The Track Back to the American Ideals of E Pluribus Unum (1/3)
Do you think an activist cross-partisan constituency is necessary to the health and well-being of American democracy?
by The Cross-Partisan Action Network | 1.3.19
Read Part 1 of Rob Stein's conversation on cross-partisanship below. Check back soon for Part 2, and take action above to share you opinion!
The Track Back to the American Ideals of E Pluribus Unum
By Rob Stein | January 2019
Americas’ national politics are dominated as never before by the two major political parties and the phalanx of non-party, non-profit issue and constituency groups that are aligned with them. This two-party political industrial complex now spends roughly $6 billion per election cycle (about $3 billion per side) to bombard us with self-aggrandizing imagery and negative messaging that is hardened and amplified by their respective echo chambers of talk radio ideologues, cable news partisans and tribal social media.
This mutually reinforcing hyper-competition is alienating tens of millions of Americans who no longer identify with tired party labels, right and left political correctness, and stale policy nostrums that derive from twentieth century ideological certainties, many of which no longer apply to todays’ existential challenges. These millions of unorganized, “exhausted Americans” increasingly feel they have no effective political voice and no comfortable political home. “Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape”, Hawkins, Ludkin, Juan-Torres and Dixon, October, 2018. Self-governance will not thrive, and the vitality of our democracy may not survive, so long as these citizens’ legitimate interests remain muted and marginalized.
Thus, it is both newsworthy and hopeful that current and former Republicans, Democrats and Independents are growing capacities and working together to actively develop new political ideas, actions and arrangements. Although their explorations are still formative, these cross-partisan pioneers seek alliance across traditional political and cultural divides, are staunch defenders of democratic ideals, institutions and norms, honor open minded political debate, value fresh ideas and political innovation and are committed to working together to advance evidence-based solutions to human and communal problems.
These organizations are poised to organize a constituency of millions of cross-partisan activists. Their purpose should not envision the creation of a new political party, nor the spawning of another single-issue movement aligned inextricably with one of the existing parties. Rather, their mission should be to become a force for change – a cause - which supports open-minded Republicans, Democrats and Independents passionately committed to a cross-partisan agenda that promotes country over party, rigid ideology, and/or a single-issue agenda.
Not all politics in America are hyper-partisan and dysfunctional. In hundreds of communities, and a number of states, enlightened and capable mayors and governors from both parties (and independents) know how to engage conservatives, liberals and moderates, business and labor, and stakeholders from across traditional cultural and political divides in constructive problem solving. For those who despair that our national politics have become toxic, they should celebrate the cross-partisan facilitation skills of many local and state leaders in every region of our country.
However, at the national level, our democracy is more vulnerable than many of us may have thought. It requires a foundation of truth, trust, reason and civility more solid than we may have understood. And, it is more dependent than we imagined on a national consensus that the whole of our nation ultimately must become a cause grander than the sum of our diverse parts – “E Pluribus Unum”.
To be continued...check back soon for:
- Whither America: “E Pluribus Unum” or “E Pluribus Pluribus”? (Part 2)
- Realizing the Ideals of “E Pluribus Unum” is Dependent on Building A Sustainable Cross-Partisan Constituency (Part 3)
Rob Stein is a former Senior Strategist, Democratic National Committee (1989-1992); Founder, Democracy Alliance (2005); Co-founder, Committee On States (2007); and currently committed to building an enduring cross-partisan constituency to chart the track back to the ideals of E Pluribus Unum.
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