Notes from the Trail: Function at the Junction

By Steve Bhaerman

A transpartisan event to transcend the partisan trance.

by Steve Bhaerman

Ever since I first became acquainted with the work of Tom Atlee (author “The Tao of Democracy”) and Jim Rough, who first envisioned a Wisdom Council where ordinary Americans access extraordinary wisdom, I’ve had a dream: a new “moral authority” that transcends religion and secular humanism, and offers a healthy “central voice” of We the People.
I had been particularly intrigued by the work and insights of Joseph McCormick. A one-time right wing candidate for Congress from Georgia, Joseph went through a dark night of the soul after his defeat. This led to study and reflection of the Founding Fathers’ words and intentions. He emerged from this epiphany with the mission to bring Americans from across the political spectrum together in the spirit of E Pluribus Unum, out of many one. In finding common ground, he believed, conservatives and progressives could use their strengths to work together. Instead of the angry polarization we have today based on distortions and stereotypes, perhaps we could focus on the “higher octave” of progressive and conservative thought.
Perhaps, as a people, we could ask and answer two functional questions: How do we choose to progress? What do we wish to conserve?
Joseph’s first attempts to breach the partisan divide were bold. Through an organization called Reuniting America, he created several weekend retreats where he brought together organizations as diverse as the Christian Coalition and the Sierra Club, and Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. An early participant was former Republican Congressman (and now Libertarian candidate for President) Bob Barr. Out of this event, Barr teamed with former Vice President Al Gore to tour America warning about the Bush Administration’s abuses of power.
This past May, I had the privelege to meet Joseph McCormick, and we became instant friends and allies. He asked me to help plan, promote and to participate in a breakthough event happening to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s bicentennial this coming February—a transpartisan Citizens Summit.
This is the official announcement for this event, which the Swami has dubbed “A Function at the Junction.” In contrast to the dysfunction of unproductive polarization and focus on conflict, this event is designed to create respectful listening and breakthrough ideas, at a time when America needs all the cooperation and functionality we can find.
Here is the official call for delegates and participation in the event, scheduled in Denver, Colorado, February 11-15, 2009:
Isn’t it time for a national townhall meeting to heal political wounds and search for transpartisan strategies to address America’s deepening crisis?
Amidst the current financial and foreseeable political turmoil, it’s time responsible citizens from all points of view convened to reasonably assess where we are as a nation, where we want to go and most importantly, how we want to get there.
In honor of Abraham Lincoln’s Bicentennial, in February the Transpartisan Alliance—a network of networks building bridges among individuals and organizations from all political points of view —will convene the first ever Transpartisan National Convention. The theme of the event is “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (A. Lincoln, Springfield, IL,1858).
For four days, citizens, leaders and experts from all sides will come together in search of effective strategies for empowering a unified political voice that can restore a healthy balance of power in America. We will engage in a new type of political dialogue that respects and values all points of view. Together we will utilize dialogue, deliberation and conflict resolution tools that enable conservatives, liberals, independents and unaffiliated citizens to communicate respectfully and effectively, and to re-build trust. We will demonstrate that Americans can work together and cooperate for the good of us all.
On a first-come, first-served basis the conference can accommodate 1,500 delegates—500 affiliated as Democrats or progressives; 500 affiliated as Republicans or conservatives; 500 Independents or unaffiliated. Are you interested in participating in this potentially world-changing event? Please go to (then click on events) to find out more and apply, and maybe we will see you there!
We will continue to give updates on this event, and the Department of Heartland Security gives its full endorsement and Official Seal of Approval.
Steve Bhaerman is the alter-ego of Swami Beyondananda, whose column usually appears in this space.

This article was originally published on November 3, 2008.