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Sender: Marla Crockett
Subject: Re: Fwd: Defintions of transpartisan
Date: Fri, Apr 11, 2014
Msg: 100915

Hello--I've been reading entries on this listserv since it went up and have found it an interesting window to a new conversation. First, a quick introduction: I'm Marla Crockett, an independent consultant in the DC area and a member of the NCDD Board. I'm a former journalist (in public broadcasting), and that background informs and influences my take on things generally. Especially when it comes to language.

So, here are a few comments on the word "transpartisan." I don't think it will be terribly useful for the public, and here's an indication why. I recently taught a class at a bookstore in DC called, Bridging the Partisan Divide. I thought about using the word "transpartisan" in the title, but was afraid nobody would get it or relate to it. Since my research didn't crisply clarify things, I decided to go with most people's frame of reference--partisanship. The dialogue that kicked off the evening focused on how this issue has affected them and their families, and it revealed what we all know: that our supercharged partisan atmosphere is damaging relationships and comes with a social cost. I heard stories of holiday dinners ruined, friends estranged, and people afraid to talk to each other.

Jacob Hess and Phil Neisser's book, "You're Not As Crazy As I Thought," fit nicely into the conversation and helped illustrate a key point about the importance of asking thoughtful questions stripped of bias and incendiary language. My bottom line with those in the class was, if you want a different conversation, ask different questions. So, my question to you about transpartisanship is, how will it help us ask better, more powerful questions that get below the surface and help people talk to each other? Or is it more political philosophy and theory? If the latter, I hope you can discuss its relevance and practicality for the average American.

Phil Neisser and I met after a recent Kettering meeting, and he sent along some advice which I read to the class and would like to repeat here: "Try approaching your family member this way: 'I really want to understand your point of view better and in general do a better [job] of making clear that I respect you and care about you, even though we disagree. So, I have a suggestion: let's try talking in a new way. Let's make our goal mutual understanding, not persuasion. Let's set time limits for each of us to talk, and let's agree not to interrupt unless it's to ask for clarification. Let's agree that if either of us raises our voices at all, or if [either one] of [us] begins to feel too tense to want to go on, we promise to call a time out, and then try again later.'"

The people in my class--and millions more--are hungering for a different approach, for language like Phil's that will practically meet their needs. I hope you'll be able to offer some of that to them. Thanks, Marla

Marla Crockett Public Engagement Consultant NCDD Board member Chevy Chase, MD. 301-272-7866 (cell)

On Thu, Apr 10, 2014 at 4:19 PM, Tom Atlee wrote:

> As I read over these definitions and recall earlier such discussions - and > feel my own responses (which come from totally outside the partisan frame > altogether) - I find myself wondering what the common denominator of all of > them is. > > I find myself thinking of a generic definition for transpartisanship: > > of or pertaining to efforts to move beyond > the limits of partisanship towards greater > wholeness and more productive interactivity. > > Subsets of such efforts include > > * People of different (especially opposing) partisan perspectives hearing > and understanding each other better - and also connecting at the human > level - and the forms of interaction that promote such understanding and > congeniality even in the presence of continuing disagreements. Such > practices often provide a foundation for other transpartisan efforts. > > * Reconceptualizing partisan worldviews to include a greater complexity > of partisan perspectives - especially moving beyond polarized left-right > dichotomies to quadrants, spectrums, or simply acknowledgment of the many > diverse self-identified parties and ideologies (e.g., liberal, > conservative, green, libertarian, communitarian, socialist, etc., etc.). > Often these reframings articulate a larger perspective within which these > part-ies represent complementary parts. In essence and practice, this > approach invites partisans to bring their partisan part of the big picture > to efforts to clarify or use that big picture for shared benefit. > > * Identifying or developing common ground perspectives and solutions that > have broad support across many partisan divides - especially through > conversations among admittedly partisan people or among self-identified > nonpartisan "independents" capable of "seeing the gifts of both sides". In > specific instances, this is often facilitated by processes (like Nonviolent > Communication and Principled Negotiation) designed to deconstruct > positions, ideologies and strategies into needs or interests that can be > satisfied in many ways, inviting mutual empathy and co-creativity rather > than battle or compromise. > > * Reaching beyond partisanship altogether through clarifying the unique > perspectives of individuals, the broad commonality of human needs and > spirit, and the dynamic use of both uniqueness and commonality to enliven > shared co-creative conversation and action (among people identified as > citizens, community members, human beings, or other nonpartisan identity), > often grounded in ideas and practices promoting individual and community > self-organization. Advocates may see partisanship as intrinsically > reductionist, its ideological categories degrading our infinitely rich > diversity and humanity into manipulable wars between fictitious > oversimplifications. > > There are probably other categories of transpartisanship, but I offer > these as four distinct but obviously interrelated approaches to "to move > beyond the limits of partisanship towards greater wholeness and more > productive interactivity." > > Coheartedly, > Tom > > ________________________________ > > Tom Atlee, The Co-Intelligence Institute, POB 493, Eugene, OR 97440 > site: / blog: > Read EMPOWERING PUBLIC WISDOM - > THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY - and > REFLECTIONS ON EVOLUTIONARY ACTIVISM - > Please support our work. Your donations are fully tax-deductible. > > ________________________________ > > > On Apr 10, 2014, at 11:00 AM, Lawrence Chickering wrote: > > > I wrote the following email to John Steiner, who asked for my thoughts > > on definitions of transpartisan, and I am also including a response > (below) > > from Joan Blades. > > > > Lawry > > > > Begin forwarded message: > > > >> From: Lawrence Chickering > >> Subject: Defintions of transpartisan > >> Date: April 9, 2014 at 04:01:00 PDT > >> To: John Steiner > >> Cc: Jim Turner , Joan Blades < >>, michael ostrolenk > >> > >> Dear John, > >> > >> I am writing to share some thoughts of definitions of transpartisan in > >> preparation for the phone call we have scheduled for Thursday (time > still > >> TBD). > >> > >> I see two quite different definitions currently in play. First is the > instrumental > >> definition that I believe animates most transpartisans. It is focused > on civility, > >> respectful listening, and -- ultimately -- compromise. Mark's > descriptions of > >> the leadership institute are mostly in this spirit. Important ideas > underlying this > >> approach include the idea that most important things are visible and > known to > >> people in political debate, and that there is no avoiding the fact that > peoples' > >> values and views on issues conflict; there is no avoiding that. The > best, therefore, > >> that can be hoped is that people can listen, respect, and engage, etc. > Since > >> there is no avoiding conflict, there is no point in focusing debate on > particular > >> issues. The transpartisan movement should focus on a wide variety of > issues > >> and -- in terms of the Four-quadrant Matrix -- often will have to be > content to > >> see how the freedom and order quadrants often agree across left and > right. > >> > >> The second vision of transpartisan is the one I introduced in Beyond > Left and > >> Right and that Jim and I carried forward in Voice of the People. It is > substantive > >> rather than instrumental, believing that everyone, both personally and > politically, > >> is looking for ways of integrating the four quadrants, integrating > freedom and > >> order. Since the concepts for accomplishing this do not exist in the > current > >> political debate, it follows that some important concepts are invisible > and > >> waiting to be discovered by reframing the debate; and when they are > reframed, > >> people on all parts of the Matrix will come together: their deepest > values do > >> not conflict. The purpose of transpartisan dialogue, therefore, needs > to be > >> about more than merely the instrumental virtues of listening, > respecting, and > >> engaging; it needs to be to search for that reframing that will > highlight peoples' > >> four-quadrant values and bring them together. > >> > >> The difference between the instrumental and substantive definitions of > >> transpartisan implies different roles for facilitators in the two > perspectives. > >> In the instrumental vision, facilitators do have a substantive role, > but it will > >> tend to be limited to searching for agreements between the order > quadrants > >> and the freedom quadrants. And this can often result in important, new > >> alliances supporting particular positions. However, the instrumental > vision is > >> ultimately limited by the belief that people do not have the same > values, and > >> important conflicts will always remain. In the substantive vision, > facilitators will > >> always be searching for mechanisms of reframing that will bring all > four quadrants > >> together. Since this may be easier to do on some issues than on > others, they > >> will tend to believe the transpartisan demonstration should initially > focus on > >> those issues, build trust as new, four-quadrant coalitions appear, and > then move > >> on to more difficult issues. This facilitation role also often implies > significant > >> preparatory work with each side separately, searching for new terms of > reframing, > >> before bringing the two, principal contestants together. It also > implies coaching > >> each side on how to bring out in the other an understanding of the > reframing > >> that will accomplish full agreement. Jim's and my book -- and my > earlier book, > >> though often more abstractly -- are filled with examples of how to do > this. > >> > >> These two approaches are rooted, I believe, in some important, > different substantive > >> beliefs. The instrumental view is rooted in a strong commitment to > hierarchy > >> and to a weak concept of citizenship. This view believes that 'public > policy' is > >> mostly about the government, about representative democracy, and about a > >> belief that elections are the most important events opening > opportunities for > >> transpartisan engagement. The substantive view proceeds from a strong > concept > >> of citizenship, a belief that 'public policy' is in part about > governments, but that > >> in its highest and best formulation it is about citizens engaging each > other, working > >> to solve problems. Although some issues must be made by governments > alone, > >> most can include important roles for citizens; and where citizens have > important > >> roles, then government officials need to engage them as citizens, > themselves, not > >> as people who can accomplish the highest purposes of policy through > commands. > >> > >> Focusing on elections, the instrumental view tends to believe that > transpartisan > >> engagement is most important in addressing conflicts and (again) mostly > in the > >> debate about policy. The substantive view, in Joan Blades' lovely > formulation, > >> tends to be more aspirational, inspiring people to engage each other to > high > >> purpose. An extraordinary effect this can have on combatants may be > found in > >> the jacket blurb of David Keene, a conservative activist, in Voice. > While many > >> people believe that 'transpartisan' tends to attract many more > 'progressives' than > >> 'conservatives', I believe that is only true for the instrumental > definition of > >> transpartisan; it is not at all true when engagement is aspirational > and seeking > >> four-quadrant, transformative integration, which is the terrain of the > substantive > >> definition. > >> > >> The greatest philosophical and operational challenge for the > substantive view is > >> integrating the formal, mechanistic operations of policymaking with the > informal, > >> often organic mechanisms of citizen engagement. It is difficult to > exaggerate the > >> importance of this point. These two perspectives are rooted, > epistemologically, in > >> very different visions of human experience and possibility. The point > is not that one > >> is 'better than the other'; it is that both are important and even > necessary both > >> to bring people together and to solve real problems. > >> > >> A full response to your request for definitions would give real world > examples > >> to illustrate these points, made abstractly. For live examples, again, > I would > >> suggest someone read almost any randomly selected page of Voice. > >> > >> Hope this is useful. Look forward to talking. -L > >> > > A. Lawrence Chickering > > Founder and President, Educate Girls Globally (EGG) > > 1485 Main St., Ste 103c > > St. Helena, CA 94574 > > 415.235.6628 > > email: > > > > > > > > FROM JOAN BLADES, APRIL 9: > > > > Thanks for sharing your definitions Lawry! > > > > I'd like to articulate a piece that I think is key- I believe we are > suggesting a move from a zero sum outcome expectations- which is what is > commonly assumed happens when people disagree- to positive sum outcome > ambitions. Reminding people that this is possible and that we may even > create solutions that are better than one mind set or the other can create > on their own is a key aspiration. I believe Parker Palmer has expressed an > orientation that leads to this kind of engagement beautifully- Being able > to hold the tension of our differences and engage with an open heart is a > goal that resonates for many. > > > > Lovely to be part of this conversation. > > > > Joan > > > > P.S. Last week I went to a gathering trying to decide how to take the > pro-voice movement out into the world. It has been used successfully to > talk about abortion (not pro-choice, not pro-life -pro-voice) - can it be > of benefit used more broadly in the world? Judging from the big definition > LRCs are Pro-voice as is the transpartisan movement. > > > > ############################ > > To unsubscribe from the TRANSPARTISAN list: > write to: mailto:TRANSPARTISAN-SIGNOFF-REQUEST@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG > or click the following link: > >


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