I have come to the conclusion that even as pragmatic and reasonable people accomplish great things over the coming years of an Obama administration, all we will see and hear in the near future (both on- and off-line) will be the fringes hollering and screaming as their influence over the conversation is mitigated and contained.
We will hear the idiots from both parties who got us to this place in history justifying why the other person elected by 9% of their party’s voters in the average primary is actually responsible for the mess and not them. Perhaps it is my own story that made it possible, but I see a counter-narrative being played out at a few decibels below the Raging Right and Raging Left.
I feel we are in the process of making an evolutionary step that would have been impossible without our revolutionary roots.
Evolution is slower than revolution and may not be as satisfying after 40 years of battle, but it typically requires less ongoing maintenance than the changes wrought by violent means since it requires each of us to change. That’s not to say revolutions and heated rhetoric aren’t needed, but at a certain point getting to the next level requires evolution by all involved.
America has changed in fits and starts prompted by various catalysts. Sometimes with a revolutionary act. Sometimes with a whisper. But our most enduring changes are the ones that evolved over time, with the end always inclusive in nature and conciliatory in presentation, aimed at fixing the genetic flaw rather than examining the sum of its parts.
Evolution is never predicated on blaming the disease, rather it shows a deeper (and more objective) understanding of the limitation in need of correcting than revolution can provide.
I have heard recently that I don’t respect the ideologues place in the evolution of our country these last 230 years. I disagree. That is an incomplete understanding of what I have written. I think most of our evolutionary growth has come via revolutionary actions prompted by committed ideologues. But many of those revolutionaries becomes some of our greatest pragmatists and some never took the path of the ideologue at all but created enormous change through acts of charity for their enemies.
They took what was started as a revolutionary act and turned it into an evolutionary path.
The 40 years of progressive politics and ideological stands led to Barack Obama who seems to understand what is needed to complete what is now an evolutionary step. We took smaller steps over that time, but the final push for a lasting progressive society that leaves no one behind has eluded us. I think Obama has figured out a way to take a truly progressive agenda and sell it in a way no democrat has ever been able to Americans outside their core constituency.
This seems to be a key evolutionary understanding that America is missing that many in the Raging Right and Raging Left have characterized as somehow being cultish if recognized by Obama’s many supporters.
But that is the media environment we have always lived in, when the fight sells more papers than true understanding and transcendence.
Even Thomas Paine’s essays were read on every corner and in every bar room long before the ideologues of the day (right and wrong) understood the transformation that was taking place and used that knowledge to accomplish what none thought possible. What could have been his more influential piece of writing was tinged with just enough ideological certitude that led to Paine’s imprisonment at the hands of French revolutionaries snd ignominious end he endured in the country his words helped to create.
I think today’s practicing progressive ideologues, whom I agree with on most issues at their basic level and intent, are missing an opportunity to join the moderates in their party and understand the moment sooner rather than later, with all the positive benefits that would entail.
Just thought I would set the record straight on where I see Obama’s place in the scheme of things, what is mostly a matter of missed opportunities by some on the left and why I support Barack’s pragmatic progressive take on how this country must evolve to be sustainable and to start working for everyone.
We’ll see how pragmatic he is by how he handles the issue MOST people are concerned with.
Legalization of marijuana and drug law modifications.
This subject topped the list of his poll. Both he and Clinton smoked pot. They wouldn’t even be able to VOTE if they were in my shoes (couple pot plants in backyard —– MANUFACTURE OF MARIJUANA)
As a convicted FELON, I can’t vote or own a gun (not interested in latter, but former is my birthright notwithstanding the bullshit laws which have been put in place to DISENFRANCHISE half of the BLACK community and imprison the rest.
I could be President too….if I hadn’t been busted. I happen to be a well spoken WHITE guy who isn’t going to sit around quietly and let these bastards piss all over us while trying to convince us it’s raining.
I doubt that he will tackle this one head on during his first or second years, but I suspect the drug war will become a much lower priority federally while leaving some states to forge ahead.
I actually suspect the states will lead this one as they have led the gay marriage issue and “nationalized” health insurance. If Obama can simply ensure that the federal government stops interfering with state initiatives, I suspect pot will be reclassified by the FDA soon enough and effectively legalized.
I actually had a blog about this during the primary, though it didn’t get much traction.
Obama has done little do make me optimistic about the drug issue. In fact Joe Biden has sponsored more damaging drug war legislation than any Democrat in Congress.
I suppose we’ll have to wait and see whom he plans to appoint (*rolls eyes) “Drug Czar”.
Agreed. Democrats and republicans alike have shown a decided love of the War on Drugs. Sad when the only presidential candidates who talked about the destruction of our nation’s drug policies are Kucinich and Paul. In Obama’s defense, though, Biden won’t be articulating drug policy, so I hold out hope for a common sense review of those policies as well.
Yeah, the thing about Delaware. It’s got 3 industries: Dupont, Astra Zeneca and corporate law. D’oh.
I must return your greeting: Namaste.
And blessings upon the evolution.
I learned what that meant this weekend and it seemed appropriate as a means of advocating understanding prior to argument.
Viva la Evolucion!
I love the battle cry!
Its not over, till its over. I am excited and interested to see how this New Administration evolves over time. On the other hand, just one decision could affect millions of people.
Fun to watch. I think for the most part cable media will be tough on the President but I have already noticed a real power being exerted by the Web, in a number of different quarters.
I am rambling. Good post.
I rambled a bit too in this blog, but agree that the media will be just as “hard” on Obama and other politicians as they have been on other administrations.
I guess my main point was a hope that we would evolve quick enough to avoid the despair of only seeing assholes on TV who rarely say anything I agree with. That despite the crap we still hear from the right, progressive changes are desired by more than Obama’s traditional base.
I am hopeful that the change we all assumed was simple common sense has finally arrived in the form of a politician who is fluent in the political language spoken by the majority of our citizens. The same power Reagan used for evil.
I love irony.
Of course all we’ll see are the fringes. The steady center is boring, which equates to bad television.
True! Here’s to Obama making the center exciting!
Very good post! The MSM (Multiple Stupid Magpies) will prattle on as usual, missing the boat in the process, but I too feel optimistic that B-Pragmatic Obama will accomplish much during his tenure.
Thanks, putty. I think we look back after eight years and think, “When did all that great stuff happen?” Barack seems to be the anti-politician in so many ways, not the east of which is letting “enemies” take credit for shit they said would never work. That is pretty evolutionary tactic that could return huge dividends for all of us.
Another very good essay, Jason. You inspire me.
Thanks, stilli. I continue to be inspired by your willingness to listen to new ideas with an open heart.
A very good piece, Jason. Thank you.
Thank you, Flower! I’ll be looking for your next blog!
Thank you for posting this, Jason. It really needed to be said, and you said it well.
I took a course called Evolution of the Earth a while back during a stint as a geology major. We studied two types of evolution: punctuated equilibrium and gradualism. From the sounds of it the raging left/right are entrenched in the punctuated equilibrium camp. The pragmatists are in the gradualism camp.
It’s funny you brought this up now because I’d been musing about it as well. The social/political world isn’t given to mutating, so as difficult as it may be for some, a little patience will be in order. (I can hear the fuming already. Sigh…)
Perhaps my biggest frustration with the left’s reaction to Obama’s tactics is that after 40 years of fruitless raging against the machine, progressives finally have a capable champion in the White House and many show no patience for pragmatism. Thanks for the comment!
Attorney General designate Eric Holder is a big drug war crusader, and won’t be leading any charge to reform sentences. It’s the biggest reason I would not be at all disappointed if he is not confirmed.
But this is one issue that is so black and white, it would say a lot about Obama if he doesn’t push for reform.
Senator Jim Webb seems to be getting ready to push for prison reform though. Hopefully Obama/Holder don’t stand in the way and try to keep many of their fellow African Americans locked up beyond all reason.
Webb has turned into a real surprise for the Dems and the country. He was a Reagan man. But I look forward to it when he appears on cable.
This prison reform effort is a shocker. I have been sickened by the shear number of people we imprison in this country. It takes a lot of guts for a guy from Virginia, to start preaching in this delicate area.
Holder is no different from others in government service – you look to the top for mission parameters. Bill Clinton never passed up an opportunity to fall in line with neoconservative thinking on all kinds of things during his eight years in office.
As boring as it may be to the MSM, it is in the middle where the changes happen. But it is from the fringes that the middle is reminded we stil hav work to do.
Agreed. The fringes certainly helps to moderate the messaging for both sides.
You miss the larger picture:
Without the fringes, the center moves to the edges. The so-called “moderates” only look so because of the fringes.
And, sadly, many of our most pressing problems will not stand under an evolutionary approach:
a) cheap energy is running out fast
b) natural resources (water, etc.) are becoming a key issue.
c) global climate change proceeds apace
The hubris here is that humans think we “control” the environment. We do not.
Overpopulation is the common thread to many of these issues — and few here understand exponential growth. As a result, even the progressives here succumb to their “selfish gene” and rationalize why they (or their children) should have any kids at all.
The longer we wait to deal with the issues (e.g. your “evolutionary solutions”), the more radical the change will have to be. It’s as simple as that. Obama’s challenge is to convince the US public that time is growing nigh to deal with issues like the certain decline in our standard of living. But again, people here would rather talk about “belief” that “someone will fix that problem” — rather than try to steer the national debate into a serious discussion on the topic.
Standard CT response to the problem – stop making babies. Not the most realistic solution, but very predictable in both its certainty and finality as well as its utter inability to actually be instituted in any meaningful fashion.
I prefer to work on those we might fix – massively slowing down out profligate use of petroleum products via electric car technology. That is something that can have an immediate impact as we both centralize carbon-polluting energy sources as well as decentralize personal production of clean energy via solar and wind.
A renewed commitment to the Millennium Project’s goals will indeed to more to reduce population growth than any draconian measures taken by individual states, most of which would be abhorrent to free people everywhere. Increased prosperity decreases population growth. That is a fact that somehow escapes all of your theorizing on lowering population rates.
The best we can do right now is chart a course that takes us all in a new direction over the next few decades and be prepared to adjust as needed. Increased melting of the Arctic or a stalling of the Gulf Stream ahead of schedule would pretty much negate anything we do during Obama’s term, but hardly exonerates our responsibility to begin trying to avoid some of the worst-case scenarios being presented.
We must be both tactical and strategic in response to our various and sundry challenges.
Jason: When 5% of the population uses 25% of the world’s resources to maintain it’s standard of living, your “solution” shows itself to be devoid of a mathematical basis.
For starters, you have to reduce by a factor of *five* your energy consumption to get us in line with a workable solution of increasing everyone’s prosperity. That’s radical, not gradual.
Your numbers don’t add up — and your unwillingness to theorize in a concrete set of numbers is exactly why eventually the radical solution will be imposed on you. By events, nature, or the government.
Thinking we will cut back drastically because the numbers don’t add up is as naive as you accuse me of being. None of the solutions will be as fast or as permanent as we need them to be, yet I am sure this tired old human race will muddle through somehow.
Simple fact of the matter is that even as we reduce our demand, the rest of the world’s demand is increasing. We are going to need to evolve at a fundamental level or none of the “revolutionary” solutions you propose will ever work.
Who are the idiots in the Democratic party? Tell me what they believe and why they’re idiots! This is a well meant challenge, Jason. You know I like your writing but I frequently see you talking about idiots on both sides and I’d love for you to articulate the idiotic views of the left. My guess is that as you type them, you’ll realize you agree with them…
And Uhhhh . . .
. . . what about these assholes on TV?
As an evolutionary centrist, it must be pretty tough having to endure all the freedoms that liberty brings forth from the fringes of our intricately woven fabric that somehow holds are country together.
Way to take a single short phrase and use it to launch into a non sequiter. You never fail to show up and completely miss the point.
Whaaaa . . .
How weird — I don’t recall addressing ol’ Mister Bluster.
Oh well … Back to enjoying my freedom that is accorded to all, including vous et moi, through the liberty provided in our country.
Hmmmm . . .
Guess I am using the freedom you opined about me wanting to limit though I never actually advocated such a thing.
Puzzled . .
I’m still wondering who are all those “…assholes on TV…”
If you are wondering that, then you must not watch much TV. I would say the asshole outnumber the non-assholes by huge percentages. David Gregory is one, but there are dozens I could name if I bothered to watch TV for ten minutes and wrote down names. Jon Stewart makes a very nice living by satirizing these tools.
I do not know who is funnier. You or OGD. I get two or three coming after me. Then I go nuts.
But OGD is funnier than MCB.
Well, if it helps you can call me JEM and keep it an all acronym thing.
It’s not their views it’s their tactics. All or nothing leads to nothing as we have found over and over in this country the last 40 years. I have said many times that I fully agree with the policies as found on the left, I simply don’t think their methods have been at all effective.
Just as I suspected! You’re probably more left wing than most left wingers when it comes right down to it.
As for the tactics — that’s something you debate about very well. Though I’m sure you understand how difficult it is to advocate for an incremental approach when some of these issues are true issues of rights and liberties.
Happy New Year, Jason!
Totally agree. It wasn’t until I understood what Navy SEALs mean by “Slow is Fast” did I start to moderate my own tone and to understand a different tactical approach to ambitious strategic goals.
I am way more left than more lefties on this site. Hell, I supported Kucinich to begin with, thinking that is exactly what the country would respond to – the unvarnished truth. They didn’t, though, they responded to the calm, cool and collected Obama. I read his books and found he was as far “left” as Kucinich, he was simply approaching both the problems and the solutions differently.
I can always go back to titling windmills later if Obama’s methods fail.
PS: Happy New year to you as well! Keep keeping them honest! (Myself included!)
“I think Obama has figured out a way to take a truly progressive agenda and sell it in a way no democrat has ever been able to Americans outside their core constituency.”
Since when did Obama ever sell a “truly progressive agenda” to the American people? You’re attributing things to the man that are only imagined. Obama is actually just another center-rightist in the mold of Bill Clinton. What in his platform can honestly be defined as “truly progressive”?
I also think your premise that in order to win hearts and minds liberals will have to move to the center is backwards and unsupported by reality.
The conservatives have never done anything of the sort. Over the past 30 years the right has moved further and further to the extreme and guess what, THEY’RE WINNING. Well, they are unless one actually thinks that the recent election was a repudiation of all things conservative and not just a referendum on Bush Co.
But the point is that conservatives have never moderated their positions in the slightest – they actually moved further to the right – and won every major battle of the last 30 years.
His entire platform was progressive. Was it couched in the same language and rhetorical style as Dennis Kucinich’s platform? No, but that hardly makes him a fake progressive or whatever else you are implying.
His resume, both his books and his history as a legislator all ensure, for me, that he is the most authentically progressive democrat to hit Washington since Jimmy Carter.
The question is not about what the idiotic views of the parties might be. Most people here seem to be on board with the progressive agenda — it has great merit. The question is how will it come to fruition. When I ask people what actions they propose to take to effect the changes the country so desperately needs, there’s invariably silence. I, too, have been silent — leaving it to others to figure out.
I came to realize, after watching a segment on NBC news last night about a 12 year old who helped his community become more energy efficient — one business, one household at a time — that the action has to be at the grassroots level, and it has to be coordinated.
Is there a plan for grassroots action? It will take a great deal of effort to overcome the pervasive resistance to change. And I’ve come to realize many people still look to Washington for that change. That’s not where it’s going to happen. There has to be a shift in priorities at the local level to overcome that inertia.
We did elect a community organizer to be president, so I suspect a grassroots element is part and parcel of his underlying strategic focus, just as it was during the primary.
I hope to look back on eight years of an Obama presidency and try to remember when we passed national heath care, a living wage and instituted strict environmental, labor and financial controls to reign in the cancer that capitalism has become in this country.
What I mean by that is, I suspect the change we have coming will be iterative and subtle, building upon each success as a natural, evolutionary step to the task just completed.
As Saturday Night Live opined recently, Obama plays it cool.
Howdy . . . CindyMax
Grass root organizing? It’s not only in a formative stage, it’s actually being actively implemented and conducted.
Are you aware that from December 15 to the 31st there were many many neighborhood meet ups all across the country relating to the health care issue? These were held as the Obama/Biden intiative called Health Care Community Discussions. Here’s the FAQ that was promulagated.
There is also a very fine way of communicating your thoughts and desires directly to the incoming administration.
So your main question was… “Is there a plan for grassroots action?”
Have you asked that question here?
Although both are very important,direct involvement in 3-D is so much more important and satisfying than blowing time at the keyboard.
I hope this info helps you as it has helped me.
Thanks for the link, OGD, as well as the analysis.