review Blog #44

September 11, 2001 (9/11) Canadian air traffic control diverted 38 wide-bodied, US-bound airliners to the Gander, Newfoundland, Northeast Canada airfield. The town of Gander, population 10,000, suddenly found itself host to 6,600 stranded passengers and several hundred crew. Come From Away, the Broadway musical story of their five days together in Gander, captures their shared experiences.

Transpartisan Review Blog #43

March 6, 1857, Roger B. Taney, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, wrote the 7-2 Dred Scott opinion finding that “a negro, whose ancestors were imported into [the U.S.], and sold as slaves,” whether enslaved or free, could not be an American citizen.

On March 6, 2017, the 160th anniversary of that infamous decision—the worst in court history, historians say—Justice Taney’s descendant, Charles Taney of Greenwich, Connecticut, apologized to Dred Scott’s great-great-granddaughter under the gaze of a Roger Taney statue installed on the Maryland State House grounds in 1872.