Stand Up Straight-51-Conclusion


Stand Up Straight                                Robert Creamer         Dec 2009
          Pretitle:  Listen to your Mother      Subtitle:  How Progressives Can Win


C. 51 The Challenges We Face: The Cultural and Political Ability of Our Society to Respond

We Can Decide No other major 21st-century challenges to our success and survival involves outside threats that are beyond human control. They do not involve an inevitable degeneration of our environment that results from natural processes, or climate changes brought on -- like the Ice Age -- by changes in the Earth's orientation in space. While hostile human beings may attack each other, we don't face an invading army from another planet, la "The War of the Worlds." No society on some other planet will cut off trade relations and leave us stranded like Henderson or Pitcairn Island. The sole exception may be the development and spread of microbial pathogens that infect large populations before we learn how to immunize yourselves, control their spread, or cure those who are stricken. In our case, these challenges all involve human decisions and human actions. We control our destiny.  The real challenge facing us in the 21st century is: are we up the challenge?

When it comes to the principal factors that have caused the collapse of societies in the past, we've seen how fundamentalist conservative values fail to meet these challenges. Traditional progressive values result in priorities for action that allow us the best opportunity to cope with the challenges.
 
Overriding Factors -- Political Special Interests, Short-Term Focus, Failure to Adapt  Analyzing why past societies fail to make the right choices, Diamond's study identified several overriding factors. One is the dominant decision making elite whose short-term self-interest does not correspond with the long-term interest of society. That is discussed in more detail in section 9. The other is the failure to adapt societies values, its priorities for action, and its resource allocation to new conditions.
 
Critical Thinking and Open Societies   It's necessary for world society to foster values and protect critical thinking, curiosity, scientific inquiry, research and education, diversity and tolerance, and free expression. Radical conservative fundamentalist values fail to meet this test. All you need to do is look at the debate over evolution and "intelligent design," or the attempts to limit stem cell research, or see the massive anti-scientific bias in fundamentalist conservative thought. Of course, in fact, any value system that believes it is the sole possessor of "revealed truth" or "moral law" discourages discovery and critical debate. It discourages the constant critical re-examination of the assumptions that lie at the core of scientific progress.

Tolerance for diversity -- in ideas, culture, race, and religion -- underlies critical thinking and the ability to adapt our values and priorities to meet our challenges. The concept of "integrity" has as its foundation this progressive view of values and morality. Protecting a tolerant diverse society -- protecting critical thinking and free expression -- requires a progressive understanding of human rights. That is why progressives are so committed to the concept of the right to privacy.

  It's Always Done in the Name of National Security Historically, national security is always the rationale used by governments to restrict these rights. The Germans used the burning of the Reichstag as a premise to pass laws against the Jews, leftists and other "enemies of National Socialism." Stalin use national security as a rationale to send tens of thousands of Russians to gulags. The same with military dictatorships in Latin America, the Patriot Act in United States and many others. It is not only those arrested who suffer. It is the entire society as creativity and vitality of curiosity are suppressed by fear.

Clearing the Gauntlet Planetary Scientist David Grinspoon's book, "Lonely Planets," that explores the question of extraterrestrial life -- both the basic biological life and intelligent sentient life. In this he speculates on the chances of survival of intelligent life in the universe. He argues that every civilization of intelligent creatures must pass through a gauntlet that tests whether the values and political structures of the society are capable of keeping pace with the exponentially increasing power of the society's technology. If they can, the society may pass into a phase of enormous freedom and possibilities, if not, the power of its own technology will destroy it. This concept is also discussed by the famous Drake Equation. The next several generations of humans will decide how that race turns out. We will decide if we pass through that gauntlet or -- like our cousins the Neanderthals -- become evolutionary dead ends.

C. 52 The Progressive Vision -- the Kind of Society We Want to Create

The Foundation Is Progressive Values   The progressive vision of our future is about making it through that gauntlet. It's about successfully meeting the 21st century challenges to our success and survival. Explaining our vision is about reaffirming our faith in progressive values as the standards we use to craft the future. That faith can be expressible in symbols of our progressive religious traditions, and in the language of our civic tradition -- the Bill of Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the progressive tradition of our political history. But there is a competing frame embedded in the unconscious that denies this and calls up another darker set of inclinations. It is our task as progressives to activate and affirm these progressive frames and to communicate them to all.

What Kind of Society Do We Reject  We want a society that avoids the potential catastrophes implicit in the challenges we've just discussed.

The Future's Possibility Our technology could allow us to create a society where everyone can satisfy our physical needs, control and find structure in their lives, nurtures respectful human relationships, where everyone has creative work, is free to make their own commitments, and can find their own path to meaning and fulfillment.

Escape from Economic Necessity -- A New World of Creative Work   Throughout our history, most human beings have been plagued by economic necessity, this is still the case for many people, especially in the developing world. This is no longer a necessity, it is only true by human choice. There are three ways people experience their work lives. For some, work is simply a job -- a way to generate income necessary for life. The second is a career. Work contributes directly to the status, power, and identity of the worker. The third is a calling. You would do the work even if you were never paid, you would do it because of its intrinsic value.

It would be possible for everyone to have the opportunity to do work that is a calling. Such a world would be made possible by the wise use of our technology and overcoming the challenges we have discussed; overpopulation and over taxation of natural resources. The second necessary ingredient is the elimination of structural inequality and exploitation.

A Secure Future   Eliminating economic necessity would have monumental consequences for our physical security. Economic necessity causes fear, fear leads to hatred, division, and war. Eliminating economic necessity is necessary for solution but is not sufficient, at least three more elements are required:

A Truly Democratic Society   For most of the time that humans existed on earth, their societies were similar to that of their ape ancestors. They banded together in small hunter-gatherer bands with egalitarian social structures where all gathered their own food and shelter. With the advent of agriculture this began to change so that more and more people are freed from the daily grind of food collection. Now we are approaching a condition where all will have sufficient food and shelter without constant labor. Now the qualitative change of technology can transform this gradual process into a truly quantitative change in the structure of all society. To do this requires us to: Personal Freedom to Select and Achieve Goals and Structure Life  The end of economic necessity can do more than any other single factor to broaden personal freedom to select goals and structure one's life. Economic necessity is the foundation of structural violence. It and would allow hundreds of millions of people to massively broaden their personal freedom. However another element is critical. Technology in the hands of despots can be used to bring the opposite of freedom -- control and tyranny. To create freedom, technology must exist in a democratic society with strong protections for individual rights.
 
Unprecedented Levels of Intellectual Stimulation and Fulfillment 
Computers and the internet now allow everyone to access and manipulate information to a degree that would've been impossible to imagine 50 years ago. With universal education and the removal of the necessity for physically difficult, repetitive menial work, all people will have the ability to advance as far as their own capabilities and interests lie.

A Society with New Possibilities for Rich, Stimulating, Mutually Respectful Social Relationships
 A progressive democratic society with sufficient leisure time to devote to it outside pursuits would allow us to empathize with each other and strengthen the foundation for mutual respect and toleration of the diversity.

A Society Where Each Person Is Empowered to Seek His Own Meaning in Life, To Make Commitments of His Own Choosing, To Live Out His Own Dreams and to Develop His Own Intellectual, Physical, and Spiritual Capabilities to the Maximum Extent He Desires   This is the progressive concept of human freedom -- a society for each person is empowered to create his own meeting, his own identity -- to commitments of his own choosing. The end of economic necessity and the creation of a democratic society are prerequisites to make such a vision possible. Progressives believe that we are only capable of achieving this goal together -- not separately. Progressive also believe that working together we have the best chance of benefit -- not only for the entire society -- but for each of us individually. Society is not a zero-sum game -- rather, we believe that helping everyone to be proud of who he is, to be more productive, better educated, and healthy, gives us all the ability to live richer, smarter, healthier, more secure, and more meaningful lives.

The Next Great Leap Forward   Twice before humans have faced major changes -- the first was (150,000 to) 50,000 years ago when changes in the brain and voice box resulted in modern humans, the second was about 13,000 years ago with the invention of agricultural food production.  Now we are facing a qualitative change in technology.  But first we have to make it through Grinspoon's gauntlet.

Describing the Progressive Vision and the Struggle to Make It Reality: Vision is Critical to Victory   Our eloquence at describing the progressive vision is critical to our ability to make it reality. The voters instinctively want to know where leaders want to take them. More importantly, vision inspires. By inspiring swing voters with our vision for the future we persuade them. By inspiring mobilizable voters, we motivate them.

Vision inspires because it calls on the listener to commit himself to bring that vision into being -- to make it reality. It addresses the most critical human self-interest -- the need for meaning. The great political leaders and movements of history have all called on their followers to turn that vision into reality. More than anything else people are searching for meaning. Political movements that hold out a vision of the future and ask for commitment to help make it real provide that sense of meaning.

What Describing the Progressive Vision Does Not Involve   Very often Progressives make the mistake of confusing a statement of progressive vision with two things that it definitely is not:

A list of policies and programs that we support. Policies and programs are not a vision. We lost the 2004 presidential election, in part, because our candidate talked about policy and programs while the Republicans talked about right and wrong and their vision for the world.

A slogan. The slogan is not a statement of our vision either -- although a metaphoric slogan can become a shorthand symbol for a vision that is painted in broader strokes elsewhere. Some of the stand-in slogans are familiar to us all: The New Deal, The New Frontier, The Great Society, The Blessed Community, I Have a Dream, and The Bridge to the 21st Century. These slogans have two things in common, they paint a picture in our minds with inspirational language and they describe progressive values that Progressives won.  Regardless, slogans by themselves this do not describe our vision, to be useful, they must refer back to a broader understanding of that vision that is regularly repeated elsewhere.

Rules for Communication Our Vision of the Future

Rule #1 The vision must be placed in the progressive value frame and set up a contrast between progressive and conservative values. We have to activate the unconscious progressive value frame that is present in everyone.  We must be self confident and assertive.

Rule #2 The vision must be placed in an historic context. The vision must be seen to be important. 

Rule #3 Like all political communication we need to use symbols. Visions are about seeing things -- not thinking about them. These symbols must make the voter feel and visualize our vision of the future.

Rule #4  Most important, the statement of our vision must inspire voters and call on them to make a commitment to the task of making the vision into reality.

Progressives need to rekindle hope that the next generation will live better than our own.

Rule #5 We must explain America's leadership role in achieving our mission -- how America can be the "city on the hill" -- an example of those values that define our vision of the future.

Rule #6 The best possible symbol for the progressive vision is a person -- a leader or candidate or role model that defines our hope for the future; a transforming leader.

Examples -- Speeches That Described a Progressive Vision of the Future   Each of the five speeches mentioned below describes the speaker's progressive vision. Each takes traditional American progressive values and applies them to a particular historic moment. Each uses the progressive value frame and an understanding of history to frame the debate. Each chooses powerful, visual symbols that engages the listener's emotions. Each enlists and inspires the listener to join the struggle to make his vision a reality by asking commitment and sacrifice.

John Kennedy's Inaugural Address
Lyndon Johnson's Inaugural Address
Franklin Roosevelt's First Inaugural Address
Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream Speech"
Barak Obama's Keynote Address to the 2004 Democratic Convention


Throughout our history, American leaders have proudly, clearly, and self confidently invoked the progressive values that define America's greatness. They called upon our state citizens to sacrifice -- not because of their failure, but in order to create a better life for our children. They called upon Americans to commit themselves to the common good -- to each other and the next generation. We know how to inspire. We know how to call on people to hope. We can awaken America to lead the world to overcome the challenges of the 21st century and realize the great promise of a truly democratic society.

Section IX   BUILDING A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY

C. 53 Structural Change  A democratic society is not just about voting, it is not just about due process, protection of minority rights, etc. -- although those are important. A democratic society is one in which power is widely diffused to everyone.

What Is Power?  Our working definition is that power is the ability to select and achieve goals. In the social context that often requires the ability to change the behavior of others; power is getting other people to do things that they would not otherwise do. Social power can be exercised in a variety of ways -- persuasion, intimidation, coercion, physical force, or incentives. However individual power can be exercised and enhanced without any reference to others at all. 

Why a Democratic Society Is So Important in the Modern World -- The Importance of Structural Change
Power and Struggle The theory that for me to have a more fulfilling life, you have to have a less fulfilling life -- is just not true. There are places in life where there is truly a zero-sum game, there can only be one president at a time. However there doesn't have to be competition over who can eat, this must not be considered a zero-sum game.

Frederick Douglass said "Power surrenders nothing without a struggle. It never has, it never will." Progressives need to understand that that building a democratic society -- at home and around the world -- is not just about good ideas, or civil conversation. It's about political struggle.

 C. 54 The Progressive Agenda for Structural Change The progressive agenda for action should focus heavily on political struggle that affects the distribution of power in society. We need to focus on structural change that democratizes and diffuses power in society, and empowers everyday people. It is a fine thing for people to devote time and energy on a wide array of issues and interests, however the principal focus for progressive energy should be the battles that directly affect the distribution of power.

The Battle over the Distribution of Wealth and Income, and the Control of Wealth in The United States  More than any other factor, the possession of wealth and income impact your power -- your ability to select and achieve goals -- in modern society. Over the last 50 years a smaller and smaller percentage of the population has to come to control a larger and larger percentage of America's income and wealth. In Congress this drive for more wealth and income concentration is embodied in the Republicans continued attempt to make their tax cuts permanent, repeal the estate tax, destroy unions, and create trade policies that benefit the wealthy. In section 7 several direct means to end income and wealth inequality were discussed: Several other factors that can indirectly affect the democratization of wealth and income are:

Maintaining strong pensions for retirees   The US pension system is in serious jeopardy, and fundamentalist conservatives are working hard to make the matters worse. There was a serious effort under President Bush to privatize Social Security which luckily failed. Over the last two decades, the system of guaranteed private pensions provided by corporations has by and large been jettisoned in favor of employee investment accounts (401 (k)'s and the like). There is a long story from Malcolm Gladwell that appeared in the New Yorker. There is a real problem with industry sponsored private retirement accounts. As companies become more efficient the ratio between workers and retirees drops and if companies go out of business both workers and retirees are in trouble We must continue to defend Social Security and we should also propose nationally managed investment programs for all Americans and all companies that would allow employees to move between jobs and spread the risk among many employers and employees.

The critical need for universal health care. Health care is a national disgrace. The health-care debate in late 2009 and early 2010 has been a disaster.

The Upcoming Health-Care Battle -- The Stage Is Set

A brief description of the health-care debate under President Clinton and his predictions of things to come.

Tasks that Must Be Done to Assure Victory in the Battle for Health Care for All Mounting a successful campaign to reshape the structure of one sixth of the American political economy is a tall order. It is daunting, but it can be done, victory is possible only if: A progressive Democrat is elected president. Distribution Of Quality Educational Opportunity  A huge factor affecting long-term income distribution is educational attainment. After WW II, a high school education was the typical entry to a middle-class lifestyle. Today a middle-class income requires at least a college degree.  College costs have gone up faster than any other portion of the economy. A higher and higher percentage of all students at competitive colleges come from the richest families. Much of this inequality results from the differential level of preparation offered by the wealthy to its children, another part results from "affirmative action" programs for the wealthy.

Part of a progressive agenda to democratize society has to include universal free preschool; free universal higher education; and equal funding for secondary education.

Economic Development
A final means of indirectly decreasing income and wealth inequality is economic development in poor neighborhoods, eliminating "redlining," mortgages, major capital, and bank loans.

The Battle to Defend The Public Sector -- The Public Sector must be Expanded to Provide Goods and Services that are Not Provided Efficiently by the Private Market. The Battle to Restrict the Power of Corporations to Damage the Environment and Discharge Greenhouse Gases that Cause Climate Change Corporate managers are not necessarily bad people. Corporate managers have been hired to maximize short-term results, and that conflicts with what's best for our environment and the climate.

The Battle to Unionize the Workforce Unionized workers make about 30% more than their counterparts in comparable jobs. It's no accident that the share of our national income going to the wages of working poor people is at a 50 year low. White nonunion men typically vote 80% Republican, while white labor union members vote two thirds Democratic. Union members turn out to vote at rates far in excess of other voters. Union membership has been targeted by Republicans for many years. Some of the things did we need to do to revitalize the labor movement are:

The Battle to Prevent Consolidation of America's Media in the Hands of a Few  For many years the FCC has been allowing greater concentrations of media ownership. One proposal in 2003 was canceled because of a bipartisan crusade of opposition. We need to keep up the good work. This pertains to broadband access as well, "net neutrality" must be maintained.

The Battle for Immigration Reform and Naturalization of Immigrants  There are three major issues involved in this problem.

The Battle for Electoral Reform and Public Financing of Elections  America will never have truly fair and democratic elections if the wealthy have disproportionate influence through large campaign contributions. Ever since the Civil War, Southerners, then Democrats, and now Republicans, and other fundamentalist conservatives have been promoting laws to decrease access to the polls.

The Battle to Control the World's Exploding Population -- And Each Person's Impact on Global Resources  No matter how advanced the technology nor how perfect a democratic society is, if there are too many people and the earth does not produce sufficient food or other resources, we cannot wipe out starvation and hunger. There are at least four priority fronts in this battle:

The Battle to Reduce Structural Violence -- Especially in Developing Countries  One of the tragedies of fundamentalist conservative philosophy and especially the Bush presidency, is the immense amount of money spent on war-making when a much smaller amount of money could have done so much good if it was invested in public health, HIV treatments, health-care clinics, fresh water, education for women, etc. Some of the projects that could be accomplished with only a portion of this money are the following: The Battle to Empower Multinational Organizations -- Especially the United Nations -- To Bring Peaceful Resolution to International Disputes, Promote Human Rights, and Foster Economic Development  The Neocons do not share this goal. Progressives are not about an American empire. We are about the world community -- a stable, peaceful, prosperous, democratic world community. Progressives do not support American domination, but rather American leadership. Progressives reject unilateralist, preemptive action. The author considers the example of Europe. After WW II, America took the lead in promulgating the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, which led to the European Common Market and the European Union. Compare this to NAFTA.

The Battle for Muscular Multilateralism -- The United States Needs to Maintain a Strong, Flexible Military.  U.S. Military Power Should be used to Promote a Progressive Agenda, as Often as Possible in Multinational Context  In all societies, force or the threat of force is used to guarantee peaceful resolution of disputes and enforce the society's laws. The same is true in the international context. The question is not whether the threat of force will be used. It is how it will be controlled and to what ends. Progressives need to fight to ensure that US military power is used to enforce a developing body of international law, using processes of legitimate international institutions.

In large part the Clinton administration attempted to follow these principles. The author devotes several pages to showing how the Clinton approach to North Korea was working, if slowly. He contrasts this with the Bush approach which immediately began failing.

Preventing the Proliferation Of Weapons of Mass Destruction in General and Nuclear Weapons in Particular  Currently the greatest danger to international peace is weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons. The world had been moving towards reducing this threat for a number of years but when Bush and the Neocons came to power they seemed to be planning to do just the opposite, to increase the danger.

The Battle to Defend Human Rights -- At Home and Abroad  The author presents several articles by Garrison Keeler and by Ariel Dorfman, a Chilean American writer and professor at Duke University. Both of these are very forceful in defending the concept of human rights and showing how the current fundamentalist conservative philosophy is endangering American citizens.

Continuing the Fight to End Discrimination  For the last half-century, Progressives have fought with increasing success to eliminate discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. This fight must be continued and if we control the frame and the terms of the debate, will win us additional supporters.

Appointments to the Judiciary  Democrats must fight as hard as they can to prevent a solid fundamentalist conservative majority on the Supreme Court that might last for decades. There is just too much at stake.

Protection of the Civil Justice System  For the last two decades, Big Business has continued a sustained assault to limit the ability of negligence victims to recover damages in court. This so-called tort reform has been a favorite target of fundamentalist conservatives for years. Their favorite statement is it raises prices for all of us, but they have never been able to successfully show any economic relationship. The only direct relationships that have ever been published are the fact that liability insurance premiums tend to increase when earnings on insurance company investment stock portfolios fall.

Prison and Sentencing Reform  America locks up five times more of its citizens than the average for the rest of the world. 25% of all the world's prisoners are in US prisons and jails -- even though we have only 5% of the worlds population. The US -- home of the free -- incarcerated more of its citizens than any other country. The cost of the prison system is staggering, $90 billion a year and prisons are bursting at the seams. In the end, 95% of inmates are released back into our communities, and two thirds of them are released prisoners who returned to jail. In other words, the American prison system is failing at its key mission -- making our society safer. Here are some reasons why:

These are not just pro-prisoner issues. Prisoners should return to the community equipped to make a contribution to society and avoid further criminal activity. America's approach to prisons today doesn't produce that result. How can Progressives talk about an issue like prison reform and sentencing in a way that will appeal to most ordinary Americans? The Battle for Progressive Control of Government at All Levels in the United States  The outcome of the public policy battles we've just described hinges on progressive control of government at the local, state, and federal levels throughout the United States.

Obviously control of the federal government is the most important, since federal policy has the most impact in creating a democratic society in the US and around the world. But state and local governments have enormous impact also. The past practice of writing off huge sections of America because they are unlikely to object elect Democrats to Congress or are not swing presidential states, greatly weakens our ability to achieve our goals. However it's also important to target resources strategically around elections to win control of the Congress and the presidency. It won't do much good to have a "strong" local Democratic Party in an America dominated by the right. Too much is at stake. Politics is not a drill. It's the real thing that affects everyday people -- and the future of humanity -- every day. It's our job to win.

The Battle for the Progressive Control of Governments around the World  The US should encourage regimes to promote institutions that protect workers rights, to control the power of corporations that destroy the environment, to encourage free universal education and health-care, stand for trade agreements that create international standards for labor and environmental rights. America should always be a leader of the struggle for freedom and progressive governments -- not military dictatorships, or the world's most powerful corporations and moguls.

Progressives Must Organize and Support Mass Movement That Empowers the Powerless -- Both Here and Abroad  Frederick Douglass used to say, "You can't have the rain without thunder and lightning." Apartheid did not end in South Africa without a mass movement spearheaded by the African National Congress -- and an international economic boycott. America did not win its independence without the Revolutionary War. African-Americans didn't get the right to vote without sit-ins, freedom rides, and marches. Freedom and democracy do not just happen, they are born of struggle.

The battle for a progressive future is not solely about policy choices, or values, or vision. It's not just about nuts and bolts execution, or effective messaging. It's about involving millions of everyday people in the battle for the future -- the battle to create a democratic society.

Conclusion Priorities for Action  Most progressives care about two things that impart meaning to an action:

The question of our priorities for our action is at once both strategic and personal. As a movement, we need to decide on priorities that will maximize our chances of creating a society built on progressive values. In the near term, we need priorities that will give us the best chance of turning this historic opportunity into a long-term progressive realignment of American politics. And individually, each of us needs to decide how we can personally contribute. The author presents a list of 18 particularly important priorities for Progressives in the months and years ahead.

Priority 1  Framing the Debate, Progressives Need to Consistently Frame the Political Dialogue In Terms of Progressive Values and the Progressive Vision for the Future

More Americans said that they share the moral values of Progressive Democrats than those whose who share the values of fundamentalist conservative Republicans. However in one poll 84% of Republican voters surveyed said they knew what the Republican Party stands for while only 42% of Democratic voters knew what the Democratic party stood for. John Halprin and Ruy Teixeira in their 2006 paper "The Politics of Definition" covered this issue (See pdf file of the same name on the hard drive). For several years now some Democrats in Congress have been fighting this issue but policies by themselves won't do the trick. An essential truth of human nature is that frames trump facts. When presented with facts are consistent with the frame through which people view the world, the frame will generally win, and inconsistent facts will be discarded or discounted.

That's why our top priority has to be the relentless, proud, self-confident repetition of our frame, our values, and our vision for the future. We have to activate the progressive value frame that exists in the minds of swing voters. We have to set the frame for political debate in America. It's our job to shape the voters unconscious understanding of what constitutes political "common sense."
Priority 2  Victory Requires That We Give Equal Attention to Our Strategy, Values, and Vision on the One Hand, And the Nuts and Bolts of Execution on the Other.

Discussion of great political strategy, profession of deeply held values, and clarity of vision are essentially irrelevant academic exercises if they are not an integral part of effective political action. Political success generally hinges much more on solid nuts and bolts execution than a dozen great thinkers and political visionaries, but getting elected alone will not succeed in creating long-term progressive political realignment in America in the absence of clearly articulated strategy, values, and vision. We need both.

Priority 3  Persuadables and Mobilizables. The Two Decisive Groups Who Are the Primary Target for a Communication are the Persuadable And Mobilizable Voters Who Decide the Outcome of Elections.

Remember, persuadable voters are the relatively small group that regularly votes, but switches back and forth between political parties. Mobilizable voters are the group that would vote Democratic, but will not go to the polls unless they are mobilized. They are the only two groups whose behavior can be changed by a political campaign.

Priority 4  The Base Voters Versus Swing Voters Conflict Is a Myth. While the Messages That Persuade Swing Voters and Motivate Mobilizable Voters Are Different, They Need Not Conflict.

Candidates who self confidently communicate a progressive vision, demonstrate their commitment to progressive values, and inspire voters with passion and commitment are the most effective at persuasion and mobilization. Those who argue that to win, progressive candidates have to hide their values, moderate their positions, or avoid battles are generally wrong.

Priority 5  We Need to Remember That People Vote for People -- Not Ideas, or Issues.

Persuadable voters are convinced by the personal qualities of a candidate, and candidates can motivate and mobilize the voters if they can inspire them -- if they can give them a sense of excitement and empowerment.

Priority 6  Organizing for Victory. We Need to Focus Our Resources on Building Lasting, Mass-based Organizations -- for Electoral And Issue Campaigns.

Some people think that TV, great PR, and the Internet have made mass-based organizations obsolete. Wrong. Serious mass-based organization is the future.

There's no reason why we should have to reinvent the wheel every election. Democrats need to create nationwide, permanent, precinct-based, door-to-door organizations that develop indigenous local leaders to manage the precinct, new voter ID and GOTV operations, and build support between elections. This emphasis runs contrary to the priority placed on most campaigns on paid TV advertising -- a priority that rests primarily on the economic incentives of many political consultants who make more from TV than from field operations.

Priority 7  We Must Redefine "Common Sense" by Repeatedly Communicating Progressive Message Frames Day in and Day out.

Priority 8  Changing the Relations of Power. We Need to Focus on Making Structural Change -- On Changing the Relations of Power in Order to Create a Truly Democratic Society around the World.
Priority 9  It's the Steak, Not Just the Sizzle. Substance Matters to Political Outcomes.

In the beginning Bush was going strong. His message and spin people were experts and they were doing their job well. However his policies were not going well. The Iraq policy was not working, the emergency preparedness policy (Katrina) did not work, and his economic policies were not working. You can only spin yourself out of a problem for a while. Sooner or later people begin to compare words with reality -- and when they don't match up they're going to become mad.

Priority 10  Big Ideas. Reclaiming the American Dream.

We need to develop grassroots and message-based campaigns to support passage of major congressional initiatives to deal boldly with the new issues facing America. Some of these are:

Energy independence should have three meanings:
  1. That we no longer are dependent on nonrenewable sources of energy such as oil;
  2. That America itself can produce enough energy to meet our core needs;
  3. That we are no longer dependent on energy sources that will destroy our climate and environment.
Each of these elements of the "Agenda to Reclaim the American Dream" has broad, intense support in polling. What we need is the political will to turn that support into the centerpiece of American political dialog.

Priority 11  We Must Press Congress to Do Whatever Is Necessary To Force the Redevelopment of American Troops Out Of Iraq -- and Abandoned the Precepts of Neocon Foreign Policy.

This is a must. Democrats won the 2006 midterms largely because the war in Iraq convinced many Americans that Republicans were no longer fit to govern.

Priority 12  Agents of Change. To Be Successful, Democrats and Progressives Must Consistently Positioned Themselves As Populists -- As Agents of Change.

We see ourselves as agents of change. But that's not how many people have historically seen us. Many conservatives believe that we represent the "cultural" status quo --the Hollywood, professional, bureaucratic, social engineering, lots a drinking, liberal who smugly looks down on them and wants to control their lives. While many conservatives will never be convinced to the contrary, there also many persuadable voters who can be swayed when we demonstrate the we favor change, challenge entrenched power and truly believe in democracy -- that we battle for average people because we are average people. Whether or not we appear as populist agents of change on the one hand or the defender of elites on the other depends on three factors:

In his book, Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich,Kevin Phillips points out that the Democratic administrations that have been successful historical watersheds have always presented themselves in populist terms -- in opposition to entrenched elites.

Priority 13   Projecting a Winning Attitude.

People don't want to follow losers or whiners; they want to spend time with winners. If we don't think we are winners, we will never win the long-term battle for the hearts and minds of Americans. Progressives and progressive values will define the future, and human progress. We have to believe that -- and always act as if it is true. And that means that Progressives need to stop spending half their time criticizing fellow Democrats.

Priority 14   Building a Progressive Movement.

His book,  Being Right Is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn from the Conservative Success, Paul Waldman quotes a 1971 memo by Lewis Powell, who would later be nominated by Richard Nixon to the Supreme Court.

In what could stand as a model for the conservative movement he helped spawn, Powell wrote, "strength lies in organization, and careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, and the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power of available only from united action and national organizations."
The Right created a coherent political movement. There is also a progressive movement in America, but it needs to be dramatically strengthened to effectively compete with the conservative movement over the long run. Several steps are necessary:
Priority 15   Progressives in America Need to Work Closely with Progressives around the World.

In an increasingly integrated world, Progressives must coordinate our strategies, and provide mutual assistance to each other around the globe. American progressives need to get to know progressive leaders from around the world. We can build a worldwide vision for the future of the planet that is rooted in internationally recognized progressive values.

Priority 16   Hope Trumps Fear

Unvarnished fear is a destructive emotion. It doesn't lead to action, but paralysis. It doesn't inspire sacrifice for the common good; it either fosters a malaise of hopelessness or a "save yourself" desperation. For years, Bush and the fundamentalist conservatives have used fear as their chief weapon to maintain support and justify their attempts to aggregate unconstrained power. Roosevelt was right: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Progressives must be realistic about the many challenges that face America; but we must offer hope for success. Human beings respond instinctively to a call to sacrifice for hope and possibility. While they can be immobilized by fear, hope makes them stand tall and fight.

Priority 17   Politics Is Not Just Another Game -- We Have To Fight Like the Future of Human Society Is at Stake -- Because It Is.

Human beings have never knowingly been forced to make decisions with more consequences than we will be called upon to make in the 21st century. The political decisions of this generation will determine if humanity makes it through that gauntlet; whether our values and political structures can keep pace with our expanding technological capability; whether we can create a truly democratic society, or become an evolutionary dead end.

Priority 18   Don't Stand on the Sidelines.

Meaning in life involves making commitments to something outside yourself. The author believes that we can all contribute, there is no more important work -- nothing more meaningful to which you can commit your life. He offers a number of possibilities:
To paraphrase Margaret Mead: "Never think that a small group of committed people can change the world. No one else ever has."

On Wednesday, January 20, 2010 the Huffington Post published an article from Robert Creamer regarding the defeat of Martha Coakley in Massachusetts: Robert Creamer: Lessons From the Massachusetts Defeat

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