Transpartisan Note #6
by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner
Seventy percent of voters say they think the country is going in the wrong direction. The numbers of voters registering as independents, declining to associate with either party, continues to increase and is now 42%, more than either Democrats or Republicans. Reflecting on the campaigns that began with the conventions will provide huge opportunities to explore new (more than partisan) reasons for voter unhappiness.
Voters are unhappy with partisan conflict – they want political leaders to work together at least on things we agree about.
The media tends to be more in the entertainment than the news business. In this business conflict (entertaining ‘stories’) sell. Covering political events like conventions, the media imitate the partisans. ‘Balanced’ panels, editorials, commentary mean Republican/conservative and Democratic/progressive spokespeople squaring off. Following this formula, CNN covering the Democrats, made little effort to represent Trump or Sanders supporters – only poor Jeffrey Lord, by himself, for Trump and no one for Sanders, facing seven others, some active partisans, others ‘neutral’.
Why not include transpartisan voices, highlighting the tension between freedom and order on both left and right, which would help explain conflicts within the two sides and reveal positions partisans ignore because they agree. (One conservative activist in Washington scoffed at a project promoting education for girls in developing countries with scarcely-concealed disgust: ‘Well, no one could be against that!’)
What can you say about a society that cannot do what people agree about? As transpartisans, we think that is fundamentally wrong.
Wouldn’t it be news to show transpartisans bringing partisans together to solve problems? Organizations like Living Room Conversations are starting to promote dialogues between left and right. Conversations about issues that create transpartisan solutions can entertain. They can also give people hope, which is in tragically short supply right now.