America’s Transpartisan Future

Daring to accept our differences


| September-October 2009


The following is part of a series of articles on reimagining politics beyond the pundits. For more, read  Post-Pundit America  ,  Liberals Aren’t Un-American. Conservatives Aren’t Ignorant.  , and  Not Everyone Is Out to Get You  .

Michael Ostrolenk, a licensed psychotherapist and unabashed “center-right” conservative, is not shy about critically evaluating the Bush administration, which he believes left America “with a mess,” or President Obama, who he fears is “too much like Bush,” especially when it comes to foreign policy and civil rights issues. He’s also an artful conversationalist: impeccably civil, intellectually rigorous, and refreshingly forthright.

Trading strong opinions with him, one begins to believe that it might be possible for people on all points of the political spectrum to find common ground, or at least learn to cross partisan lines without feeling the need to flash party colors.

Ostrolenk is the cofounder and national director of the Liberty Coalition, an ideologically diverse group working to protect privacy and human autonomy, and the president of the Transpartisan Center, which hosts facilitated dialogues in an attempt to turn “nonaligned” leaders into partners for change.

Transpartisanship, billed as a more pragmatic goal than nonpartisanship, is a relatively new school of political thought. Participants in the movement, like Ostrolenk, abhor shallow shouting matches and sound bites, preferring instead to encourage conflict resolution. Utne Reader sat down with Ostrolenk to talk about turning conflict into an intellectual resource.

 

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