The Best Defense is a Good Offense 50


For the last 40 years, America has lived George Orwell’s worst nightmare.  It was a bit more subtle than Orwell imagined, but our domination by powerful interests has been no less complete than the dystopian world the author described in 1984.  We have been fed nationalist propaganda for decades, dumbed down by our schools and our food and our government.  The demands of Wall Street long ago supplanted the needs of Main Street to the point that even “liberal” presidents play their tune at every conceivable turn.

We have become American Consumers of Shit and Shinola, no longer citizens of the Republic armed with information, passion and esprit de corps.

Last year represented the first year in my lifetime that a significant number of the electorate shook off their stupor and voted accordingly, despite the long national awakening since Junior was promoted by the Supreme Court because of a technicality and a huge set of brass balls.  It took a full-on Constitutionally-sanctioned coup to wake us up and even now the Powers That Be shove us back into the Us vs Them framework.  Unity is bad for maintaining control, so they keep us divided into neat little demographic factions locked in an eternal ideological struggle.

Since the strategy of those in charge of this mess really hasn’t changed, I say it is time for We The People to go on the offense in a way we never have before.

This is the first legitimate shot America has at shaping a true progressive presidency since Jimmy Carter was in the White House, but Barack Obama will only be as “liberal” as the country allows him to be, so the proffered solutions can’t be more of the same failed programs democrats always trot out.  Democrats need to explain to the country why a progressive shift in thinking is a good thing and then offer smart legislation that actually moves us in that new direction.  There are hearts and minds still waiting to be won if progressives would start speaking the truth with the same conviction as those who offer nothing but lies.

What do I mean by progressive?  First off, it isn’t driven by a political party.  It is a state-of-mind that eschews the status quo if it is keeping us from moving forward as one nation, one people.  Being a progressive is just as conservative as it is liberal.

Which brings me back to offense.  Changing a nation is a huge effort that takes multiple generations.  Progressives need to start, right now, speaking the language of winners and offering innovative solutions outside the traditional left-right political paradigm.  The language of winners is positive and assertive and a bit arrogant.  Not arrogant in the sense that everyone else is wrong, but arrogant in that how can anything else be considered right based on the available evidence.  Think Teddy Roosevelt or LBJ rather than members of the modern political parties.  Their sort of conviction led to committed converts rather than political insurgencies.

It’s why Barack won the presidency.  He was convinced America could be better and trusted the voter to see through the haze.  He was right.

I am betting on the same thing.  I am convinced We The People are in a place to hear hard-truths if presented logically and with conviction.  I also think we are ready to contemplate big, bold initiatives that will take this country in a progressive direction, though not necessarily liberal or conservative as currently defined.  I don’t think it will be easy or that we will solve 40 years of pain and misery and devolution with one election or even ten.  The journey must begin somewhere, though, so why not right here and now?  If the journey is to begin, we need as many Americans moving in the same direction as possible, liberal and conservative.

After all the shit we’ve been fed and continue to be fed, it will take shocking language and absolute certainty to break through the programming.

To do that, some people are sure to be offended on both the left and right.  Some people need to be offended.  Hell, I’m offended on a daily basis when and if I bother to watch five minutes of local or national news.  Given the nature of the the forces arrayed against us, isn’t it time We The People had an offense that brings us together rather than driving us farther apart?  Isn’t it time we used the same uncompromising language and moral certitude that got us here as a way to get us out?  Americans respect that sort of bold communications style.  They can get their arms around it.  Nuanced discussions give the appearance of uncertainty, which is weak.

Being weak is un-American.

That’s the feeling I get from speaking with friends who are conservative or former conservatives.  They need to see a capable, type-A progressive.  They need to experience an Alpha Male progressive (even if you’re female) who knows his shit, can reach equitable compromise and lives up to his stated ideals.  That’s how to win back respect (and votes) from people who have barely tolerated being in the same country as “liberals” for the last forty years.  To them, democrats are still a bunch of hippies hanging out in the park with hand-painted signs.  The RNC convinced them they were right years ago and then didn’t deliver on anything they promised.  The DLC did the same thing in the 1990s and failed the left as well.  It’s all bad.

It’s time to define what the two major parties must become by convincing the silent majorities in both to see the logic of progressive solutions to long-standing problems and encouraging them to enforce those ideals by voting in primary elections.

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50 thoughts on “The Best Defense is a Good Offense

  • Aunt Sam

    YES!

    While you may get flack about the ‘strong alpha male’ statement I understand the context and the audience you were referencing.

    I am so glad we are having posts on We, The People, and need for us to be proactive and responsible for our own future (as well as past).

    Thanks for this Jason, appreciate.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      No, thank you for the kind words! It always my pleasure to have a forum to get shit off my chest.

      It figures an Alaskan woman understands the essential dilemma of changing the conservative mind, however open or closed it may be at the time.

      It’s been well over a century since Americans gathered at the tavern or the town square to exchange these sorts of ideas. That trend will only continue to grow.

      The web wild card remains the best one We The People have been dealt in thousands of years.

  • quinn esq

    Jason. Could you sketch out what 2 or 3 of those initiatives might look and sound like? Either in a comment, or in an addition to the blog itself?

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I could sketch out dozens, but this blog is less about policy and more about presentation.

      If I had to pick two or three, I would choose deflating the defense industry in favor new investments in education, non-profits and for-profit, for-good entrepreneurial ventures.

      I would end the drug war and disassemble our growing police state.

      Finally, I would move toward a smaller federal government with stronger state governments as part of the deflating of the defense budget noted above.

      I wouldn’t keep spending more and more money (our money) to maintain an unsustainable status quo that benefits so few Americans.

      • quinn esq

        Jason. When you talk the specifics of policy, I am – quite often – in agreement with you. I also agree with you on some of the presentational stuff. I believe there is real value in politicians who put down a marker, a spear in the ground, on new turf, and who will then face the initial fire from established forces, while the hidden majority moves toward it. So, two areas of agreement. Where it comes apart is when you begin speaking to party politics, and I think your examples are good cases in point. See, while there may actually be larger support for changing drug laws etc., it seems to me that the hype/fear of opponents is targeted precisely at the center of the spectrum, the “moderates” and soft republicans. Our extra allies are in fact often people outside existing voters altogether. In short, a political strategy aiming at the “moderate middle” is gonna give us watered down or status quo policies, rather than the kinds of change we need. We need to be aiming at those out on the fringes of the existing political system, those who don’t feel a part of any of this old party nonsense, if we’re gonna find that extra 10%-20% needed for these kinds of changes. Same with reducing defense budgets. Soft or Moderate Republicans are precisely the ones who go batshit on these issues. Those who really feel as Ike did at the end seem to me to have exited from the political system, or to lie at the fringes.

        In sum, I can agree on some policies, and on some presentation, but the party political placement and packaging your often make – though not so much here – strikes me as missing out on the people we actually want/need.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          I totally agree that the people we need to sell are the ones who don’t typically vote in primary elections, thus are mostly disconnected to anything but the broadest understanding of the issues.

          I think where I am getting at when it comes to political parties and presentation is that those would-be voters are often unaffiliated and are still waiting for the clarion call to action regarding issues they have been schooled to care about.

          For decades, most Americans have been convinced that politics is an optional duty when it is central to a functioning republic grown as large and diverse as ours.

  • JadeZ

    The problem is Obama is not the progressive some people believed him to be.

    There is no one to support who would even attempt such an agenda and certainly I can’t imagine anyone ‘slipping” past the owners of the country to actually get elected.

    Only a third party will do now.

    Progressives, environmentalists, greens, independents etc. All must come together to have any hope of creating the change this country needs.

    Dennis Kucinich is the only elected democrat I could even consider supporting.
    Maybe not the ideal, but he certainly would be a good place to start.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      You misunderstand my definition of progressive as it is mor a state of mind than a bunch of policy positions.

      Obama would have fit the bill quite nicely given how he came to the presidency and had the democratic party decided to innovate instead of dictate on the legislative front.

      Even Kucinich isn’t truly progressive because he would implement “progress” in a way that most Americans would not support and thus would be unsustainable over the long-term.

      • Libertine

        “Even Kucinich isn’t truly progressive because he would implement “progress” in a way that most Americans would not support and thus would be unsustainable over the long-term.”

        I keep on hearing stuff like this jason and remain fully unconvinced of its veracity. Until we are given a shot we don’t know that would be the outcome. In fact I think the American people left-center-right were hoping for at least a small dose of Kucinich style progress. There is absolutely no reason that the oligarchy needs to be coddled and their obscene wealth protected after they got close to $1.5T of taxpayer dollars. More needs to be done for the rest of us and nothing is happening on that front. And average Americans of the left, right and center variety are none to happy. When are we going to start implementing progressive taxes instead of taxing the middle and lower classes more so the wealthy can get even more breaks?

        • Jason Everett Miller

          Kucinich had his shot. He was all over the television for months during the primaries, both in 2004 and 2008. He had plenty of air time and America didn’t buy it.

          That’s not to say that America isn’t looking for many of the same ends that Dennis would see happen, they are just looking for means that make sense to them and don’t always include more government as the solution.

          We need to create a sustainable society that allows for growth at the individual level given sufficient effort while at the same time constraining private interests when they conflict with the public good.

          • Libertine

            I think you are wrong on this on a number of levels jason. First unless you are a centrist you are not gonna have the money to advertise and get your message out. And since most of the money come for corporate donors, money that did not come Kucinich’s (or Dodd’s or Gravel’s) way since their positions weren’t pro-corporate ones, they could not get their message out like Obama and Clinton. Secondly the corporate media refuses to report seriously on the far left. They marginalize and ridicule the far left, sometimes out and out dismissing them. All I remember hearing about Kucinich in the MSM was how he said he once had an encounter with an UFO. The deck is stacked in favor of the status quo, don’t rock the boat, candidates. And therefore they will be the ones elected and there will be very little opportunity for leaders who champion real progressive change.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            I guess we watched a different 20 debates that allowed Kucinich to answer questions like the other candidates. I saw plenty of Dennis on the tube throughout the year and even supported him until he dropped out before our primaries.

            I think the far left deserves a certain amount of ridicule given their truculant tone-deafness over the last forty years or so with regards to the majority of Americans. The last truly progressive democrat to get wide-spread support was a hard-nosed legislative bruiser and a political pragmatist of the highest order.

            Obama was elected despite the long odds against his emerging from Iowa anything but a distant third. That he connected with republicans, democrats and independents alike, many opening their wallets for the first time, tells me he is far more progressive than Kucinich in the classic sense of the term.

          • Libertine

            Again I disagree jason. You make the assumption that everybody is like you and me…political junkies. Sitting there watching all the debates from beginning to end. Many people rely on the MSM to report on what happened at these debates. People have lives and often times cannot devote the amount of time required to take in all of the debates. So for those people they have to get their facts through the filter of the MSM. Not only did I watch the debates I also watched how the debates were covered after the fact. Invariably clips of Obama, Clinton and Biden answering questions made the news and the other candidates were ignored. I saw an anti-liberal bias in the coverage. The media latched onto their favorite candidates and those were the ones getting their faces and message all over the news.

            And the only ridicule candidates from the left deserve, and rightly so imo, is not being able to articulate their message in the populist way it should be presented.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            I had lots of conversations with non-political junkies who thought my choice of Kucinich was nuts after having seen the debates.

            I would suggest you take another look at the historical record. The ratings for last year’s political theater was much higher than in previous presidential elections.

            I watched the coverage of the debates as well as the debates themselves. By and large, I found the reporting to be no more spurious than anything else the media does.

            I am loath to blame the average American voter for the “left’s” inability to articulate a coherent message that makes logical and rational sense.

            There are very specific reasons I don’t consider myself a liberal, despite any progressive leanings I may have in the macro.

          • acamus

            But going back to Orwell and 1984: one of the points, the main point in my opinion, that Orwell was trying to drive home in the novel was that if you diminish the language, you diminish the ability of the population to formulate ideas and an understanding of the world. In the novel, the government was actually setting policy about language, diminishing it, and thereby able to more easily control the population.

            Whereas in reality it has been as you said more subtle, a sort of self-imposed language diminishment.

            One facet of this is that both the problems and solutions we face are highly complex and inter-related, because they are resulting from a multitude of high-complex system across scale. Articulating real problems and viable and sustainable solutions may, to put it simply, go right over their head. The candidate who has the real solutions loses to the one that resonates with the public because they have kept to “lower taxes” mantra or something like that.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Great points. We are our own worst enemy because the last four decades have programmed us to respond in predictable ways to unimportant policy distinctions.

            I think the first political party who can design complex, sustainable solutions and then package them in a way that most Americans can understand will be entrusted with our on-going transition into this new century.

            What I hope we are seeing right now, at least as far as the electorate is concerned, is an evolution of expectations to help determine the language needed to develop the right solutions.

  • *

    My definition of Progressive is the middle ground – half liberal and half conservative. I’m not impressed with both Party’s being aligned as either far right or far left and the middle ground is a vacant, no-man’s land full of landmines. Perhaps I’m naive, but working from the middle has always served the interests of both Party’s when the majority of both were leaning towards the center. Also, working from the middle had both sides of the isles working together to create legislation that satisfied each Party’s interest as well as giving ground to the opposition – a give and take system that ensured cooperation between both Party’s to get legislation passed with little ado. The middle ground was the framework for trust between Party’s. Unfortunately, the framework was eroded back in 1993 with the Contract Against America platform by the republicans running for Congress and once they got to office they tore it down and it’s been a running battle ever since – 17 years now. I think the best defense we can have is for a good offensive political strategy were both center leaning Democrats and Republicans caucus as a group with shared legislative intent. If you think about it, they would be that third Party everyone alludes to. It’s an option to consider. Just think of the Blue Dog Democrats and those republicans that are too liberal for the tea-baggers, birthers and what-nots collaborating together as a distinct political entity denying both Democrats and Republicans exclusive control within Congress. It would be a whole new ballgame and perhaps things would start moving again in the direction the people want, not government or business interest.

    • *

      One last point I fail to elaborate on is the Progressive caucus. People could run for office as either a Democrat of Republican on a platform stating their center leaning political outlook giving the voter a clear indication if elected they would be joining the Progressive caucus supporting issues in the middle that comprised of both Democrat and Republican positions. At least the voters would know in advance they were voting for someone who wouldn’t following the Party’s lead, but following political views from a national sense – what good for the country and the public instead of Party and business interest.

      • Jason Everett Miller

        Great thoughts on both comments. The big problem I see is the political middle has moved toward a place where each party thinks they are the middle, while neither are truly hits the progressive mark. It was the same atmostphere in 1912 when Teddy Roosevelt was forced to go Bull Moose to get a progressive platform.

        I’ll offer one for instance with regards to health care. I called the death of the public option months ago and not just because it was a bad idea. I knew it would face stiff resistence because of an innate conservativism in America and the fact that we mostly like evolutionary changes in small doses.

        The reason Reagan was able to convince much of the country that government is the problem was due to the element of truth in that statement. The federal government is a huge part of our problem. That Reagan helped make it way worse than he found it is a bit of ironic nuance that many Americans will never get.

        The inverse (government will solve your problems) simply doesn’t hold as much weight for the democratic party, so they will really need to modify their messaging to be successful in promoting their chosen solutions. If I were advising the democratic party I would tell them to let Obama follow his campaign plan to the letter and get the fuck out of his way.

        I think he could have been the first of the kind of politician you describe, because I could see voting for the man as either a republican or as a democrat. I thought Tim Kaine of Virginia was the same (as is republican Bob McDonnell who was just elected governor) and now he is taking over the DNC.

        Maybe Kaine can transition the democrats toward the kind of paradigm you are suggesting.

        • *

          My intent is for both those left leaning conservatives and right leaning liberals to forge ahead and create their own unique caucus independent of the major Partys. They’re either in the Democrat of Republican column as the paperwork goes, but they attend a completely different caucus. It would make both Party’s stand up and take notice because neither has enough to push thru or stop any piece of legislation without their approval. That would make them a de facto third Party within a two Party system.

          In fact, the Blue Dog Democrats are acting the part right now. On paper, they’re Democrats, but have views more like republicans and can’t be counted on towing the Party line unless there are arrangements made for their cooperation. They’re acting like a de facto third Party whose votes are necessary for the Democrats to move forward with their legislation and are willing to go along so long as they’re desires are met.

          • *

            It’s happening now, but no one has made the effort to boldly create a third caucus solely based on giving those politicians room to gravitate towards the middle ground.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Agreed. Too bad Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins didn’t actually join Baucus et. al. in bringing a true bipartisan caucus to move a more moderate agenda reform forward that didn’t piss off the base of either party overly much but laid the groundwork for greater deeds to come.

  • stillidealistic

    You are rockin’ it across the board the last few days, Jason…another good post.

    It is my opinion the dems themselves have done the most damage to Obama…He came in on a mandate for change, and almost right out of the chute I got the distinct impression the dems in Congress were sitting back sayin’ “hold on there big fella, here’s the way we do things in Washington…”

    I have been horrified by the way the dems have squandered their majority by continuing the business as usual mantra, blatantly continued to allow lobbyists to control them, protected the trial lawyers, and basically continued to do the very things we voted against.

    We had the perfect opportunity to step up to the plate, attempt to wipe the slate clean, and vow to the country that things really were going to be different. The dem leadership should have been pushing back every time the repubs started to obstruct, and there should have been an active campaign to reduce expenditures (as in the foreign boondoggles.) Given a little time, I could come up with many more ideas.

    I don’t know if it is too late or not, but them dems should be doing everything possible to clean up Washington in a big, splashy way.

    • kgb999

      I haven’t given up hope on HCR yet. They can still pull it off.

      If they were to pull off passing a PO after all the “it’s impossible” talk, democrats would look like superheros. Not because everyone loves the policy, but because they WON. There is so much more to the Alpha thing Jason mentions than anyone will give credit. People want to feel like they are in the hands of someone who can fight for them and win. That’s why Bush rarely took a PR hit for his tactics no matter how brutal the method he used to get his way. It’s also why the GOP screams bloody murder about “bipartisanship” every time it looks like the democrats are showing some cajones; they know if the democrats make them look as weak as they really are they are sunk.

      The conspiracy theorist in me (who believes both parties are controlled by the same powers) thinks this is why the democrats won’t actually move in for the kill. Having the sports-fan dynamic in our politics is crucial to keeping us from coming together on issues of mutual self-interest.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks for the kind words! I agree that Obama’s biggest handicap has been the democratic party’s lack of imagination and vision when it comes to governing.

      The “obstruction” would have been completely unsuccessful if the plans the GOP were hindering offered innovation strategies to move us forward rather than the same old, same old “liberal” policy prescriptions. There was a small window of opportunity to embrace the president’s winning message and use it to transform our politics into something useful in managing our government.

      As it is, we somehow find ourselves back in essentially the same lame position as we were before the election. New players are on stage, but the script is mostly unchanged.

  • Fred Moolten

    I believe progress has often been stifled by the 60 vote requirement to pass legislation in the Senate. However, that rule is not inviolable. It could be changed formally, but even without that step, there is probably latitude to interpret the Byrd rule in ways to circumvent a filibuster, and there are also potential means for a vice president to declare certain legislation immune to filibuster with perhaps at least a chance of success. What will be required is for someone, at some point, to undertake the challenge. Once the spell is broken, the voice of progress will be heard much more easily.

    (I should add that I did not, and do not, advocate using healthcare reform as the platform for the challenge – I believe that would have been a mistake – but I would welcome the attempt if climate change legislation appears doomed to defeat).

    • Saladin

      I believe progress has often been stifled by the 60 vote requirement to pass legislation in the Senate. However, that rule is not inviolable. It could be changed formally, but even without that step, there is probably latitude to interpret the Byrd rule in ways to circumvent a filibuster, and there are also potential means for a vice president to declare certain legislation immune to filibuster with perhaps at least a chance of success. What will be required is for someone, at some point, to undertake the challenge. Once the spell is broken, the voice of progress will be heard much more easily.

      Its a good day when I agree wholeheartedly with Fred (the bit about health care at the end rankled a little bit, but I understand your logic from a political gamesmanship point of view).

      • kgb999

        Ditto, except I think HCR would have been the place to make the stand. From a political gamesmanship standpoint, being willing to fight and win on HCR would have reaped far bigger rewards for democrats than something as abstract to most people as Cap and Trade.

        Democrats don’t look like winners at the moment – and this is the issue where everybody is watching.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Why not design progressive legislation that can get more than 60 votes? I can think of any number of ways democrats could have accomplished that since Obama took office but didn’t.

      I find it hard to believe that we can’t craft hybrid solutions that make the most of both our liberal and conservative natures as a country.

      The system was specifically set up to avoid drastic shifts without wide-spread concensus. I don’t think we should make it easier for bare “majorities” to change national paradigms.

  • dickday

    Last year represented the first year in my lifetime that a significant number of the electorate shook off their stupor and voted accordingly, despite the long national awakening since Junior was promoted by the Supreme Court because of a technicality and a huge set of brass balls. It took a full-on Constitutionally-sanctioned coup to wake us up and even now the Powers That Be shove us back into the Us vs Them framework. Unity is bad for maintaining control, so they keep us divided into neat little demographic factions locked in an eternal ideological struggle.

    This is a wonderful paragraph. It really is difficult to argue with almost anything in this post Jason.

    I worry, I start thinking…oh we need sixty and oh we need to speak nice to Lieberman or Snow or….

    Then I think to hell with it.

    Affirmative statements. Not defensive statements.
    What can we do. Not what we cannot do.

    You know the most admired president for FDR was TR. I mean that is why he became Secretary of the Navy under Wilson. And that is why he desperately wished to become Vice-President.

    I am not happy with political parties.

    It is just I am hearing nothing but teabagging nonsense from repubs. NOTHING.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I think both parties need to resurrect the ghosts of Roosevelts past.

      I truly thought Obama was a man in that mold, and he still may be, but his party dropped the ball in my opinion. An illusion of inclusion wasn’t going to be enough to bring our divided house together.

      The good news remains that it is never too late to make that change. At any moment, someone in a position of leadership could start governing like a leader instead of a cheerleader and articulate a vision for the disinterested masses.

      Like you, I am mostly disgusted with both parties, though I suspect for very different reasons.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Shultz is mostly the type of former republican I would see return to the GOP and pull the cross-over vote from the left.

      We need states and districts that trend red to get a little purple slipped in via the primaries or else the stalemate remains. Likewise, districts that trend blue could use more pragmatic progressives who might be willing to create an atmostphere of cooperation.

      I know we have always had a politics in this country that was more brawl than brain, but it is never too late to change.

      Until the Vandals are at the gates that is.

      • Watt Childress

        I tune in to Shultz maybe 2 or 3 times a week. Can’t see him running as a Republican, not by a long shot.

        I do think he has the kind of persona you describe, though, and he would add vital energy to this year’s elections should he enter the race in North Dakota as a Democrat.

        Can you suggest other examples of potential or declared candidates who meet your criteria?

        • Jason Everett Miller

          I only mention that because he was a lifelong republican until the Bush years. Susan Eisenhower also left in response the Bush-Cheney.

          I think it is time that those sorts of people took some responsibility for creating such a insane party and went back to fix it, becuase I think it is quite facetious to say that the damage to the GOP began in 2000 when it really started in 1968.

          It sounds like any democrat would have a hard time winning in ND right now, but perhaps a reformist republican might have a shot and former republicans and independents seem the best place to find those sorts of candidates given the general tone and tenor of the republicans currently in office.

          I live in Washington DC, so I don’t really pay too much attention to national politics since all of our politics are local. My guy here in the last election was Patrick Mara, but he got screwed by a democrat who lost the primary and ran in the general as an independent in clear violation of the spirit of DC’s at-large council seat process.

          In general, I like the Northeast republicans (Snowe, Collins, et. al.) as a model for what the GOP could become with enough housecleaning.

          • Watt Childress

            Thanks for your replies Jason. They give me a better sense of how I can strive to be productive with our exchange.

            I live in the state of Oregon, where we have a strong history of electing progressive Republicans like former Governor Tom McCall and former Senator Mark Hatfield. But my family goes back seven generations (on both sides) in northeast Tennessee. Which is to say that most of my kin voted for Eisenhower because Lincoln won the war.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            I have family in both Tennessee and Oregon, love both spots for mostly the same reasons. I should have mentioned Oregon’s history of progressive republicans as well, though I am not all that conversant with TN.

  • one_wilson

    I think a lot of the frustrations that ALL sides seem to feel with the modern system of national politics stems from the fact that we really ARE a 50/50 nation on so many critical issues (OK, maybe 45/55 or 55/45 on some things, but essentially split pretty near the middle). Whichever ‘side’ gets a temporary, somewhat illusory, slight ‘edge’ gets angered that it cannot readily translate that transient advantage into real power.

    AS Mr. Miller seems to suggest, I’m coming to believe (as they used to say in the movies) “That’s no accident.” Where are the noble but PRACTICAL things that 70, 80% of us can readily agree upon? Why do we spend so much of our political time and energy on nitpicking, angels-on-pinheads irrelevancies (irrelevant at least in PUBLIC POLICY terms – I’m not saying they may not matter in some OTHER context). Why keep breaking our teeth on things that are incapable of EVER being clearly settled, but are sure to stoke the fires of anger and resentment into the future?

    • matyra

      I know we’ve talked about this before, but one thing that most agree upon (except, pointedly, politicians and corporations) is the power that money has in our government. It always seems to me that campaign finance reform is always just a tiny adjustment that ignores the real problem: those with money influence policy more than those who don’t. When the money doesn’t want change, then it either doesn’t happen or happens far less than it should.

      I’m not quite sure how mandatory public campaign financing could be implemented and how it would work, but looking broadly it seems like separating money from policy is as important as separating religion from policy.

      • Jason Everett Miller

        I think money stays in government because We The People never stepped up to offer a check.

        Obama found a way to get around the status quo machines by way of the primary election needing to reach smaller audiences and internet fund-raising from millions of former slackers.

        I think the same could be done on a smaller scale at the local level all around the country, in both parties.

        When the fait accompli general election rolls around, our choice becomes two actual choices instead of two familiar evils.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      All great questionsm, Wilson. None of which I have a ready answer for, but I am hopeful that the fact we are even asking them is a huge step forward for a lot of Americans.

      The challenge is that with an uninformed electorate, building broad support will require deft footwork and an on-the-ground infrastructure missing from today’s parties.

      The democrats had an opportunity early on give the nature of Obama’s victory, but I think that has been mostly squandered on the very fights you point out.

      Perhaps Tim Kaine can get them back on track given his work in Virginia and Obama’s innate nature, insofar as I can guess at it from the campaign, his books and speeches.

      The actions are still a bit murky for me, but I remain patient for now.

  • Social Abortion

    Great post! Although I’ll take the Neil Postman stance on the issue and say that we are definitely more of a Brave New World utopia.

    All of the information and power is ours. The government is not all controlling. Instead, we choose to be ignorant and do not take advantage of the information we have or the power we have as a society to make a difference in this country.

    We choose to be ignorant and culturally deformed. We do it by throwing ourselves in front of reality TV and 24-hour news networks instead of actually taking the time to learn about the government.

    Most people are too lazy to go on Wikipedia and look up what socialism is.

      • Jason Everett Miller

        Since we have been genetically modified by both our diets and our pharmaceuticals, perhaps both you and Postman are on to something, though I think Orwell and Huxley essentially describing the same condition.

        The Internet remains the one wild card that no one could have accounted for when they engineered our current system a century ago. It just takes humans a little while for our perceptions to catch up to our reality.

        Maybe that is the one silver lining in our current economic crisis – more time on our hands to try and figure out why things when to shit.

        • Social Abortion

          Those with progressive ideas need to be more vocal. I’m a strong believer that the Internet can give a progressive third party a fighting chance in a future election if Reps and Dems fail to encourage the progressive mindset.

          The whole concept behind “Social Abortion” is Stop.Think.Rebuild Humanity. We all just need to get out of our comfort zones and see the problems for what they are and then actually do something about them.

          I’m with you 100%!