Bruce Schuman


PO Box 23346, Santa Barbra CA 93121  (805) 966-9515


October 16, 2008 – 8.100942

Hon. Lois Capps

101 W. Anapamu Street #C, Santa Barbara CA 93101

(805) 730-1710


Dear Rep. Capps –

Emerging out of our contemporary situation, and driven by hundreds of interrelated factors, certainly including the candidacy of Barack Obama, there is a rising call across the USA for a “new politics”.  People everywhere are aware that “something is broken,” and the low favorability ratings for Congress may be a reflection of a growing awareness that something needs to change in the way Congress operates.

When I heard you speak at the “Spirit and Nature” retreat in September 2007 at La Casa de Maria, I could feel your deep sensitivity to these issues, and when you mentioned your growing relationships with members of Congress “across the aisle”, the seed of a new idea began to grow in me.

We have been gathering up ideas and potentials for a new way to understand our Democratic process.  There are many emerging new groups and networks forming around the USA, based on ideas of “transpartisanship” and “integral politics”.  People are hearing a call, and doing everything they can to respond.  One group, called “The Transpartisan Alliance” – – is convening a conference in February, and expects to bring together 1300 delegates to discuss and activate these ideas.

I have been gathering energies and ideas on these themes for many years, particularly as regards the role of “spirit” in a secular and public context, and today, I want to propose to you that we begin the development of something like a “Transpartisan Caucus” directly within Congress. 

I believe that there are strong supportive forces out there, that can be gathered and brought into focus, and that hundreds or thousands of people would be excited to connect directly to a live real-world Congressional initiative that is exploring and unfolding these possibilities.

You may be well-aware of related initiatives, and might have some wonderful suggestions for me.  But today, as a way to open a conversation on this subject, I want to offer you an exploratory proposal that suggests the development of an initiative like this, and considers how political forces might be convened to bring these new ideas into American process of self-governance.

Thank you so much for your special kind of leadership in the Congress and for the people of the Santa Barbara area.




“Invoking the Better Angels of Our Nature”


A Congressional Caucus

on Transpartisan and Integral Politics


Outline of a Plan for Action and Development

Written for Rep. Lois Capps, Santa Barbara


Bruce Schuman – The Interspirit Foundation

PO Box 23346, Santa Barbara CA 93121 – (805) 966-9515

October 16, 2008 – 9.100942



In response to a continuing sense of national economic crisis, the very low favorability ratings of Congress, and the sense that in some regards “American politics is broken”, we are proposing the formal development of a discussion framework within the US House of Representatives, and perhaps the Senate, that is intended to explore emerging new “transpartisan and integral” approaches to politics.

If an initial congressional discussion can be developed on these themes, on an ongoing basis, we believe that a national political movement can be developed in coordination with this discussion.  We are hoping to develop a national network process, drawing together organizations and individuals from all across the USA, in a way that could be directly linked to the Congressional caucus, and could report back to the caucus on an occasional basis.

We are suggesting that “the time is right” to spearhead this initiative, and that there are concerned citizens all over the USA who will respond favorably to these ideas, and who will want to actively support congressional leaders who are considering and developing these ideas.

We believe that this idea can work within the framework of our existing politics, and that its essential power emerges as a new way to understand what we are doing in our democratic processes.  We do not need new laws or institutions to frame and unfold this process.  We need a new way to see who we are, and what we want to do together as a nation.

We are suggesting that the initial development of modest Congressional process can empower and vitalize this movement, in direct and striking ways, and we are proposing that we move forward with this idea immediately.  We are hoping that Rep. Lois Capps, to whom this proposal is addressed, will find this idea workable and interesting, and will be able to actively participate in the project in some way.

This outline is an initial sketch, and can be expanded in many ways.


Initial Outline

Developing a Congressional Caucus on Transpartisan and Integral politics

1.      Frame the idea of an initial discussion among members of Congress, considering the elements of a new “transpartisan and integral” approach to politics

a.       Approach Rep. Lois Capps with this idea, and solicit her interest and enthusiasm

b.      We need to “spearhead an opening” and get this subject under discussion

c.       If this idea can be actually under discussion and development within Congress itself, and not merely as a grass-roots political idea, its power could rapidly grow

2.      Who in Congress might be interested?

3.      Who could give a little time to this project on an occasional basis?

a.       We report back to this emerging caucus, with new ideas and new developments from the field

b.      The Caucus reports to us, keeping us informed, and offering suggestions about what really works, and what the real issues are

4.      We could begin by offering an initial framework and set of suggestions

5.      We can provide a “resource manual” that includes a wide range of ideas, and lists many organizations and people working in these area

a.       Basic introduction to these ideas

6.      As the core of this caucus begins to form, with just a few members, we begin to develop a wide-ranging support network across the USA, organized over the internet, and interconnecting many groups and individuals concerned with these issues

a.       This group becomes loosely affiliated with the Congressional action

b.      Generally, this emerging network is designed to support congressional leaders with the vision and courage to explore and pursue this agenda

c.       Members of this support network are actively expanding the project, building more connections and drawing in more groups

d.      There are local groups that meet in person, convening local dialogues and discussions on issues that are important within that community

e.       These local issue groups can be interconnected across geographical distances through the internet, so that a sense of national consensus or awareness begins to form

f.       Local groups offer their own ideas on “what works” – these ideas contribute to an overall national sense of what works and what does not.  This approach can be flexible; everybody “does not have to play by the same rules”

7.      Political workability: we want to design this project in a way that works within the context of real-world partisan/party politics, so that it does not appear to be the emergence of a “third party” in some way, or as an “independent” or “non-affiliated” initiative.  This might be a sensitive issue at times, but we would like to position this project in a way that supports Obama, and supports the Democratic Party.

8.      We would like to work with initiatives that are emerging through Barack Obama, including his concepts on local community organizing



“The Better Angels of our Nature”

Abraham Lincoln

First Inaugural Address

Monday, March 4, 1861




In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to "preserve, protect, and defend it."


I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.