James Turner is a principal in the Swankin & Turner law firm, a founding member of Integral Institute, and its Integral Politics and Integral Business centers. He is also the host of “Of Consuming Interest” on the Progressive Radio Network.
Written by Corey W. deVos
In this third and final installment of James Turner’s dialogue with Ken Wilber, the look of a truly “trans-partisan” governance is explored in closer detail. In the first two parts of this discussion, the history of America’s two-party political system was carefully traced, having taken root in Alexander Hamilton’s “top-down” Federalist party (the first political party in the U.S.) and the “bottom-up” Republican-Democrat party, founded by Thomas Jefferson as a counterbalance to the Federalist ideology. Ken and James also discussed how America’s early political landscape has influenced today’s political scene, as the Federalist and Republican-Democrat parties slowly morphed into the political bodies we know today.
“The people in this society are not recognizing that their identities and their expressions are alienated from the political structures that are being held out to represent them. Representative democracy is not representing their unique human identity… they have been taught through the political process to believe that they have to pick one side or the other of their own value set.”
In the first two installments, Ken and James explored the past and present of American politics, whereas in this section they look to the future of American governance, as they discuss what “trans-partisan” politics actually means, why it is so needed in today’s world, and how we might go about beginning to transcend the party lines.
As James mentions, there are millions of Americans who feel altogether alienated from the world of politics, unable to find their own unique combination of perspectives, values, and identities reflected in the representational options available to them. “They have been taught through the political process,” James tells us, “to believe that they have to pick one side or the other of their own value set.” But the trans-partisan impulse is to move beyond such intensely polarized politics, recognizing that many of our values and beliefs are often in conflict with each other—especially as individuals begin to approach an authentically integral value system, and capable for the first time of recognizing the importance of other preceding value systems. It is an extraordinarily complex world, requiring equally complex perspectives in order to make sense of it all—and as no political party in history has had a monopoly on truth or justice, we must begin to look to all possible political parties, past and present, in order to find and synthesize a new set of tools for a new century.
Here we can see the immediate value the Integral model has to offer: a comprehensive framework through which we can begin to understand the different values, motivations, and perspectives that exist in the world, all of which may be appropriate in certain historical and geopolitical and circumstances. In order to begin moving toward a trans-partisan civic in America, we must have an accurate account of the two major political parties, including such aspects as:
- stage-development factors (e.g. amber traditionalism, orange modernism, green liberalism, etc.)
- interior and exterior dimensions of human experience (e.g. the Left tends to attribute human suffering to unfair exterior social systems and circumstances, while the Right looks to interior personal motivation, family values, etc.)
- individualist and collectivist values (e.g. Libertarianism vs. Socialism)
There are several other important dimensions the Integral model can help us identify in the political arena, but when considering even just the three very general distinctions indicated above—considered by many to be revolutionary contributions to the realm of political thought—we can see that the future of politics will no longer be as black and white as it may currently seem. We must include values from all political ideologies—only this sort of comprehensive approach to governance can offer the degree of clarity and sophistication the world so desperately needs.