Table of Contents

Be part of a real progressive movement
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So you want to be part of a real progressive movement?  You’ve come to the right place. We’re tired of sitting idly by hoping that our elected officials will set a bold and visionary agenda for progressive change.  We know that our political system is fundamentally broken and that swapping out one corporate-sponsored politician for another is only going to preserve, if not strengthen, the status quo. And we’re tired of waiting for wealthy progressives to get the message that they n [...]


In the spirit of engagement, we are approaching this strategy handbook in a new way. From its inception, this has been a groundbreaking endeavor. It was not funded by the usual suspects—those wealthy donors who pool their resources for elite control of political parties and philanthropic institutions. This handbook is the first of its kind because it was paid for by the crowd as a crowdfunded project. We have reached across the for-profit/non-profit divide and contracted with our community [...]


Here we are in the early days of 2011, feeling the significance of this moment. We find ourselves standing at a crossroad in American history, a junction with two paths before us. One road winds onward toward an empire controlled by powerful elites whose riches pile high behind the security gates of their walled-off communities. In that land of scorched earth and darkened sky, the working people find themselves in a state of perpetual debt, indentured servants to the machines of industry th [...]


Want a slogan that captures the gist of progressive political strategies in America today? Too little, too late sums it up nicely. While conservatives invest hundreds of millions each year in a vast network of think tanks, media outlets, and talent recruitment centers all focused on spreading their vision of America, progressives remain divided against ourselves in a hundred issue silos and mired in reactionary tactics that constantly keep us on the defensive. Conservatives dominate the medi [...]


The rest of this handbook provides a framework for cultivating new capacities for the progressive movement, which can be broken down into four elements: Know the Landscape Set the Agenda Prepare to Engage Be an Innovator Simply put, we want to take actions that increase our ability to influence the trajectory of America over time. But action is meaningless without knowing the landscape that sets our context, enables us to see what is possible now, and gives us clues as to how thing [...]


America has already begun a fundamental transition. Many vested interests cling to the status quo without realizing that the world has changed under their feet. But progressives already know the truth: It has changed, and there’s no turning back. This fundamental truth will define the future of America and shape the progressive response throughout the global community, both at home and abroad. The changes we’re facing in this century are so different that we can’t rely on tactics we [...]


By now you’re probably wondering where the strategy guidance comes in. We don’t presume to know everything that will be needed. We’ll provide many insights and ideas, as well as some process structure, but we’re also counting on the crowd to contribute in these areas (and others) as well. Our contribution comes from years working as cognitive scientists, social scientists, and political strategists. So we’ll get the conversation started by explaining how progressives can frame the [...]


At the beginning of this handbook, we said that we need new models of engagement in order to succeed. Two major developments enable us to vastly improve how we engage one another: The cognitive and behavioral sciences have matured enough that we now understand how motivation and engagement work at a deep level; and Social media tools have appeared on the scene and are rapidly being adopted by people around the world, providing new pathways for engaging broad communities of people. Let [...]


Now is the time for bold change. Two years ago, we rallied around a campaign with this theme. It was exciting. People were engaged. And then… the same old game played on because we didn’t change the system. We still have the same congressional rules, the same corporate-sponsored elections, and the same dominant media institutions setting the agenda for American politics. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that we haven’t seen bold change come out of Washington. Replacing an ou [...]


Are you fired up and ready to take action? The name of the game is empowered interactivity and the wisdom resides in the crowd, so we’re going to need a way to work together. And we need to come up with projects that have a strategic impact. In the words of George Lakoff: “The most powerful form of thinking is strategic. It is not just a matter of thinking ahead. It is a matter of changing the landscape of thought and action. It is a matter of setting many things in motion by setting [...]


Joe Brewer Founder & Director of Cognitive Policy Works [email protected] I am a social change strategist and facilitator of idea implementation for people seeking to innovate at the intersection of the advocacy, policy, and technology worlds. Throughout the last decade I have sought to understand human values and behavior through the study of cognitive semantics and complex systems with the goal of helping build livable communities. Eric Haas J.D., Ph.D., Consu [...]


This handbook is meant to be a conversation starter.  We realize that there are many fundamental issues that will need to be addressed as we collaboratively build tools, resources, and insights into the strengthening of the progressive movement.  In this section, we will introduce Strategy Workgroups on topics of major significance.  Each will be hosted as a blog article on the Cognitive Policy Works website as a discussion forum for developing and implementing strategies together. The fir [...]