This discussion is now closed.
show all (26)
There are no comments. Click the text to your left to make a new comment.

I agree that it makes sense for people of a left-wing/compassionate persuasion to call themselves progressive, but I believe it is a mistake, though perhaps it is too late for a mass rebranding.

In the UK, the term is beginning to be co-opted by the Conservatives, and was nauseatingly used by the New Labour government, despite many of their policies being diametrically opposed to what most Brits would define as ‘progress’.

Essentially my problem with it is that anyone can be defined as progressive according to their value system. E.g. when the pathological old white men of the GOP fight to prevent the extension of basic healthcare to millions of Americans who previously had none, this is ‘progress’ according to their value-system and world view.

I don’t have the perfect suggestion for a replacement, but would offer ‘compassionates’ as an alternative…


    One of the major findings from Lakoff’s work on moral worldviews in politics is that American Progressive perspectives are organized around the concepts of empathy and shared responsibility, which gets to the heart of what you are saying.

    At the same time, American Conservative perspectives are most centrally concerned with preservation of authority figures, individual discipline, and self-control which marginalizes feelings of compassion through the separation of loyalty to in-groups from the distrust toward out-groups.

    We are focusing here on the narrative arc, whether the political group is moving forward through creative exploration or moving backward through efforts to preserve historic institutional models.

Interesting link, though I was expecting to see the actual research. I’m curious how the ‘tipping point’ plays into all of this.


When I click on that link a #404 error appears ~ I mean ~ how much of a ‘moment of zen’ is needed?

You have to learn from your history to plan for the future and live in the present.

I would focus on past successful progressive actions against ‘corporatism’ ~ I would refer you to the union miners as a start.


#6 & #7 are aligned. There are people who fear change, as #6 says. And there are people who seek change, as in #7. The key to linking these two groups is to absolve the fear-factor by showing the benefits of change. #6 wants to stay in one place, where they feel comfortable and safe. #7 is scary to #6. We must eliminate the fear-factor that change engenders in #6, and welcome them as sisters and brothers in a world that is constant only in its change.


The complexity of #15 is part of the fear of #6. We must show simple, direct connectings between events, and how those connectings yield the self-reinforcing-adapting life-system we are describing.


The Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex


I think that everything else follows from this point “the fact that corporate money has a stranglehold on both political parties.” I think if we could agree to address this, and work together on it, everything else would fall into place.


I wonder if anyone has tested the premise from the Psychology Today article that appeals to rationality can trump appeals based on fear of death/loss.


I’m sure the people have wisdom of whats wrong and what we need forthe better of our country, that said it’s not late yet.
We need the changes that this great country and nation deserve it.


I agree with Shelley. Our main focus should be on the corporate takeover of our country. Although there are other important progressive issues that need to be addressed, this issue has the least potential for divisive splintering within the movement.


THE ENEMY is not a person or a group of people. It is a SYSTEM. That system is buttressed by an ideology. I have made a study of how the right wing think. In the area of ideas, we must fight these ideas everywhere and at all times.


SUPERSTRUCTURE. Leftwing thinking recognizes the economic structure of society, (in other words, the actual basis which supports the judicial, religious, cultural and political edifice,) as being that which determines the level of social consciousness. The wealthy right wing have received not just wealth, but additionally the infrastructure that has allowed them to amass that wealth: banks, the Federal Reserve, the stock market, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the legal system, federally-sponsored research, patents, tax supports, the military protection of foreign investments, and more.

THE RIGHTWING’S ORIGINAL SIN. Because the right is busy trying to cover up its original sin—that of making money at the expense of all comers, if possible, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what they are talking about, and as a result the consciousness of the population is confused. It is important for people to understand that when there is talk about morality, religion, politics, what they are really talking about, whether they themselves realize it or not, is money. This can easily be seen if we look into history. The roots of American puritanism lie in the Protestant Reformation in Europe. The traditional Roman Catholic prohibitions of (a) any lending of money at interest as “usury,” (b) the monastic glorification of poverty as an ascetic ideal, and (c) the Roman Catholic system of holidays as times when no work was to be done, were all seen by the rising merchant class (whose heirs are the American upper middle class) as obstacles to financial development. True to form, rather than object to the real economic reasons for their revolt, they took what they considered the moral high ground, usig a moralistic smoke screen against “venal priests” and general licentiousness that was permitted by a forgiving church. (Unconditional forgiveness is a fundamental tenet of the Catholic Church. Protestants consider it a sign of weakness. Their forgiveness is never unconditional).

FREE WILL. The justification for their objections is closely tied to the idea of free will. Whereas the Catholics could sin and be forgiven, the Protestants, even if they were to be forgiven, must be punished anyhow because they have “made a choice”. This is why we find politicians and others who have strayed welcomed back into the fold, but are also fired from their jobs. A number of Southern Baptist ministers believed Clinton should be forgiven, if he repented, but that he also should resign because he was no longer fit to hold office. All taint must be wiped clean for the sake of capitalism’s good reputation. There is free will, you have a choice, and they made their choice, now they must pay for it. The idea of “choice” is a recurring theme among capitalists. It is seen as a blessing for those with tenacity, work ethic and determination. That is how one wins (gets rich). If you choose unwisely, poverty is the probable, and well deserved, option. This idea is closely tied to that of the “freeloader” who is too lazy to choose, and in turn this gives rise to the idea of a superior people (those who choose wisely) and an inferior people (those who choose unwisely, those who would rather have a good time than work hard for their rewards). A perfect example of their obsession with choice is their recoiling against Obama’s health bill as “mandatory”. (There is nothing mnadatory about it, but the right turns a deaf ear). Often the right slips and expresses what they really feel, calling the American public “the sheeple”, that is, a herd who have renounced free will, and not a series of individuals ready to compete. The right bristles at charges of racism; they would welcome people of color who follow the puritannical agenda, but those with a different tradition, who are a vast majority, are seen as taking away the hard-earned good life of the right.

POSITIVISM. To butress their rather shaky ideology, the right plunges headlong into positive thinking. It is considered impolite to criticize, and in some cases even to tell the truth. To an American rightwinger, greatness is guaranteed if negativity is kept at bay. To tend, unflinchingly toward a goal, no matter what the reality is, is the secret of success. Capitalism has its belief system, and to contradict it in any way lands you in the enemy camp. Thus attitude and positive thinking are paramount. The wrong word and the market could fall. The right word, even if it is a lie, and the market could go up. A smart Republican never advocates ‘drilling for oil'; he prefers ‘exploring for energy.’ He should attack ‘Washington,’ with its ceaseless thirst for taxes and regulations. They refrain from using the word “outsourcing,” because they will then be asked to defend or end the practice of allowing companies to ship American jobs overseas. The concept of framing links with that of agenda-setting: by consistently invoking a particular frame, the framing party may effectively control discussion and perception of the issue. The problem, of course, that the real world can interfere and throw a monkey wrench in the works. For idealism, as opposed to realism, to work, everyone in the world would have to subscribe to it, and millions do not. The right sets about trying to get the world to adopt its world view, (to Christianize, as well as capitalize the world) and those who refuse are branded as the enemy. “They are hurting their own cause”. Ultimately, positivism is an ideological strategy that tries to show the inferiority of marginalized groups (those who are not puritans, those who complain, dissent, or otherwise tell the truth) in order to justify their further exploitation. Positivists are not interested in the common good; they focus on the individual, (they are proudly mavericks) and not on class interest, which they see as slavery.

The right is so adept at twisting what is obviously to their detriment into a bizarre plus for them, that Bill Kristol was able, with a straight face, say that “Obama won the election because Bush was protecting the country since 9/11 and we were winning in Iraq so the question of national security receded into the background, and voters were able to vote their unhappiness with the stock market crash. Without the surge we would have come out in defeat. No good deed goes unpunished.” Since the capitalist right is unable to address criticism rationally, because it really does create poverty and wreaks havoc wherever it takes hold, it refuses to accept criticism, once again changing the subject ad hominem, accusing its critics of engaging in “class warfare”, of not being patriotic (patriotism is equated with capitalism) and of the most grievious sin of all, not being positive and optimistic. They are terrified of exploring an issue to its ultimate consequences, and insist of working exclusively within their own established, safe parameters. Language takes on a particular importance, since “speaking truth to power” is considered rude and clownish. Only accepted words may be used, all others bring down opprobrium on the critic’s head. By bringing up irrelevancies and ignoring unpleasant truths, the capitalist right hopes to take the heat off its own destructive policies. Here we can see the reason why they rail against “egghead” scientists and intellectuals who might discover the real functions behind the smokescreen of capitalism, and they hope to gather about them those who they condescendingly regard as “the common people”, people who they have carefully nurtured in ignorance through a privatized, quasi religious educational system.

The American “Dream” is a direct result of the European immigrants of the 19th Century who came to “America” and made good. US Americans don’t realize that many immigrants went to other countries in America, from Mexico to Argentina and did the same thing. The Dream, however, is uniquely North American. These ideas can be found earlier, from the Pilgrims escaping persecution to Andrew Jackson’s removal of the Seminoles from their ancestral lands, passing through Manifest Destiny that gave the right to Americans to take possession of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Phillipines. Hollywood transformed the dark satire of Don Quijote into “dreaming the impossible dream”, and Martin Luther King earned his place in history with a dream about equality. Every high school graduating class is admonished to “hold on to their dreams”. If high school teaches nothing else, it burns that into young minds. The Dream is actually code for working hard and becoming a millionaire, the capitalist ideal, through “democracy,” a code word for American exceptionalism. No one bothers to explain that a system built on savage dog eat dog competition can be democratic. The road is littered with millions of bodies of sick and conquered peoples, the dead and the dying, the disillusioned and the deceived.

HANDOUTS TO THE POOR AND WORKERS. The right winger has been taught to work hard, and anyone who gets something for nothing is a deadbeat. He is incensed over “hand outs”, which contradicts his sense of the work ethic. He is indignant about “rewarding failure” amd “throwing money at a problem” (AIG and other bailouts are OK), or another favorite, “throwing good money after bad.” . (Never mind that the biggest handouts, such as the home mortgage bailouts, are routinely given to the richest investors). When the feds start to give the common people handouts that means that everyone else who works hard is supporting them. “I don’t want to work so some drunk can get benefits and live off my taxes.” Those who demand entitlements are whiny slackers. “We conservatives don’t like programs that give entitlements with no reqirements on behalf of the recipient. We don’t like paying for other peoples’ lifestyles after we’ve indivually worked so hard to be able to afford our own lifestyles. While we’re a people that value giving the needy a hand up, we would rather not give a hand-out. ” (Sarah Palin). The rightwing enthusistically curtail benefits for welfare mothers who have children out of wedlock, and would do away with those benefits entirely if they could. At the heart of the issue is the idea of paying taxes and other subsidies to improve the lives of ordinary Americans, or paying nothing so that the super rich can amass greater fortnes with no wandering dollar winding up in the public coffers.

BENEFITS TO THE RICH ARE THEIR DUE. Budget tightening, however, only applies to government programs designed for people in need. After “we’ve indivually worked so hard to be able to afford our own lifestyles,” the right feels justified in using worker’s taxes to pay for any and all private enterprise programs, from waging war for the benefit of war profiteers, to building an infrastructure for the benefit of corporations so they can pocket the profits, what has been called “welfare for the rich”. The problem is not the “handouts”, but who gets them. Government borrowing supposedly “crowds out” private investment. At a certain point the rightwing ceases to “work hard”. they have lost their incentive, poor things. They conveniently ignore the fact that their wealth is amassed by paying the lowest possible salaries and benefits, not paying any or all of their taxes, and making the public pay for the infrastructure that makes their businesses possible. Since they believe that their money has arrived, magically, because they are “the best”, they feel entitled to a lavish living style; parties where coke abounds, private jets, chauffeurs and servants of every kind, including escorts of all sexes.They buy office buildings and manorial homes all over the world as a hobby, with an eye toward selling them with a profit.

CHARITY. The right wing’s answer to social problems is charity. Rather than invest in social services (throwing money at a problem), capitalists recurr to their favorite ploy; that of voluntarily addressing social problems, as long as “the government” is not involved. Thus they urge the population to ” Enlist in our Armed Forces. Become a teacher. Enter the ministry. Run for public office. Feed a hungry child. Teach an illiterate adult to read. Comfort the afflicted. Defend the rights of the oppressed.” Would you like to donate a dollar for homeless children?” says the ATM machine at the store. That way we can wash our hands of the issue and the citizen-shopper once more has the social burden thrust upon him/her. As long as the taxes of the working population are used to buttress privatized capitalist enterprise, and not to solve social problems, the “good people” of capitalism will advocate working with the poor, preferrably through profitable churches, and inspiring them to better themselves, to be celibate and work hard for almost no pay. Institutions must be privatized and as soon as they are no longer profitable, they must be abandoned

LIBERALS. The right sees “liberals” as people who refuse to subscribe to their ideas of rugged individualism, and who advocate the dreaded collectivism. They immediately set about trying to demonize them. Since Jews have been in the forefront of the peace movement and other progressive movements, there is a heavy dose of anti-Semitism. The Jews, runs the narrative, tell the Blacks what to do, and they are trying to take over the country. (These ideas are seemingly confirmed with an Obama presidency and staffers such as Rohm Emmanuel. That Obama is the president means little, since the right is convinced he is a figurehead, and the Jews are secretly running things). At the same time liberals are wimps and shiftless. The right mocks them with “boo hoo-grow up-get a job!” (It is common for a fat man representing a “liberal” to dress in a diaper at Republican conventions, suck on a baby bottle and cry “boo hoo”), They wont’t fight in a war, and they advocate surrender in a dangerous world, keeping up a running fear-mongering commentary. But liberals are not a majority, the rightwing is. The right turns itself into a pretzel by simultaneously deriding Obama (or in another context Chavez or Fidel Castro) as “popular as a rock star” “charismatic” “populist” and “elitist”, all at the same time, while unable to explain how the the right can be a majority in those circumstances. They try to usurp what is rightfully the rightwing’s –ownership of plain, ordinary (white and protestant) working Americans. They do their best to create a master narratives that makes Democrats, liberals, and “the media” into the cultural enemies of ordinary working people. When liberals get into the halls of power, these same wimps are miraculously transformed into a dangerous menace.

ELITISM. In this strategy, every little Democratic misstep is inflated into a cultural parable, while gaping holes in the Republican story are neatly sidestepped. The master narrative of Obama as an unqualified elitist is reinforced again and again, as it was with Palin lines like these: “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities.” “I might add that in small towns, we don’t quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren’t listening. We prefer candidates who don’t talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.” Liberals are two-faced, pretend to be your friend while engaging in machinations behid your back. The right are straight-talkers., never mind that they are all from ivy league universities. The status symbols of private jets and five and six houses typical of rich Republicans apparently don’t count as “elitism”.

MACHISMO. Closely tied the idea of the chauvinist, jingoist, can-do white supremist is the idea of the macho man. In contrast to pacifist wimps, the right offers a sanguine picture of individualistic hyper-masculine men prone to equate justice with violence and punishment. When one looks at the actual men in office and the actual CEO’s one sees a bevy of fat, old, cranky men and women who have little in common with the glamorous idea of Hollywood action heroes. A macho could coceivably have some nobility, but the enemies of “liberal wimps” are so lacking in real courage that all we see is hostile, prejudiced, racist, nationalist (the nation is more important than humanity) destructive, backward looking, ignorant, arrogant, death-before-dishonor jingoist bullies. “It is irrelevant whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction or not, they feel, “we” took the fight to him. Stop apologizing for America. We are the good guys and they are the bad guys.” Kenneth W. Starr was uncompromising, disciplined and straight back-boned. Tommy Franks won 3 medals of valor and was made a four-star general of American and coalition troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and won the order of the British Empire. Ignoring the US role in first attacking those countries, at a Republican convention he brought up old wounds. ” To prevent 9/11 we should have dealt with 1979 Teheran, 1983 Beirut, 1991 incomplete mission in Iraq, 1993 with our wonderful Rangers dead in Mogadishu, Somalia, 1996 the World Trade Center 1996, 1998 the embassies in East Africa, 2000 the USS Cole.” John McCain waxed rhapsodic; “We believe in a strong defence, work, faith, service, a culture of life, personal responsibility, the rule of law. We believe in the values of families, neighbourhoods and communities. I liked to strut a little after I’d been roughed up to show the other guys I was tough enough to take it. I got back up and fought again for our country and for the men I had the honour to serve with. Fight for what’s right for our country, for the ideals and character of a free people. for our children’s future, for justice and opportunity for all. Defend our country from its enemies. We’re Americans, and we never give up. We never quit.” “Obama, complained Sarah Palin, is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting, and never use the word “victory.”

BORROWING. All wealth originates with production. At some point this trueism has seen the gradual merging of banking and industrial monopolies, leading to an imperialist economy. The availability of interest across nations allows for loans that produce “magic money” that appears out of nowhere, and is manifested merely as numbers on a computer, not tied to production. Extending long range credit allows the banks to control the economies of other countries, and additionaly their politics. The rationale is that borrowed funds that are printed to order (unlike the expenditure of tax revenues, which do come from the working population) will generate added disposable income, enhance the demand for the products of private industry, and make private investment more profitable, creating more jobs. The problem is that when something goes wrong the money is not really there, and the whole house of cards comes tumbling down. In a panic, when the capitalist has mopped up all the profits but cannot meet his responsibilities, he promises to reform the financial and regulatory systems, but because he is inextricably tied to free market principles, which according to him, offer the surest path to lasting prosperity, he is unable to do anything but repeat the same process over again and again. “The crisis was not a failure of the free market system. And the answer is not to try to reinvent that system. It is to fix the problems we face, make the reforms we need, and move forward with the free market principles that have delivered prosperity and hope to people all across the globe.” (George Bush). On the contrary, this anarchy of production results in the contradiction between the social character of production and the private confiscation of production, and thus makes the recurring crises inevitable

OFF SUBJECT. One of the reactions of the right to criticism is to throw up a smoke screen and change the subject. If Obama attacks the costly and murderous war in Iraq, or the economic crash of Wall Street, they will immediately come back with the argument that he has support because he is a slick talker, and not because people have died in war or are jobless, and he has promised to do something about it. Obama is wrong in being against the war or supporting social programs- he is just smooth and shallow, like a rock star. Another “reason” he won is that the media did a hatchet job on Sarah Palin. Michelle is an angry black woman. If the left addresses racism, they argue that Blacks have it better here than in Africa, and they pretend to be victims because they want a free ride. The right’s rebuttal to criticism is “get a job”. Someone running for office on economic grounds has his/her patriotism questioned. For example, little is said by the right on the consequences of their agenda, the stock market crash, mismanagement by the fed, the devaluation of the dollar, the national debt, the high price of gasoline, the impossible college tuitions, the crumbling high schools, the thousands who die from lack of health care, the subprime loans and bankruptcies, dismantling social security, the media as a propaganda machine, the homeless, the high unemployment rate, reduced salaries and benefits, the 2 million in US prisons, torture, withdrawing from the war in the middle east, plans to invade new countries, the squandering of resources by the war profiteering pentagon, increasing taxes on the rich to pay for social services, or tax-payer-subsidized bail outs. Any deeper probing as to the causes of these phenomena is met with accusations of being “unpatriotic” (and where Israel is involved, “antiSemitic”) and “giving aid and comfort to the enemy”. If they deal with any of these at all, it is obliquely, changing the subject so that capitalism is never understood to be the cause.

LIES ABOUT SOCIALISM. What socialism actually consists of has been turned into one more bogey man to trump any argument by analogy, proceeding from the erroneous premise that two or more objects (in this case socialist countries) observed are necessarily the same. Consistent with the fantasy world they have constructed with polite words, the right insists that the socialist experiment has yielded devastating results. The mantra is that “socialism has failed”, ignoring the fact that, as Martha Harnecker says, “because someone burned the dinner does not mean that there is anything wrong with the recipe.” There is scarcity under socialism, they argue, caused by an implacable bureaucracy (as if General Motors were not a giant bureacracy). Socialism enslaves people. There is no freedom. There is no equality under capitalism, but that is as it should be, as long as there is freedom to be unequal. Equality under socialism is boring, (implying that poverty under capitalism is interesting) and there is no innovation because there is no competition. Never mind that the Soviets launched the first Sputnik ever, it couldn’t have happened, because they don’t have the entrepeneurial spirit. Soviet communism, they insist, starved millions, bankrupted an empire, and collapsed as decisively as the Berlin Wall. Cuba, once known for its vast fields of cane, is now forced to ration sugar. And while Iran sits atop giant oil reserves, its people cannot put enough gasoline in their cars. (It would take good old Yankee know how (another code word for capitalism) to get things going again). Now that the USSR is defunct, Americans don’t want a European style socialist government, either, (Kerry would have been “America’s first French president” code for “socialism”) because the government disproportionately takes money from the wealthy to redistribute to the poor to ensure a decent standrad of living for them. To the right, anything they don’t like is “socialism” although socialism is never defined or explained in depth. Obama’s comments about a national security force similar to the WPA and the CCC under the New Deal came during a speech in which he called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military by expanding the nation’s civilian forces. The right reacted in horror at “collectivization”, claiming they will be thrown into slavery, even though there is nothing coercive in Obama’s volunteer program., and the army as it now stands is plenty coercive. They make no distinction between socialism and fascism; they allege that that was what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s what the Soviet Union did.

POPULISM. The right’s take on social issues does not include the vast majority; the workers and the unemployed. Unspoken are the masses of really poor, homeless, people living out of garbage cans or what they can hustle. They don’t exist at all in Rightwing America. Their version of “the people” is an idealized Ozzie and Harriet small town existence- decent, hard working, involved in some small business, white and protestant. Sarah Palin, for example, is “one of the people.” She’s the mother of five children. She’s helped run a small business, worked with her hands and knows what it’s like to worry about mortgage payments and health care and the cost of gasoline and groceries. She most certainly does not work in a factory, and she is not a waitress or nurse. She is NOT a single mother on welfare, she is NOT an illegal immigrant, she is NOT a family living in a trailer. In a subtle way, the right paints ordinary American people as white and middle class, leaving millions out of the picture, no matter how much they may strain at getting the popular vote. “They are the ones who do some of the hardest work in America … who grow our food, run our factories, and fight our wars.They love their country, in good times and bad, and they’re always proud of America.”. Contrasted with these are the evil but unspecified “special interests, the lobbyists, big oil companies, and the good-ol’ boys network.” The problem is that the party of capitalism gulps down small businesses for breakfast in a headlong run to create monopolies, and the Republican aristocracy is anything but populist. Few people are fooled by their patronizing stab at being just plain folks.

DENIAL OF EVOLUTION. Anyone who promotes evolution is saying that things will change. The right cannot bear this, because it tries to preserve the status quo by protecting the ruling class and metaphysically denying the evolution of history. (There can only be isolated changes while the system remains intact.) This is a not only a denial of natural processes, but more to the point, a denial of politics. Clinton, they say, was not the beginning of a new democratic era— the GOP took the Congress back. The republicans suffer temporary setbacks, but they will always be here because capitalism (the best of all possible worlds) will always be here. True to a religious-fantastic idealist approach, they offer only vague promises of redemption, used to cover up the fact that they are dominating, undemocratic and oppose equality, are desirous of money and personal power, amoral, intimidating, secretely hedonistic, vengeful, pitiless, exploitive, manipulative, dishonest (they cheat to win), highly prejudiced (racist, sexist, homophobic, mean-spirited, militant nationalists who glorify war), psychophants who tell others what they want to hear, while taking advantage of advantage of “suckers” for whom they have contempt and characterize as welfare freeloaders. Their opinion of ordinary Americans is such that anyone getting help from the government is automatically “gaming the system”. They are equally ready to accuse those who lost their homes, ignoring the fact that the salespeople were trained to lie and misrepresent the mortgage agreement. They specialize in creating false images to sell themselves, they are submissive to authority while at the same time aggressive on behalf of authority, all the while insisting that your future is in your hands, and if you fail its your fault because you are lazy, and they are going on to success and can’t be bothered by anyone dragging them down. They are highly conventional in their behavior, afraid of new ideas even when new ideas become an imperative. They are highly religious, in keeping with their “wishing will make it so” ideology, which is consistent with their lack of education, or, alternately, their being home schooled, or educated by “teachers” as idealistic and ignorant and anti-scientific as they. This inability to analyze makes them uncritically trusting of authority, they think nothing of following others’ lead in being mean spirited, narrow-minded intolerant bullying, zealous and dogmatic. In no time their hypocrisy comes to the fore, and they become inconsistent and contradictory, prone to panic easily, highly self-righteous and moralistic. Their extreme Puritanism makes them strict disciplinarians, severely punitive, people demand loyalty above all else. (“What is there about illegal immigration that you don’t understand? It’s illegal!” They shout triumphantly, ignoring that women’s right to vote was once illegal, and oblivious to St. Agustine’s dictum “An unjust law is no law at all, and there is no obligation to follow it.”). They possess little self-awareness. Somewhere in their subconscious they realize that things cannot go on as they are, and that the working class they loathe and fear will some day take over, so their insistence that “nothing evolves” is a source of comfort.

COMPARTMENTALIZATION. We can have blacks versus whites, gays versus straights, Catholics versus Protestants, urban versus rural, North versus South –young versus old, brand name vs generic. Ignorant people automatically emphasize “difference” and gravitate toward one or the other, not realizing that issues must be handled inclusively, and not as “either—or” The right’s modus operandum is consistent with capitalist practices of compartmentalization, a certain way of assuring a class structure gap that widens more every day. A product will be categorized at a certain price, while the same product, because it is in a different category, will become a “luxury item” and cost more. A few items will be on sale, and the product in its totality brings in high profits, since it is addressing different sectors, it is worth the same in each case, but the different prices allow it to yield profits that wouldn’t be there if the product was sold at the same price to everyone. Another example of compartmentalization in action is the practice of a two-tier wage system in which the pay for new hires is cut in half. Medical premiums are sought after those under 65 years old, but those over 65 are denied. The infamous Medicare Part D provision , which compartmentalizes a gap where beneficiaries whose total drug costs reach $2400 must pay all of their prescription drug costs until $4350 is spent out of pocket, is also a case in point.

In the same way Congress people will introduce a bill with “ear marks” or “sweeteners”, to get an immoral and criminal bill passed that will benefit its corrupt author. Schools compartmentalize their subjects, so that there is no “spill over” between science, politics and economics, so that students are seldom able to see the connections that give all things meaning, and are unable to grasp the interrelatedness of all things, but remain mired in mechanics, compartmentalizing and isolating phenomena. A cardiologist is unable and unwilling to diagnose and discuss an issue of osteoporosis. It’s not his “compartment”. Unemployment is categorized at the 6 or 7 % range, and those who have stopped looking or never worked are ignored, so that the figure will not zoom up to 30 or 40% range. They are, coveniently, in a different category. Further, unemployment will be 12% in Nevada, 10% in the Far West, 8% in the Midwest. This allows for greater social protest in some parts of the country than in other parts, thus retaining control overall by hiding a truthful assessment of the problem. . Bait-and-switch tactics do the same thing; one category is offered, but then the real cost is shown by a different category, always to the seller’s advantage, as though set in stone, because, supposedly, categories determine the price, and categories cannot be changed. Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan is a way of hiding not only the casualties, but also the actual size of the U.S. occupation force. Fearful of domestic opposition, the government intentionally lists the figures for the total number of forces as far less than the real numbers by assigning them different compartments. The right doesn’t want unity- divide and conquer is their tactic, because it is profitable and guards against others gaining momentum. . They want to set the population, whom they fear and loathe, against each other, so they can be the triumphant minority who wins, and compartmentalizing is an effective tool in this regard.

VALUES. The GOP proudly “stands on principle”, although “principle” is rarely described, as it would reveal too much that is negative and self-serving about those very principles. Those who would steal from the poor admit only to benevolence and high-mindedness, Thus the right “defends our nation (from illegals and people of color) defends our treasury (from socialism) and defends our values (puritannical) with everything they’ve got. All of the ex-slave-owning states routinely elect Republican governors. Eight of the top 10 pornography consuming states gave their electoral votes to John McCain in last year’s presidential election –The great tradition of the GOP is equality of opportunity (for those who can afford college or have backing for a business). Opportunity for all; traditional moral values, the sanctity of life (no abortions) and sanctity of marriage (between a man and a woman. No divorce) . Strong defense (carry assault weapons), limited government (privatize social programs). Willing to fight at every level for what we believe in (or at least send the working poor to fight) . They love “America” for its decency (or hypocrisy, since torture must never be admitted) , for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people (who elected twice an obviously corrupt president who oversaw the crash), because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. John McCain would “bring the compassion that comes from having once been powerless … the wisdom that comes, even to the captives, by the grace of God … the special confidence of those who have seen evil, and seen how evil is overcome. This is America, and every latino, black, or woman, can walk through every door of opportunity.” The right has taken over post-modernism so that its democratic content has been eviscerated. Thus only right-wing rich Blacks, Latinos, women, gays, Native Americans, etc. will be trotted out as proof of Republican “compassion”. Those the post-modernist movement was meant to highlight, people in the gehttoes, dead end jobs, women stuck in unhappy marriages, are left where they are—poor and ignored and demonized.

The right wing believes you cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. Strengthen the rich-they are America’s greatness. Don’t strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. Keep that strength in the face of our enemies (those competitors in the world market). Only the rich can bring about prosperity, but not by discouraging thrift. The ruling class must be prosperous if capitalism is going to work. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling the wage payer down. The rich have nothing against the poor and colored, as long as those people know their place and stay there. The rich generously give scholarships to a tiny minority of the rabble, but that is so that the chosen few from the ranks of the poor can help keep order in the face of popular unrest. You cannot further brotherhood by inciting class hatred; as long as the rich remain undisturbed there will be peace and brotherhood. Entitlements take away initiative and indepedence. Hard times, (and family connections), build character. You cannot “help” people by doing for them what they should do for themselves, since we all have equal resources to draw from. That is what being an American means.

































The sixties did not accomplish many of its goals, such as installing a socialist government. The movement did accomplish some things, and did them well. Identity politics, as opposed to class politics, came to the fore, and installed blacks, latinos, women and gays in important and influential positions, from sports to film to the very presidency. Those who thought they lived in an America giving privilege to white anglos-saxon protestants suddenly had to look at people they had ignored all their lives. It shocked them. They never believed they had to share the country with others. This is what they mean when they scream “I want my country back”. Whites feel they are “left out” now that they dont control everything, and fall back on accusations of reverse racism. This is a straw man where the majority in power pretends to be a victim in order to return to complete, undivided control over the politics and the economy of the country. They would do well if they realized that history never runs backwards. Things have changed. The very things they hated in the sixties, they now embrace. Identity politics is now not as scary as class politics. Not as long as blacks latinos women and gays are as reactionary as they, they will be welcome, and indeed they will insist on it to show they are not biased. Even the drugs of the sixties have become commonplace in right-wing board rooms. This means that the left can no longer focus on race, but must plunge into the taboo subject of class,organize the masses, and win. This is the final battle, and it will be the bloodiest.

Ghoulish Midnight Regulations
October 31st, 2008 by Karina

In the waning days of the Bush Administration, officials are rushing to roll back critical regulations protecting the rights of Americans in the workplace, at home, and in their communities.

The Bush EPA wants to allow increased emissions from older power plants while also rolling back existing air quality regulations for national parks and wilderness areas. The result: more pollution and decreased air quality and visibility.

BACKGROUND: The changes to older power plants were originally proposed in Vice President Dick Cheney’s 2001 energy plan, written by energy industry lobbyists.

QUOTE: The Washington Post condemned this “ill-advised rule that would allow old, pollution-spewing power plants to increase deadly emissions without restriction…yet another astonishing decision by an administration that insists that its record on the environment and climate change is misunderstood and underappreciated.” [EPA, “Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Nonattainment New Source Review: Emission Increases for Electric Generating Units,” 72 Federal Register 26201, 5/8/07; EPA, “Prevention of Significant Deterioration New Source Review: Refinement of Increment Modeling Procedures,” 72 Federal Register 31371, 6/6/07; McClatchy News, 10/27/08; Washington Post, 10/28/08]

Proposed regulatory changes to the Endangered Species Act would “undo more than 30 years of progress,” according to experts.

BACKGROUND: The proposed rule would allow federal agencies to ignore the views of scientists and other experts on the impacts of major actions and even forbid government officials from assessing the impact of project emissions on global warming.

QUOTE: According to John Kostyack of the National Wildlife Federation, “These changes take unbiased, professional wildlife biologists out of the equation and put decisions in the hands of political appointees.” [73 Federal Register 47868, 8/15/08; NBC, 10/22/08]

Americans’ privacy rights could be severely undermined by a Department of Justice proposed rule that would empower state and local police to collect, share, and retain sensitive information about Americans, even when no underlying crime is suspected.

BACKGROUND: Law enforcement agencies could potentially share sensitive, personal information with employers and landlords which could result in a person being fired from a job or evicted from an apartment.

QUOTE: According to the Brennan Center for Justice: “They will….eliminate important safeguards against false or misleading information being disseminated, retained, and acted upon.” [DOJ, “Criminal Intelligence Systems Operating Procedures,” [73 Federal Register 44673, 7/31/08; Brennan Center for Justice, 8/27/08]

The Department of Justice’s proposed rule would make dramatic changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act – weakening accessibility standards and reducing enforcement efforts.

BACKGROUND: Despite requests for an extension, organizations were given just 60 days to comment on the Department of Justice proposed rule changes to the ADA. The rule would reduce accessibility to state and local government facilities by allowing a single facility to fulfill the obligation under the law – for example, a school district could provide just one accessible elementary school within a district of 30 elementary schools and still be considered compliant. The rule would also remove the requirement that all complaints of discrimination against state and local governments be investigated – dramatically reducing enforcement efforts.

QUOTE: The Arc of the United States and United Cerebral Palsy commented on the proposed single facility standard: “This standard is neither workable nor reasonable. This proposed new standard would be discriminatory because it would result in unequal access for persons with disabilities, and it would also have the effect of segregating disabled and nondisabled persons.” [DOJ, “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities,” (73 FR 34508, 6/17/08); Comments on proposed ADA regulations by The Arc of the United States and United Cerebral Palsy, 8/18/08]

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has proposed a rule that would restrict outpatient hospital services Medicaid would cover for our nation’s most vulnerable Americans.

BACKGROUND: Under the new rule, Medicaid would be prohibited from covering certain services provided to Medicaid patients through outpatient hospital clinics – a common way states have provided health care to low-income communities and reduced emergency room use.

QUOTE: New York Gov. David Paterson: “At a time when states are so desperately in need of fiscal relief, the last thing we can afford is onerous federal regulations that curtail existing avenues of federal support for critical services.” [HHS/CMS, “Medicaid Program; Clarification of Outpatient Clinic and Hospital Facility Services Definition and Upper Payment Limit,” RIN 0938-AO17 (72 FR 55158, 9/28/07); Paterson testimony before the House Committee on Ways & Means, 10/29/08]

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is again planning to expand by 10percent the number of hours a truck driver can drive without adequate rest, threatening the safety of all drivers.

BACKGROUND: Despite losing twice in federal court, the Bush Administration is moving ahead with this rule.

QUOTE: Daphne Izer, founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers: “These new hours of service are not just taking a toll on the safety of truck drivers and everyone who shares the roads with big rigs, but have severe, adverse impacts on the health of truck drivers.” [DOT/FMCSA, “Hours of Service for Drivers,” RIN 2126-AB14; CNN, 12/21/07; Izer’s testimony before Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security Subcommittee, 12/19/07]

7. FAMILY PLANNING UNDER FIRE. In addition to withdrawing public funds, which they can use for their private enterprise, thisissue has an ideological component that serves to shore up support for right wing capitalists on the issue of “right to life” a demagogic and manipulative procedure that supports the most reactionary churches. Millions of women can see their health threatened under the Bush Administration plan.

BACKGROUND: The plan would threaten to cut off funding to organizations and health facilities which decline to hire people who refuse to provide birth control. The proposed rule also could effectively define many types of birth control, including oral contraception, as “abortion.”

QUOTE: Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, says the proposed rule would allow “health-care providers to decide that they will withhold essential health care treatment for women because of their own moral beliefs, not because of the medical considerations involved.” [HHS, “Ensuring that Department of Health and Human Services Funds Do Not Support Coercive or Discriminatory Policies or Practices In Violation of Federal Law,” 73 Federal Register 50274, 8/26/08; Bloomberg, 8/8/08]

14- and 15-year-olds who would be allowed to work under a Department of Labor rule could face life- and health-threatening dangers.

BACKGROUND: The rule could lead more young children to be exposed to dangerous chemicals and machinery. Additional changes would be made to the Hazardous Protection regulations for working 16- and 17-year-olds.

QUOTE: Linda Golodner, co-chair of the Child Labor Coalition, warns that the rules “will put our youngest workers at risk of even greater dangers than they currently face.” [DOL, “Child Labor Regulations, Orders and Statement of Interpretation: Nonagricultural Occupations; Employment of 14- and 15-year-olds,”(72 Federal Register 19337, 4/17/07) and “Occupations Particularly Hazardous for or Detrimental to Health or Well-Being of Employees under 18 years old,”(72 Federal Register 19328, 4/17/07); Child Labor Coalition, 7/18/07]

80 noted scientists have questioned a Department of Labor rule – developed in virtual secrecy – because it could potentially damage workers’ health.

BACKGROUND: The “Secret Rule” undermines how occupational health risk assessments are conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). The scientists called for Labor Sec. Elaine Chao to withdraw the rule.

QUOTE: Dr. Celeste Monforton of the George Washington University School of Public Health told a September 2008 Congressional hearing that the proposed changes “will impede, not improve, health protections for workers.” [DOL, “Requirements for DOL Agencies’ Assessment of Occupational Health Risks,” 73 Federal Register 50909, 8/29/08; Letter to Labor Secretary Chao from 80 scientists and experts, 8/14/08; Monforton’s testimony before House Education and Labor Committee, Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, 9/17/08]

This Department of Labor proposed rule would jeopardize the retirement security of millions of American workers because it would allow investment consultants to conceal their conflicts of interest.

BACKGROUND: This rule would allow investment consultants to offer advice to workers with 401(k)s and IRAs despite the consultants’ conflicts of interest in providing those recommendations. Especially in light of investment shenanigans by so many in the financial services industry, employees must be assured they are receiving sound and independent information for their retirement investment decisions.

QUOTE: According to Norman Stein of the Pension Rights Center, “We all know that there will be winks and nods and bonuses that will be discretionary. If conflicts are possible, they’re going to happen.” [DOL, “Proposed Class Exemption for Investment Advice to Participants and Beneficiaries of Self-Directed Individual Account Plans and IRAs,” 73 Federal Register 49924, 8/22/08; Workforce Management, 9/8/08]

Fifteen years after the enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), this Department of Labor proposed rule would make it more difficult for workers to exercise their leave rights.

BACKGROUND: Among the changes, employees could be coerced into signing a waiver of their FMLA rights and can be required to take a full day of leave when only a portion of intermittent or reduced schedule leave is needed.

QUOTE: Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families: “These are regulations that will make it harder to take advantage of the law. You will end up having more people not protected by the law.” [DOL, “The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993,” 73 Federal Register 7875, 2/11/08; Washington Post, 2/19/08]

IN pursuit of fairness at any cost, we have created a society paralyzed by legal fear: Doctors are paranoid and principals powerless. Little league coaches, scared of liability, stop volunteering. Schools and hospitals start to crumble. The common good fades, replaced by a cacophony of people claiming their “individual rights.” By turns funny and infuriating, this startling book dissects the dogmas of fairness that allow self-interested individuals to bully the rest of society. Philip K. Howard explains how, trying to honor individual rights, we removed the authority needed to maintain a free society. Teachers don’t even have authority to maintain order in the classroom. With no one in charge, the safe course is to avoid any possible risk. Seesaws and diving boards are removed. Ridiculous warning labels litter the American landscape: “Caution: Contents Are Hot.” Striving to protect “individual rights,” we ended up losing much of our freedom. When almost any decision that someone disagrees with is a possible lawsuit, no one knows where he stands. A huge monument to the unknown plaintiff looms high above America, casting a dark shadow across our daily choices. Today, in the land of free speech, you’d have to be a fool to say what you really think. This provocative book not only attacks the sacred cows of political correctness, but takes a breathtakingly bold stand on how to reinvigorate our common good. Only by restoring personal authority can schools begin to work again. Only by judges and legislatures taking back the authority to decide who can sue for what can doctors feel comfortable using their best judgment and American be liberated to say and do what they know is right. Lucid, honest, and hard hitting, The Collapse of the Common Good shows how Americans can bring back freedom and common sense to a society disabled by lawyers and legal fear.

We have had 25 years of unprecedented growth and prosperity and now the government wants to cut back on a susseccful mondel- completely ignoring that they are asking for a bail out of the bubble, so that they create a new bubble.

“There’s real concern of a sense the government is headed in a direction where the government acts like it’s going to solve all the problems, but in doing that takes away all the opportunities,” Blunt said.


When tackling this conservative vs progressive discussion, we should educate our audience on the achievements of progressives throughout history. There have always been proponents of social and political change. Our enemy is the anti-intellectualism that gained ground during the McCarthy era. They use progressive as a dirty word synonymous with Marxist, socialist and communist. They demonize intellect. The enemy of conservatives is the highly educated. They fear that which they do not understand. When we are faced with discourse on the subject it would be prudent to point out that the movers and shakers of the world have been educated people.

For instance, the founders were progressives who created a wholly different system of government built upon their rich knowledge of history and philosophy. They were highly educated men who were aware of their own flaws. Something desperately missing from governance today. Which makes the tea party’s attempts to invoke the founders rather humorous and truly a testament to the sad state of our education system.

To me I see progressives as having reached the post-conventional stage of Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. We reason morally using abstract principles based on principles of universal human rights. We are not bounded by a need to conform to rigid rule structure. We follow the mantra that “an unjust law is no law at all.” Our moral code comes from within ourselves rather than from external sets of rules. It is why we shy away from the institution of religion, and authoritarian rule of governance.

We need to own the fact that history has always sided with progressives. It is progressives who battle injustices with in the institutions of society.

We are not socialist or communist. We do not wish to control the economy merely regulate it. Just as the government did the last time capitalism ran amok.

There will always be those who resist change, because they are too dependent on the system to tell them how to feel. We need to stop concerning ourselves with alienating the opposition. They will hate us and call us names regardless of what we do.

We should concentrate our efforts on making the case for progressives. Conservative governance has been rather devastating for the nation. Progressive governance makes history. We need to make it a habit of discussing the relationship between conservatives and progressives from a historical perspective if we want to convince people to join us. It is especially crucial at the college level, where young adults are beginning to receive their first real glimpse at reality. I am not sure of the relative age of this board, but the public education system has really suffered since the rise of anti-intellectualism. If it were not for the education I received at home, I might have come out with a much narrower world view.

We should promote and wear the title progressive like a badge of honor, and we should brag more about the accomplishments of progressives. We should remind our fellow citizens that progressives shape history by embracing the future.

We are still so very young as a country and as a species. We advance by improving our intellect. Philosophy and science drive social evolution. A true liberal education provides a deeper understanding of the world in which we live. Something desperately missing from our society.

We need to bring philosophy back, but make it accessible to the masses. Histories progressives have all been great thinkers who challenge the status quo. We need to counter the conservative picture of progressives as something sinister or vile.


Sorry for the lack of paragraph breaks. The spaces disappeared when I entered it.


THIS should be the opening paragraph of the book! (Minus the last sentence.) And then the NEXT paragraph should answer the first one directly – “This handbook takes us off the defensive, and puts progressives on the offensive, with a clear, emotionally sticky vision, tactics, and slogans that will allow us to set the media agenda and return the political discourse where it belongs, to the people.”

(Or something like that. Obviously, the words are a big challenge.)

Then the NEXT section should be the core set of value statements. (I’ll see what I find in here along those lines, but I have a draft set myself, that need a lot of work, but that I developed using the conservative positioning statements as a model.)

And in the next version of the handbook, you remove the first paragraph, where we whine about how we’re losing, and move everything up one place :-)


I *don’t* agree. The money works because the agenda has been set elsewhere. (Yes, I think there is too much money in politics, but I don’t think it’s the root of the problem.)

I think Kevin has a gut sense of the issue here – what money has done in politics, and not through contributions to congress critters but through the right wing machine, is set the agenda so that all the Tea Baggers know to talk about is taxes and smaller government, because that’s “the solution” – EVEN when it’s against their *rational* self-interest. Money doesn’t do that – marketing does that. And that makes it a lot easier for money to have a negative impact in the political process, for a variety of reasons.

Imagine a world where raising taxes to pay for valuable services from the government was considered a good thing. That world is almost unimaginable, but that’s a marketing outcome. But in *that* world, money donated to Congress would have a much different effect.

I’m not saying that the progressive’s #1 job is to make taxes seem like a good idea (but that’s not a bad goal, since many of the most popular aspects of our country are paid for – efficiently – by taxes, and would be better if there was more money for them). But you want a world where that’s a legitimate option, not an automatic non-starter.


I’m surprised there are no comments. This is, for me, the key point, and everything else hangs off successfully articulating this.


George Lakoff laid out the Big Three (that I would add a fourth) in describing the NP moral positions:
#1 Responsibility/Accountability of power, that decisions that affect others be a fair thing to others & it not unfairly benefit the “decider”

#2 The Empowerment of each person to achieve the greatest levels of productive engagement from holding “deciders” accountable, to the expansion of knowledge & skills (& employing those skills) to the greatest levels possible.

#3 The Empathy to even understand the first two points, & especially that each “decider” be able to “walk in the shoes” of each person affected and act as they would see to be fair.

And I would add:
#4 A respect for a common observable reality as bedrock to all that is above. That propaganda and illogical speech be called out and not tolerated or certainly not indulged.


“Conversely, the psychology of liberals…” I’m no “liberal” (though I once was, before things got down and dirty)I’m a PROGRESSIVE. No more lily


What? you hit “Submit” by mistake and no erasure or editing possible? This is a clunky system man.


I was saying…no more lily livered liberalism for me. They’ve done a number on a perfectly nice word so may it rest in peace. But I’d rather steer clear of t association with the neo-liberal, exploitative, world economic agenda. And the word picks up a whiff of “limousine liberal”, “late’ liberal”. Brothers & Sisters, keep the tag if you are so attached to it, but it’s not for me.


“progressive ideology” I greatly dislike the term “ideology” in reference to anything I would affiliate with. Your “isms” are ideologies, capitalism, socialism. Ideology believes it has final answers and closes off creative thinking and discussion.


I’d prefer “progressive vision” or “progressive world view”.

1 1

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 media landscape and set the bounds of our political discourse. And we tend to feel powerless to stop them because we lack the capacity to build an effective response.

2 6

Add to this the fact that corporate money has a stranglehold on both political parties. While conservatives align with powerful political institutions through the Republican Party, we find ourselves in the inconvenient position of having to struggle against corporate Democrats who benefit from the elite power structures standing in the way of progress. So we must contend with conservative media and a larger political system that is structurally aligned with preserving a conservative status quo.

3 1

This has to change.

4 0

We need a new approach to political strategy that gets us out of this rut. Not only do we need better strategies (more on this in a moment), we also need better methods and models for cultivating and implementing them. It just isn’t enough to take the tools of yesterday and apply them to the challenges of tomorrow. We have to be innovative. We have to constantly learn and grow, evolving to meet the changing needs of our movement.

5 0

And America needs the progressive movement to be strong!

6 2

Consider this. Research on political psychology has shown that people who align with conservatism tend to have high anxiety about change, and embrace authoritarian structures as a way to preserve external stability and control. In today’s turbulent times, this means conservatives are having a hard time coping. They hunker down and cling to ideas that applied to a different era, or lash out against changes that they aren’t equipped to handle.

7 6

Conversely, the psychology of liberals aligns more with tolerance of ambiguity and a greater ability to consider alternative perspectives. This is why we are better equipped to see the suffering of marginalized groups and push the envelope on cultural issues, even when we don’t know what society will look like after we make a change. Add that were also better at envisioning what possible futures will look like if we do attempt change, and it’s easy to understand why America has always turned to progressives whenever a large-scale reorganization of society has become necessary.

8 2

So it makes sense that we call ourselves progressives. We have a natural predilection toward progress, and the necessary skills and attitudes that make us change agents and social entrepreneurs. It is time to take pride in what we do to advance civilization—and to put our unique talents to work to re-make and re-define the structures that tie our country to an outdated status quo.

9 0

The Big Picture

10 1

The progressive movement needs a brand identity—a Big Picture that sets out the values, principles and ideas that guide our thinking, communication, and policies.

11 0

We need to spell out what things like climate action have to do with gay rights and why ending the genocide in Darfur sits beside corporate governance as a concern we all share.

12 4

We wont be truly effective until we can describe the Big Picture that all our various causes fit into—the ethical basis that drives every decision we make and every action we choose. The pieces hang together in the “mushy” (that is: intangible, non-quantifiable, and often highly emotional) space of shared values and social norms, the moral worldview that constitutes our progressive ideology. Without that strong collective vision, we cant galvanize our movement into a coherent community capable of collective action—let alone offer the rest of the country an inspiring vision of the future wed like to lead them to.

13 0

This handbook builds on the foundational insight that social movements hang together around three things:

14 0
  1. A shared identity comprising the core values, worldview, and character of the movement;
  2. A vividly detailed, richly compelling vision of the better world that the movement seeks to create; and
  3. An oppositional threat that the movement pushes against in order to right a fundamental wrong in society.
15 2

Of course, a movement also needs the resources—people, ideas, materials, money, and connections etc.—to get this out. This is the necessary matrix that ties any movement together; the common soil out of which a thousand flowers can bloom, eventually evolving into a complex, self-reinforcing, and highly adaptive ecosystem.

16 0

The progressive movement in America today has all of these necessary elements. We just havent formally articulated them and put them forward at the center of our agenda. This handbook, with its unique approach to collaborative engagement, will begin the process of remedying this situation.