[H]ave progressives yet found the domestic leverage to shift national tectonics? If obscene income and asset inequality has not exploded widespread confidence in our economic system, what will?"
A crucial, unifying challenge must find root and be voiced by progressives to awaken the next generation to vote as if their future literally depended on it".
If potential progressives are not embraced in a language that connects with their worlds, we will sabotage our quest. A first, modest step is a collective, progressive "clearinghouse' that refines how and what to address growing populations. Populist movements that do not grow shrink. If a change movement fails to disrupt the status quo, entrenched oligarchs win by holding their own.
It's easy, and comforting, to decide that the problems in Washington and those national in scope--climate change; unemployment; inequality and its relentless erosion of opportunity and hope; the roadblocks repeatedly thrown up to restrict women's health choices; the savagery of spending cuts pummeling those who can least put up resistance, dictated by those who shamelessly display their utter lack of concern and appalling inhumanity; a looming energy supply challenge carefully masked by artful manipulators of facts and reality to protect their own interests at everyone else's expense--don't matter in one's tiny little place on the planet.
If it doesn't impact me today, then I'm okay. Meanwhile, on and on go the efforts by the few to enhance, expand, preserve, and protect what's theirs. There will be an ugly reckoning at some point.
It won't end--at least it won't end well--unless we all decide it must.
The challenge, to be sure, is a great one. A well-orchestrated messaging machine has filled the void left by those on the Left who ignore the simplest of strategies in trying to communicate their own messages.
Loud (and let's not forget ignorant and arrogant as well) voices preach the gospel of tax reform for the wealthy and spending cuts for everyone else; they urge limited government except when matters of privacy or personal health choices demand full-blown intrusion (a healthy dollop of hypocrisy helps smooth the way); they rely on an imaginary Deity to rid us of concerns about what we're doing to our planet rather than anchor themselves here in reality, and then tie it all up neatly with carefully-massaged talking points on a host of other obstacles, principles, and policy proposals. Each and all defy attempts to shoehorn their words into acceptable definitions of fair, decent, or fact-based.
It's an impressive series of accomplishments, all the more so if integrity, honesty, character, and compassion don't matter at all. How nice for them! Certainly the Deity they worship (when it's most convenient), if It does exist, must wonder every moment what It did to deserve such idiots as Its primary mouthpieces--impressive though their efforts are to contort and pervert the noblest of Its ideals.
But the Right would not persist in these tactics were they not so successful at numbing the ability of supporters to engage in some introspection and assessment about how all of this will play out in real time.
It is morality, not just the right policy, that excites voters, that moves them to action - that creates movements. Legislative action must come from a moral center, with moral language repeated over and over.
What I have found is that conservatives have a deeper insight into their worldview than liberals have into theirs. Conservatives talk constantly about the centrality of morality and the family in their politics, while liberals did not talk about these things until conservatives started winning elections by doing so. My findings indicate that the family and morality are central to both worldviews. But where conservatives are relatively aware of how their politics relates to their views of family life and morality, liberals are less aware of the implicit view of morality and the family that organizes their own political beliefs. This lack of conscious awareness of their own political worldview has been devastating to the liberal cause.
It seems that too often, those on the Left are too concerned about not stooping to the low tactics used constantly by extremists on the Right. Their preference instead is to talk policy and facts, etc., etc., convinced that just a small dose of truth, facts, and reality will convince those fooled by the Right's hypocrisy to join them in their struggles against that very hypocrisy. Excellent theory; doesn't work, but it's an excellent theory!
How about this, instead: talk about our own values; what we cherish most about this nation, and how our vision and our ideals afford more of us the opportunities and hopes we all seek than do the narrowly-focused proposals of the louder voices of the Right. Of course, the problem we then confront is that we have about six hundred different versions of those values, and many thousands of spokespeople offering up tens of thousands of interpretations. Not good. Not effective. Not helpful--to us or to anyone else.
This is the real reason why we lose. It isn't that their ideas are better. The difference is entirely in the execution. They set the agendas and we react to them, plain and simple. So what can we do about this dire situation? Again, the answer is easy to state:
Progressives need to engage in a values-based strategy that builds trust across the issue silos. We need to focus on building communities of shared identity that bind us together.
Not all that daunting when you get right down to it. The message is simple enough. Sharing it should be as well. They do it all the time. We can--we must--do no less. (We can add complexities and variations and interpretations and expansions and addenda later.)
We'll do it better, and we'll all be better off for it.
Starting now would be an excellent time and strategy.