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Sender: "Bruce Schuman"
Subject: Is corrupt money in politics the ONE issue that can unite Americans?
Date: Mon, Mar 24, 2014
Msg: 100854

From: List for transpartisan leaders and innovators [mailto:TRANSPARTISAN@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG] On Behalf Of Michael Briand Sent: Friday, March 21, 2014 11:45 AM To: TRANSPARTISAN@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG Subject: Re: [TRANSPARTISAN] Is corrupt money in politics the ONE issue that can unite Americans?

Steven’s reply to Evelyn’s suggestion that money in politics is “the one issue” the transpartisan community might unite behind illustrates how elusive agreement can be even among persons who share a general dissatisfaction with the practice of democracy in our country today. Little common ground exists between persons who think of each other as leaning toward opposite poles on the political spectrum. What common ground there is, moreover, typically turns out to be politically insignificant.

I am inclined to the view that transpartisanship in any meaningful sense is unlikely in the absence of a transformation in our most basic beliefs, the ones that are tied closely to our self-conceptions and our conceptions of the good and the right. If these never change, then no important transformation can occur. This is to say that transformation requires the ability and willingness to learn. Learning, in turn, is impossible unless we are to some substantial degree open-minded. And open-mindedness depends on being sufficiently secure psychologically to countenance the possibility that we may have to change.

Processes, strategies, and techniques of dialogue and deliberation can of course foster open-mindedness and the readiness to undergo transformation by creating psychologically safe and constructive environments for learning. But I am deeply skeptical that any of these has the potential to produce the kind of deep transformative change that is needed, in large measure because none embody or rest upon a coherent and convincing theory of psychological change (learning). For me, failure to provide a plausible account of how our structures of belief, attitude, disposition, and the like can be altered in the face of powerful impediments (affective, cognitive, social, cultural, generational, and so on ad infinitum) greatly diminishes the prospect that anything useful will come of even the most sincere and assiduous reciprocal efforts to reach out to others who do not share one’s own outlook.

Michael Briand

From: Steven Rubenstein

Sent: Thursday, March 20, 2014 10:25 PM


Subject: Re: [TRANSPARTISAN] Is corrupt money in politics the ONE issue that can unite Americans?

No, this is not "the one issue" the community could unite behind -- because it is not just one issue.

You need to define which money you are talking about -- lobbyists, direct campaign contributions, party contributions, third party expenditures, etc.

The problem with suggesting money itself is the problem is that you take away people's right to free speech and to share their views. Yes, there may be too much money in politics. But who are you to say that I do not have the right to share my feelings on the best course of action for this country? If you take out money, then who is allowed to share their opinions and how?

While you may disagree with the Koch brothers, you would probably hate them less if the situation were reversed and Sierra Club had inordinately more money to spend influencing voters than the Koch brothers do. (For the record, I am a tree hugger.)

I think the bigger problem is not the money per se, but that it is too easy to hide who is actually spending it. That is something everyone could probably agree on.


Steven Rubenstein

On Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 12:24 PM, Evelyn Messinger wrote:

Briefly: my name is Evelyn Messinger. I am a television and web producer whose work focuses on bringing citizens into the policy-making process by leveraging their opinions via media - see our website below my signature.

If there is one issue that unites left and right in fundamental agreement on a problem and a solution, it is the corrupting influence of money in politics. The transpartisan movement could look at this issue as a case study and perhaps a way to seek practical avenues to engage the public.

This post is inspired by a new campaign from - which sponsors an "Anti-Corruption Act" among other things - to hold a nationwide march on April 15 to "turn tax day into representation day." This is the group most likely to have a real impact using a grass-roots approach, because they are dedicated and professional, as this video shows:

Liberals and conservatives emphasize different aspects of this problem, with conservatives focusing on the venal actions of politicians and liberals on the greedy demands of corporations, but there is surprising agreement on both sides, even among many elected leaders, that the rules of campaign finance should be changed. See this video we produced at both the Republican and Democratic 2012 Conventions on the topic: &list=PLC4B2F48B04494A6A (disclosure: we worked with Represent Us on this project).

You would think that this degree of support would lead to change, but there are two problems: extremely powerful vested interests in maintaining, and even expanding, the current system; and the fact that money in politics, a root cause of many concrete problems, is more abstract than the problems themselves (my mortgage is under water, my kid's college tuition is going through the roof, I pay for 3000 TV channels but spend most of my viewing time watching commercials.)

Is this the one issue that our transpartisan community could united behind?

Thanks and regards,

Evelyn -- Evelyn Messinger +1.415.377.6278


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