Transpartisan Coalitions: The Future of Policymaking


Can transpartisan coalitions overcome polarization?

Contrary to what headlines might lead us to believe, policy change is happening at local and national levels. Republicans and Democrats are working together and finding common ground. Unexpected coalitions are forming around criminal justice reform. Evangelicals and liberals have come together to talk about issues of climate change and climate care. New ideas are finding their way into the system and new paths of policy entrepreneurship and compromise are emerging to replace outdated policies and structures.
This new model of policymaking is called transpartisanship. 

Transpartisanship, as a strategy, challenges the traditional understanding that, to create successful coalitions, political elites ought to meet at the center to find a compromise, which sometimes means giving up fundamental ideological positions on issues. Which is fine in theory, but, as Grover Norquist said, “More often than not, the bipartisan compromise is exactly what we have now: gridlock.” And, where bipartisanship is the model, we do have gridlock. But so, too, do we have transpartisanship. 

Nationally, but especially at local levels, a flood of experiments aimed at devising work-arounds to move new policies, defend existing ones, or simply re-open lines of communication are happening. Some are more successful than others.But what’s important to understand is that this is the future of American policymaking.