American Nation: Transpartisan Structure?
by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner
The American Founders created a government for the nation. The nation wields authority over their government. James Madison said “The people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter…is derived.”
The Founders created checks and balances – a two-house Congress on the executive; states on the central government; federal, state, and local courts on legislative and executive overreach – expressly to secure the people’s liberty and constrain authoritarian leaders.
Following Trump’s “surprise” people argue about this structure. Election fairness, generals and democracy, conflicts of interest, arbitrariness before and after January 20, 2017, etc., make headlines. These debates call for the people’s engagement – especially the 50% to 70% so far not, or only marginally, engaged.
Some context. Trump did not “surprise” everyone. In September 2015, Allan J. Lichtman, American University Distinguished Professor of History – predictor of every presidential winner since 1980 – said Trump will win.
Other historians said the last time voters picked a Democrat after a two-term Democratic President (except the unique 1932/52 five-term Roosevelt/Truman era), was 1836 when Martin Van Buren followed Andrew Jackson. Republicans did it once in 1988 when G.H.W. Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan.
Marshall McLuhan – ‘Medium is the Message (or Massage)’ – devotees predicted Trump. ‘Mr. McLuhan’s theories explain why establishment candidates have faltered and outsider personalities have become the story of this election season.’
Five Thirty Eight pollster said ‘Cubs Have a Smaller Chance of Winning then Trump Does.’ The Cubs won. FTE still predicted Clinton. Trump hit politics as Uber hit taxis, Airbnb hit hotels, and Facebook, Google and Amazon hit print news movies music, TV and retail sales.
More context. Trump received about as many votes as Romney – Clinton 3% fewer than Obama. For the first time voters see the winner as less qualified than the loser. Fewer than 40% of age-eligible voters supported Trump complicating governing.
Re-quoting New York Times’ Roger Cohen: ‘Western democracies are in the midst of an upheaval they only dimly grasp. Virtual direct democracy through social media has outflanked representative democracy…The major political parties in Britain and the United States will have to prove their relevance again.’
Transpartisans, people from all walks of life and all political hues committed to solving problems together, can affect political reality. They can do this by constructively integrating the Founders’ checks and balances with the powerful democratizing information tools permeating our daily lives. Transpartisans can make a major contribution to revitalizing political institutions.
The Transpartisan Review will highlight projects that advance that task.