In today’s post-partisan world, left-right, liberal-conservative, Republican-Democrat lack useful significance in describing a complete picture of contemporary politics. These 19th century shopworn terms fail to include a new large post-partisan demographic which is emerging and has yet to find a polity truly expressive of its interests.
This new demographic can be characterized as beyond the stale and often meaningless terms left and right. They are socially expansive in that they look to create and participate in new communities that transcend but include conventional boundaries. That means they see value in tradition and conventions but are not limited by them. They seek community life and are willing to try new roles out within those communities but not at the expense of their own selves. They seek decisions being taken by consensus (i.e. democratically), but are not willing to lose their own sense of self or their rights.
They are ecologically sensitive and personally experimental. They care about their environment and their own health. Personally experimental refers to their willingness to play with their own consciousness, social roles and conventional rules.
Another reason this group of people can be considered beyond left and right is that their critique of power consists of both those from the traditional American left and the old right. They are concerned with all forms of concentrated power and authority. Government bothers them as much as transnational corporations. They look askance at the media, consumer culture, government propaganda, authoritarian religious institutions, and our so-called educational systems.
These post-partisan people are also called transpartisan because they see the value in partisan worldviews but do not limit themselves to any particular value set within a partisan system. For instance, they see the importance to a lot of people of traditional religion and although they might not be so inclined to believe and live the same way, they do not seek to destroy or denigrate people’s conservative religious beliefs. It is a live and let live mindset within the boundaries of individual rights and persuasion.
The transpartisan mindset allows for greater cooperation between what appears to be conflicting worldviews. Basically, people who are transpartisan can and do play well with others. They are willing and quite able to form political and social coalitions to solve immediate and long term problems. You can find them in many of the alternative cultural movements like home-schooling, integrative medicine, and organic food cooperatives, while at the same time living and participating in the conventional world.
They are setting the stage for a new political movement, which neither major party can, at this time, appreciate. And no minor political party can see this due to their ideological-purity blinders. More and more people are joining this group but, unfortunately, many still limit themselves with traditional party affiliations and inconsistencies in their politics. What I mean by the latter is that although they are experimental in their private lives and in many cases their community lives, they have not translated that mindset to their politics.
If they come from the left, then they might still favor one-size-fits-all programs and projects which actually denies human uniqueness, innovation, creativity and community diversity. If they come from the right, they might see corporate structure i.e. private power as the only means of organizing business life. This can deny human creativity and the importance of social relations and community values.
In time, the limits of the earlier partisan mindsets whether left or right will be transcended and the inconsistencies mentioned above will be reduced. The transpartisan mindset will help to create new cultures, new institutions and new ways of being in the world. This in turn will then reverberate in our body politics by changing the dynamics from a limited and narrow spectrum of discussion, belief, and action to much broader possibilities. It will help to move the power and decision-making from an elite group of technocrats, plutocrats and bureaucrats over towards individuals and communities.
Michael D. Ostrolenk is a Senior Editor of the Free Liberal.