A Cognitive Infrastructure for Progressives

Politics in the 21st Century will be based on new understandings of what it means to be human. Cutting-edge research in the cognitive and behavioral sciences has much to offer in helping reveal how political behavior works. The progressive movement can benefit greatly from these insights by investing in a cognitive infrastructure – the ideas, values, and modes of thought that express our progressive vision.

Last year, Evan Frisch and I wrote an article urging the progressive movement to think deeper and more strategically in order to succeed. In What Obama Can’t Do for the Progressive Movement, we outlined a set of insights, observations, and suggestions for building a cognitive infrastructure:

Create a new progressive infrastructure that embodies our ideals and values. This includes a cognitive infrastructure – the ideas, values and modes of thought that express the progressive vision. Simply churning out more policy proposals and statistical analyses without taking into account what people understand the situation to be will leave the populace bored, confused, and distant from the political process.

We urged progressives to wake up and see the deficiencies in our current fund-raising strategies, advocacy efforts, and institutional forms. Now that Obama has been elected President of the United States, I’d like to return to these themes because they are more relevant than ever before.

Please take a few minutes and read this article. Think seriously about the concerns we raise. Consider the viability of the solutions we offer. The future of humanity in this time of global crises will be determined by our ability to build effective political institutions and other mechanisms for social change.

Best regards,

Joe Brewer

Founder, Cognitive Policy Works

Cognitive Policy Works specializes in providing organizations and individuals with frame analysis, policy briefs, strategic advising, and training.