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In my previous post, I outlined three ways that progressives could change the face of American politics: (1) A movement within the Democratic Party, (2) A true third party movement, or (3) An independent movement that forces the Democrats to shift to the left.

These three methods, however, depend on one assumption. They require that we maintain the liberal-conservative axis that has dominated American politics for at least a century. Some progressives, however, are coming to believe that the key to meaningful change is to bring this familiar paradigm to an end. For us to forge a new political reality in the coming years and decades, we will need to find some new labels to help us define the American people.

This does not mean that we will operate in a non-partisan, category-free fantasy world. But it does mean that the lines of partisanship will be shifting, and that those who adjust and embrace the new categories will succeed in the new era. With this paradigm shift in mind, here are three new political dichotomies that are emerging:

(1) Corporatist vs. Populist

The idea that large corporations and their lobbyists have hijacked the American political system is far from new, and neither is the awareness that both Republicans and Democrats have been bought by corporate donations. Nonetheless, too many progressives are still breaking down the problem of corporatism along party lines, believing that the Republicans are the real problem and that the “true Democrats” can still work a solution.

Obama's first term (beholden to big corps in many ways) has cured many progressives of this notion. We need to see the issue as no longer Democrats vs. Republicans, but as those who work for big business (which is almost everyone currently in Washington) vs. those who fight for the people.

(2) Globalist vs. Localist

This dichotomy distinguishes those who see value in greater connectivity and greater inter-dependency between the various regions of the world from those who appreciate local diversity and independence.

From the abusive globalist economics of the IMF and transnational corporations; to the increasingly globalist politics emerging from organizations such as the UN and the EU; to the monoculture that is slowly spreading like a virus through mass media and cultural imperialism – in all of these ways, the world is becoming a new Tower of Babel.

But many people are fighting back against globalism and the rise of corporate dominance – as is evidenced in our country by the local food movement and the renewal of the isolationist spirit. “Small is beautiful” is an emerging slogan of this resistance that warms my heart.

(3) Materialist vs. Spiritualist

I won’t say much about these categories yet, but they are very different than “secular vs. religious.” They have nothing to do with the institutions of organized religion, and everything to do with the way we live our daily lives. Are we pursuing greater financial wealth and material gain for ourselves, or are we living self-sacrificial lives that seek to improve the welfare of others?

If we can begin to break down our culture into these and other new categories, instead of just saying that it’s liberal vs. conservative or left vs. right to the death, we will be many steps down the road of building a new and more progressive way of doing politics.

And here's the key: The Democratic Party can stick with the old paradigm, or it can begin to work according to new dichotomies. Perhaps it will take a strong independent movement to convince them.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Unfortunately in politics if you don't work for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, Just Bob

    big business to a certain extent you cannot win. Politicians need money to get re-elected and big money comes from Wall Street and minions of corporations.

    Politicians are also in politics for the ability to stuff their own pockets discreetly (and sometimes not so discreetly) Very few if any are in the sphere of politics to change the world.

    They are in politics for power, prestige and property.

    As Noam Chomsky says:

    Of course there are differences, but they are not fundamental. Nobody should have any illusions. The United States has essentially a one-party system and the ruling party is the business party.
    http://www.chomsky.info/...
    That does not mean that the Dems are the same as Repubs. Ultimately one helps people (even if it is not the best help), and one does not help the common masses.

    Chomsky also notes:

    there is indeed a difference between the two major parties and their candidates, if only a narrow one. While they both serve elites, Chomsky says, the Democrats, over time, help people.
    http://www.truthdig.com/...
    •  My hope is this... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bcdelta, NorthlandLiberal

      The notion that money will always dominate politics depends on the people letting that happen. If there were a way to educate and inspire the general population to actually do their homework, research the candidates, and find out which ones truly will work for them - then there is a chance. Otherwise, why are we even here wasting our time trying to improve politics?

      •  Online (0+ / 0-)

        I think lobbyists serve maybe 15% of the population and the fix to make politicians represent everyone is by organizing online.

        This was successful for blocking PIPA initially.

      •  The Future (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bcdelta, Just Bob

        What matters is the way the future will be shaped by the foundations that are being laid by those now alive.

        As an abstraction money will always dominate politics because it dominates a great deal of our efforts in life.  But when you break it down, there are categories more specific to what matters.

        The problem we have been seeing for about the last forty years is an effort on the part of those who believe they are advantaged by the unfettered ability to profit at the expense of the rest of us, to rig the rules so they are not hindered by any responsibility to communities or countries.  

        Massive amounts of money have been spent in a battle on a huge scale to accomplish a sort of fiscal Armageddon to reinstate a new feudalism.  

        The problem we have is to insure a larger vision of humanity than that inspires enough people that no matter how much money is spent trying to prevent it, the future will be a place with more consciousness.

        I tend to be optimistic on the basis that we simply have to survive, and we will.  But only if we use the brains that evolution has developed and work for it.  

        hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

        by Stuart Heady on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 06:03:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The power of corporations in politics is directly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Just Bob

      related to passivity and ignorance among the electorate.
      When we start to see bigger turnouts and more involvement, then we will see money and power wane in influence.
      The other factor is the religious right, who will make a pact with Satan himself in order to achieve a theocracy.

      You can't make this stuff up.

      by David54 on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 05:09:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Localist is often nativist. There (0+ / 0-)

    is a strong strand of it in both parties.

    •  Localists are often those who are concerned (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG

      with the local economy, those who wish to see an increase in local tax receipts after seeing the school budget cut 10% in each of the last two years, those who are tired of reductions in government services at the local level, those who wish to live in a thriving economy, and those who wish their neighbors well because we are connected.

      Love thy neighbor even if (s)he is a right wing Republican.

      Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

      by Just Bob on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 06:05:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well Written (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pat bunny, Citizenpower

    I'm for a 3rd party - had it with both of them.

    I think part 3 of your article is the most important.

    As a species we need to lessen and ultimately let go of fear the emotion from which most if not all bad behavior originates.

    I would further say as a species that we are bumping into a technical glass ceiling in that any given species cannot have advanced tech and a lack of compassion for those with the least.

    Reason being is the advanced tech (nukes, etc.) ultimately gets used and then we're back in the stone age.  

    Economically speaking fear/greed has brought us to the brink = easy for bad war to be triggered.

    None of this is about politics rather I see no other workable path forward for our species than compassion for those with less and balance in all things.

    •  I agree wholeheartedly, except... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bcdelta, Just Bob

      I think that being compassionate toward the least fortunate requires that one be political. Individual acts of charity are good, but cannot match what a compassionate and reasonable government can accomplish.

      •  Mixed (0+ / 0-)

        Jim  I agree with this to a degree in that govt. needs to set fair playing rules so the most vulnerable don't get screwed.

        But I think for real change people need to up their level of consciousness and this I think happens 1 person at a time and can't be achieved by legislation.

        •  What about Social Security, Medicare, etc? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bcdelta, Just Bob
          •  Agreed (0+ / 0-)

            This is what I meant by fair rules.  You can't screw the neediest in society so I'm not suggesting no govt. action.

            But for our species to advance and frankly survive long term people need to change and I think this means letting go of fear.

            Take the mortgage crisis.  While Wall Street and politicians for not keeping them in line hold the lion's share of the blame; none of this would have happened if retail home buyers were not so greedy.

            So plenty of blame to go around.  It's like that quote in the Pogo comic strip...

            We have met the enemy and he is us...

            •  "Greedy homeowners" did not cause the meltdown (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bcdelta, Just Bob

              Haven't you been listening for the last 3 years. They might have played a small part of it but they certainly did not cause the meltdown.

              •  Comment (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                David54

                Citizen - I hate Wall Street and think they are ruining the planet.  I also hold politicians highly responsible for not regulating banks, but the tech bubble and mortgage crisis would not have happened if individuals did not participate.

                I lived in California during the mortgage boom and all sorts of individuals were trying to make a quick buck.

                Same thing happened with the tech bubble - quick buck artists.

                So I'm not saying retail home buyers caused the meltdown at all rather we have a societal problem with greed.

                And if not changed we will keep repeating the cycle - boom to bust.

                So what does the guy that buys 3 houses that he can't afford have in common with a scumbag trader at Goldman Sachs?

                Greed.  The guy at Goldman does much more damage, but the motivation is the same  - fear based greed.

                •  Yes, greed is the problem (0+ / 0-)

                  I wonder who induced these folks to buy up those houses against all common sense? Where were the watch dogs telling them this was very risky?  A good consumer protection agency would have warned them.

                  Lack of regulations was clearly a big part of this as well.

                  My accountant husband warned people away from get rich quick schemes. Some listened, some didn't. Just a  short conversation with one investor letting him know that his
                  partner had not bothered to pay his accounting bill would have saved a guy from bankruptcy but its hard to tell a big shot real estate investor that he isn't as smart as he thinks he is.

                  •  We're just getting started re-educating (0+ / 0-)

                    people.
                    Wall Street sold a standard of living that was only attainable through predatory credit.

                    Thanks to Walmart et al, we saw a redistribution of wealth out of the middle class to the wealthiest.

                    Then we tried to make up for is by becoming dependent on predatory credit, which only accelerated the redistribution of wealth.

                    You are right about the lack of regulation.

                    We have to insist on regulation, and we have to restore the middle class.
                    Capitalism isn't sustainable otherwise. Neither is civilization.

                    You can't make this stuff up.

                    by David54 on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 05:59:06 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  I don't know where you got the "greedy" homeowner (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Just Bob

              idea.
              Homeowners bought the houses the builders were building and that the real estate people were selling.

              We didn't have a "housing" bubble or a "mortgage crisis".

              We had a "mortgage backed security"  bubble in which these risky mortgages were leveraged for up to 100 times their worth.

              The sellers of those mortgages expected the foreclosures to trickle in such that no one would really notice and the system would absorb the loss and they could resell the house.

              The other unsustainable fact was the consumer credit that everyone had been using to offset the fact of declining wages.

              When oil price speculation spiked, that burst the bubble. When gas hit $5/gal, that started a chain reaction and a downward spiral of the economy.

              It's true that consumers were foolish , and our society was foolish for promoting a standard of living that was only attainable through predatory credit.
              However, "greedy" homeowners were not the main cause of the problem.

              You can't make this stuff up.

              by David54 on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 05:52:59 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  However the Democratic Party Would Serve the (4+ / 0-)

    people, will have to be forced into it. Beginning Nov. 7th considerable independent organizing needs to be the norm for progressives most of the cycle until the primaries.

    The key as the rightwing proved is not an independent 3rd party, but an independent movement that feeds voters, candidates and issues into the Democratic Party. The rightwing replaced the Republican Party and that's what we have to do.

    Use any labels you want but nobody has yet addressed the fundamental issue that progressives have no way to contact the electorate and inform them. Any change you would make driven by the people requires accurately, pertinently informed people, which we don't have and nobody knows how to develop.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 05:25:14 PM PDT

  •  Not as simple as that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Superpole

    Having been around the block trying various ideas and arguments out on people over the years, I think things are in fact shifting in a progressive direction.

    The problem is that the entire political paradigm is not shifting into a faster gear quickly enough.

    People who are political tend not to be intellectuals and they tend to get information from reading people, not books so much.  

    Those who reach faster conclusions and who are ready to go out ahead of the herd are always frustrated that the "normal" part of the normal curve is so slow to catch up.

    Then you have the reactionary elements in society in general trying to throw monkey wrenches in every effort to even try to communicate about serious issues.  

    From what I have seen, the irony can be found within the ranks of the Party itself.  A great many active Democrats are very progressive.  When it comes to thinking of ways to get others to move faster, they tend to be cautious.  

    Responsible people, who believe in being Responsible with a capitol R, tend to be worrying about the slowest members of the herd and the need to keep a pace they can keep up with.

    The faster people are always frustrated with the slower people.  

    As I see it, a lot of the people I have met who are faster tend to not see any need to take on any responsibility for getting up at meetings and promoting the idea that the slower folks need to speed up in any way.  They generally don't want to do this because they don't really know what to say to people that aren't thinking at their speed.

    So there are complaints about this whole process and speculations about what to do.  

    A third party will just reinvent the problem and probably make it impossible to defeat Republicans at any level.

    It may not be a popular idea, but doubling down on the problem of being articulate and finding ways to reach out to people who should be persuaded is what is needed.  There are no automated systems or experts that can be hired. There is no way out of the problem at the root of all this:

    human nature.

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 05:37:30 PM PDT

    •  Good Take But (0+ / 0-)

      I'm not sure how "things are moving in a progressive direction" when the dems lost at least nine governor's seats in 2010. incl the hideous Walker in WI, Snyder in MI ("pro union states?).. lost control of the House and may lose control of the Senate this go around...?

      "A civilization which does not provide young people with a way to earn a living is pretty poor". Eleanor Roosevelt

      by Superpole on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 06:13:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In terms of energy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Just Bob

        Some thirty years ago energy conservation, green building standards, alternative generation for public utilities were radical and unproven concepts.  Now there is a history because a few localities were progressive enough to put public policy, bond money, and long term commitments into place.  The balance sheets can be seen and they prove a case.

        That creates a positive direction for progressive policy.  There are other places that show positive signs as well.  There should be more.  

        What I see is that progressive policy proposals tend to come from realism, from science and from really working to come up with solutions to problems.  

        Reactionary politics tends to be just digging in the heels and refusing to accept reality.  

        Thus, in the long run, progressive policies will be more likely to work.  

        In the short run, a lot of people can't hear for the noise that is being put out through all the loudspeakers just to jam the thinking that needs to be done.  

        The problem is to overcome that.

        hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

        by Stuart Heady on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 07:19:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Lotsa Luck with that One! (0+ / 0-)

    given the not Two Minutes Hate here daily as written in Orwell's 1984, but more like 24/7 Hate/hyperbole regarding Rmoney...

    again, I've been talking about this for years now.. the rank partisanship has gotten us ZERO. nowhere.

    it's merely babbling...

    "A civilization which does not provide young people with a way to earn a living is pretty poor". Eleanor Roosevelt

    by Superpole on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 06:09:04 PM PDT

  •  I suggest that you go ... (0+ / 0-)

    ... to blogspot.com or blogger.com and whip up some awesome enthusiasm over there, as you certainly don't belong here, whatever your motivations.

    .
    romney143

    I would tip you, but the man took away my tips.

    by Tortmaster on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 06:10:51 PM PDT

  •  It would help to get rid of the left/'right’ (0+ / 0-)

    mind-fuck.

  •  The problem isn't "corporations", it is size. (0+ / 0-)

    We allowed too many mergers. Now there are many companies who are "too big to fail", including Exxon-Mobil and Walmart, in addition to banks.
    What is good for the average person now is also good for business: sustainability.

    Likewise globalism is to some degree inevitable, because it's a function of our advancing technology, swelling population, and the facts of natural resource location.

    The problem with globalism is its foundation on exploitation of the developing world. China, for instance, is now having a problem with labor, who are demanding a better standard of living.

    If Aghans were educated, they'd know that their long term happiness and security would be assured if they once again became the "breadbasket" of that part of the world. That's not "isolationist", it's regionalist. Afghanistan has been bathed in blood because of the big powers' manipulation of their "isolationist" instinct for a century and a half.

    I would put the fault line on "educated" vs "uneducated".
    Big business exploits and destroys by means of manipulating the ignorant, by propaganda, by diversion.

    The other fault line is "sustainable".

    If we survive without a global catastrophe we will end up with a world in which business exists, sustainably, as a human endeavor. The machine (corporations) will exist as a tool for the benefit of humans.

    Agriculture and management of our resource will also hinge on "sustainability" rather than "corporate welfare" which is mis-named "free market" capitalism.

    Finally, we will have to stop killing one another and basing our "corporate welfare" economies on the MIC.
    Permanent global war is not sustainable.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 05:39:35 AM PDT

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