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Issue No. 95-a (Summer 2006) -- Mark Satin, Editor
Our cautionary article about the Reuniting America organization (August 15, 2006) provoked a lengthy response from the leadership of Reuniting America, and a reply from our editor. If you’re thinking about launching or otherwise participating in a “transpartisan” political group, this exchange is for you. . . .
Reuniting America Says: Yes to Your Points, AND . . .
As designated responder from our Core Team, I would like to reply to your thoughtful, important, and caring article about our organization, Reuniting America (which you wrote in the form of a letter to the leader of our Team, Joseph McCormick, “First ‘Transpartisan’ Political Organization Prepares for Liftoff,” August 15, 2006). I’ve put notes after the titles of each of the 10 points you made [ed. note: to read each point in full, click on the title of our article above and scroll about a third of the way down].
1. Acknowledge and learn from the past!
2. Define "transpartisanship"
broadly and inclusively!
3. Don't privilege direct democracy over
4. Put as much thought into substance as
5. Broaden your Steering Committee to include
centrists and independents ASAP!
5a. Invite more of America into your inner
6. Remember that other Steering Committee
members' agendas will differ from yours!
7. Don't retreat into some glorified
8. Beware of the "funding high"!
9. Create clear standards for participation
in -- and exclusion from -- Reuniting
10. Dare to lead!
With blessings and gratitude for your great work, experience, intelligence, caring, and loving,
(for himself and on behalf of the rest of the Core Team -- Joseph McCormick,
Ana Micka, Michael Ostrolenk, Pat Spino, Dan Wheeler,
and Mark Gerzon)
To find out more, John invites you to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Response from the editor
I love you too John and thanks for great e-letter. Two comments (much as I tried to resist):
Re: #10 above. Guys, the New America Foundation is an exquisite radical-centrist think-and-do tank (see one of its "doings" HERE), and the social movement we need is long underway; see especially Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson’s book The Cultural Creatives (2000) and Richard Florida’s book The Rise of the Creative Class (2002). The U.S. Green Party wasted eight vital years (1984-1991) trying to re-invent various wheels. Can’t you just focus on one small thing -- launching a political organization?
Re #1 above. Your last sentence there, caricaturing as “New Age” the groups that came before you, is exactly what I was warning against. It demeans your predecessors (most of whom are still alive & potentially your allies) and -- just as important -- excuses you from asking the really tough questions about WHY those earlier groups failed to accomplish their goals, which are largely your goals.
-- If by “New Age” you mean that the people running those groups were insubstantial, take a look at the list of New World Alliance Governing Council members c. 1980 at the bottom of HERE. Of the 39 people minus the staff (i.e. Sarah and me), six were corporate consultants, five were government officials, four were professional journalists, four were university professors, two were attorneys, and 11 were full-time nonprofit activists (four peace, four environmental, three minority-rights). Only five made their livings from arguably New Age pursuits, and for intelligence and creativity I’d put those five up against any five from your board.
-- If by “New Age” you mean that the people running those groups covered only one unusually visionary part of the political spectrum, that’s because they defined their task differently from you. They didn’t want to bring the entire spectrum of Americans together to discover the true voice of “We the People.” They wanted to develop a coherent & imaginative alternative to the traditional political “isms.” So they very consciously brought together on the boards of their groups the people that were already trying to do that. You can call such people “New Age” if you like -- the far left and far right certainly did! -- but most of their spokespeople avoided that term. For example, Marilyn Ferguson spoke of “radical centrist” politics, Willis Harman spoke of “transformational” politics, Hazel Henderson spoke of “solar age” politics, and Theodore Roszak spoke of “personalist” politics.
-- If by “New Age” you mean that the people running those groups had a life-affirming and spiritually aware sensibility, well, I’ll concede that point. Happily and proudly. And what kind of sensibility are you purporting to represent, with your talk of Green memes and Chaordic alliances? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!
Affectionately, -- Mark Satin
We also covered the founding meeting of the entity that became Reuniting America. See "At Last, a Movement That Would Have Us Listen To and Learn From Each Other" (July / August 2004).
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