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Help Move Us Beyond Partisan Polarization

We hope you will read the letter below from NCDD supporting member Mark Gerzon asking NCDD members to share their ideas and input for how we can transcend the partisan political divide of our times. Mark and the Center for Transpartisan Leadership will also be offering a chance to be part of the conversation in the “Co-Designing our Transpartisan Journey” workshop during NCDD 2014. Learn more about what the CTL is doing and comment with your ideas below.

Before we are Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives, or any of the other labels that divide us as often as define us, we are Americans, all with a personal stake in our country. For some time now we’ve all fallen into a pattern of describing our choice as Left or Right. But is that really an accurate description of the choice before us? Isn’t our choice really not one of Left or Right, but of up or down?

CTL logo no wordsWhat do you think of the preceding sentences?

Whatever you reaction may have been, you should know that I didn’t write them. The author of the first sentence was one of the most liberal presidents in recent memory, Bill Clinton. The author of the second and third sentences was President Ronald Reagan, who spoke them exactly thirty years ago when accepting the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. George W. Bush in 2000 and Barack Obama in 2008 made very similar statements.

These leaders know that there is another dimension to political life. It is not all about a horizontal (Left-Right) ideological divide, but also about a vertical (Higher-Lower) axis. In other words:

There is a path that goes “up” toward collaboration, problem-solving and co-creation, not “down” toward cynicism, polarization, and national decline.

NCDD members collectively have both the knowledge and commitment to charting this path toward higher ground. For this reason, we at the Center for Transpartisan Leadership are convening a one-day dialogue immediately preceding the NCDD conference to explore how organizations engaged in cross-boundary, cross-partisan work might deepen our synergy and potentially increase our collective impact.

We are inviting you to share your ideas with us so that they can become part of our agenda.

Some of the converging factors that make now the time to explore this emerging opportunity are “positive” ones:

  1. Parallel visions among thought leaders of the D&D field
  2. Promising cross-partisan initiatives
  3. New methods for civic engagement
  4. The maturing field of dialogue, deliberation and conflict resolution

Other converging factors making now the time for this work appear as more “negative” ones:

  1. Sharply increased government dysfunction
  2. Record levels of public dissatisfaction
  3. Predictions of a unprecedentedly toxic 2016 election

In fact, both the “positive” and “negative” factors make this meeting extremely timely. Given this confluence of all these factors, we believe it is an extremely promising moment to explore greater synergy between and among key organizations and greater collective impact on public discourse, citizen engagement, and democracy reform.

We invite you, as NCDD members, to respond to this blog by sharing any specific action ideas you (or your organization) believe are part of this movement for transforming partisanship into genuine, collaborative problem-solving.

If this “transpartisan” work intrigues you, here are four steps you can take to start getting involved:

  1. Respond to this blog post in the comments section with your own specific proposal for actions that could transform partisanship.
  2. Join us at the reception (co-sponsored by us, Community Matters, and NCDD) on October 16th at 6 PM in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency during the NCDD 2014 officially begins to hear firsthand the results of our pre-conference dialogue with the major organizations in the field.
  3. Attend our NCDD 2014 workshop, “Co-Designing our Transpartisan Journey”, on October 17th from 11am-12:30pm where we can learn from each other how to build a transpartisan movement.
  4. Subscribe to our Transpartisan listserv and be part of the discussion on advancing this kind of work.
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Roshan Bliss
An inclusiveness trainer and group process facilitator, Roshan Bliss serves as NCDD's Youth Engagement Coordinator and Blog Curator. Combining his belief that decisions are better when everyone is involved with his passion for empowering young people, his work focuses on increasing the involvement of youth and students in public conversations.

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