Action Plan For Progressives Part B

I had published an opening piece called Action Plan Progressives with the intention of sharing my thoughts and my learnings, from reading a variety of different sources, on what progressives had gotten wrong and what needed to be done to ensure that the next election would yield different results. The title and the piece was written out of an in-the-moment feisty defiance, a desire to help undo what I felt was a terrible wrong and to be a more active participant in the democratic process. I had intended to write follow-on short digestible pieces with the first focused on our sources of information about politics and the world.

As I watch the chaotic first weeks of the Trump presidency I find myself distracted, there is a temptation to feel vindicated, to want to lash out at those couldn’t see past their disdain for contemporary American politics and a blinding hatred for a candidate named Clinton. And yet here we are into the first three weeks of what appears to be a completely unprepared, scandal ridden, imploding presidency and the Trump’s approval rating among Republicans remains fairly intact. Yes his overall approval rating is at a historic low but that is exactly the type of red herring and blind spot that impaired our ability to see his rise to the White House in the first place. Call me cautious but I don’t enjoy getting a third-degree burn twice.

A popular post mortem narrative is that Progressives need to learn to stop being pussies and learn to fight. That we are soft, facing an opposition that is not and that is very willing to punch low to win. When one is in a bar fight, they say, one doesn’t try to resolve it by pleading to conversation and reason. There has been a chorus of Progressives, urging on a new more aggressive bare knuckled fight.

I think this is all well-intentioned but I also think that it misses a bigger and much more important point. Yes activation of enough people can swing the next election but it will do nothing to address the animus and perceived chasm that exists between Right and Left in our country today. Progressives may very well win the next election only to find ourselves in the same political paralysis while facing half the country that is hostile to our intentions.

The climate in our country is extremely dangerous and while we must bring the fight, we must bring it with a completely different intent. Our intent must be to bring a new level of understanding and empathy to our political discourse with the goal of creating a shared purpose and vision for our country that can be embraced by more than just our political tribe. If our only goal is to win the Electoral College, we will have lost the long fight and our descent into a deeply unstable and fractious future will continue. We must learn from history and from fallen empires, our situation is completely unsustainable and this is an existential crisis.

As I reflect on it now, the title of my blog was poorly conceived for at first glance it is appears to be a partisan clarion call and will undoubtedly find immediate disinterest from anyone self-ascribed as being conservative. They will believe it to be another liberal hit piece on their values and world view.

My intent is to be the direct opposite of partisan — I’d like to try to appeal to reason and what I believe the core drivers of increasing disenfranchisement, angst and polarity in our country. I want to appeal to our overwhelmingly common and shared needs, hopes, values and aspirations. When you dissect it, the vast majority of Americans are not that far part — we’ve just created an illusion of a chasm that is insurmountable.

More on this in my next post where I will return to where I promised to go first, our sources of information about the world we live in. Going forward, my blog on this matter will be called Action Plan For Concerned Americans.