Transpartisan Note #81
by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner
In the year following Donald Trump’s January 20, 2017 Inauguration as President, Washington Post photo-journalists traveled the country photographing and interviewing 102 individuals, two from each state and the District of Columbia.
They asked: ‘What values and beliefs are shared in a country often described as polarized?’
The journalists analyzed the interviews and found seven recurring themes about what unites America. On January 17, 2018 they reported these themes as:
Freedom and Fundamental Rights: We are equals, united by our freedom to say what we want and go where we please . . . and to disagree. Sixty-four of 102 agreed.
Community and empathy: We are united by a capacity for empathy, and we flourish when we come together to help each other. Fifty-nine agreed about this.
Opportunity and drive: We all have a shot at making the life we want. That ideal of the American Dream still has a powerful hold on our imagination. Fifty-eight.
Diversity: We are a nation of immigrants, and are united by our pride in that fact. Fifty.
Responsibility to engage: We are united by our obligation to create a more perfect union. America is a continuing experiment that depends on civic engagement from everyone. Thirty.
Faith in the nation: We are united by our faith that American democracy is sturdy enough to see us through social and political disruption. Twenty-seven.
Fear of the future: We are united by our misgivings about the current direction of America. Fifteen.
These themes are examples of what we, the editors and publishers of The Transpartisan Review, call transpartisan. Transpartisan politics begins with what we agree on. We think Americans have faith in our diverse nation to use our freedom and rights responsibly to engage our opportunity and drive, overcome fear of the future, and receive and add to the empathy that feeds our community.
We think the Four Quadrant Matrix, with its left/right horizontal axis and order/freedom vertical axis, helps explain the apparent divide between our current adversarial politics and the shared values of a striving electorate — an electorate that is largely united in ways that our political institutions are ignoring.
Here is how it looks:
(Photo credit: Image from animated presentation. Visit the Washington Post to see photos of all participants.)