The Transpartisan Review Blog #20


Meditating on the Anomalies

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

It is impossible to comment on this election without retreating into clichés. Everything that could be said has been said. How should transpartisans be looking at what happened? What might reality look like with Trump as President?

Not pretending to know, we are looking for clues. We see clues that this archetypal anti-transpartisan may move in surprising directions.

The clues come from anomalies indicating complexity difficult for people to see. In reflecting on it, we must be clear about the difference between partisans and transpartisans.

Partisans are creatures of substance, driven by policy agendas: their views of race, tax policy, and foreign policy. With different views, conservatives and progressives, Democrats and Republicans, are partisans in their commitment to substance.

Transpartisans are guided more by process than by substance: bringing people together, highlighting (where possible) the best in each. Our Four-Quadrant Matrix is a tool for this, with partial truths in each quadrant (freedom and order on both left and right). Partial truths. Our guiding process is to bring these complementary truths and their advocates together in an integrated whole.

Where does Trump fit in this analysis? In the campaign he was extremely, even brutally, partisan: build a wall, kill Obamacare, send Hillary to jail. But now the anomalies: by post-election rhetoric, he will keep parts of Obamacare, the wall is forgotten (at least for now), prosecuting Hillary appears to be gone, and he has backed away from deporting all illegals.

If Trump is not an extreme partisan, what is he?

Perhaps…a deal-maker? This may explain his ignorance and even indifference to policy details. Knowing too much makes it hard for deal-makers because it may restrict their hearing others and bringing them together.

We are waaayyy out of the box here. But that is where we are most comfortable: we don’t ever want to see the box closing in on us.

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