The Pre-Partisan Caucus (PPC)

John C. Rankin

[prepartisan.org]

An Invitation for political partisans of all stripes to join …

The pre-partisan embraces a level playing field for all ideas to be heard equally in political debate, and it can only happen if all of us put our partisan ideas on the table up front. Then, when people know they have been listened to well, the dynamics move from tit-for-tat ego contests to the serendipity of “aha” moments. The goal is thus an honest definition of terms in political debate that empower truly informed choice in all policy matters. [The full text of this proposal is found in The Six Pillars of Honest Politics (click on johnrankinbooks.com)].

We are all partisans. And to be a partisan means we have opinions and want to express them in political debate. This is good and necessary in a constitutional and democratic republic, where checks and balances on power is essential. But how well do we show hospitality to the toughest questions of partisans who disagree with our opinions? Here are three standard, and yet dishonest, ways of approaching this concern; followed by one honest way:

  1. To be “non-partisan” means to hold no partisan ideas, that is, to be non-human;
  2. To be “bi-partisan” is a momentary declared stand-off, a stalemate where both sides continually plot eventual victory over the other;
  3. To be “post-partisan” gives license to a political victor to unilaterally declare that partisan debate is over, and thus, no further debate is allowed;
  4. The “pre-partisan” is where all partisans put their ideas on the table up front and seek to hear all other ideas fully, confident that truth will rise to the top.

Thus, partisans who embrace the pre-partisan are honest participants in political life, where we are eager to have our deepest partisan beliefs examined publicly by those who believe otherwise. This simple act then allows the most crucial question to be posed of all partisans in a free nation – namely, do our partisan ideas provide for the freedom for other partisan ideas to challenge our own? To say yes to this question is to express confidence that we are truth seekers.

The PPC rests on:

The Six Pillars of Honest Politics

  1. The power to give affirms that the unalienable rights of life, liberty and a free market economy are given by the Creator to all people equally, and leaders in government should serve such a gift.
  2. The power to live in the light means leaders in human government at every level should be as fully transparent as possible.
  3. The power of informed choice is rooted in honest definitions of terms in political debate, providing a level playing field for all ideas to be heard equally, apart from which political freedom is not possible.
  4. The power to love hard questions is in place when political leaders honor and answer those who pose them the toughest questions.
  5. The power to love enemies recognizes that even the harshest of political opponents share a common humanity and are to be treated with respect.
  6. The power to forgive recognizes the need to address our individual and societal transgressions against one another, and to work toward justice and reconciliation.

These six pillars are by definition pre-partisan. In other words, they set the table for healthy partisan debates over public policy, in service to the consent of the governed. Truth will always rise to the top in an honest process.

Is there any political partisan who cannot embrace these six pillars? If not, then what is a better foundation that serves honest politics? A sign-up list for political leaders and others to join, is forthcoming.

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House of Lords 17 October 2017

Text of John Rankin’s address on the occasion of the 500th annive5rsary of the Reformation.