Uniting the Left–With the Wrong Question As Usual

11 Society, Cultural Intelligence, IO Sense-Making
John Steiner


The big question: What story about America’s future can unite the U.S. left?

David Roberts, 9 May 2011

grist: a beacon in the smog

U.S. politics is at an interesting inflection point.

On one side, the American right grows ever more homogeneous: ethnically, socioculturally, and ideologically. On the other, the American left is an unwieldy coalition of minorities, unions, single working mothers, Blue Dogs, feminists, young people, knowledge workers, culture and entertainment elites, scientists, GLBT folks, environmentalists, social justice groups, Jews, Muslims, atheists, moderates, socialists … even Joe Lieberman for a while.

Precisely because it is homogeneous, the right is intense. There is no political force more potent than a privileged class in the process of losing its privilege. The right base sees itself as an Us beset on all sides by Thems; cries Michele Bachmann, “are we going to take our country back?” The status quo does not go gentle into that good night. The right speaks with a common voice, around a core set of narratives: small government, big military, low taxes, family values. Most importantly, they organize, vote, and donate.

The left, by contrast, is a contentious coalition of Thems, speaking with a cacophony of voices, often at cross purposes, perpetually less than the sum of its parts. Make no mistake: if that coalition can hold together, it will win in the end. It's demographic destiny: The U.S. is becoming more diverse, less religious, more socially liberal, less nuclear-family, and more urban. And it's happening faster than predicted. We're on our way to an America with more Thems than Us's.

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Phi Beta Iota: The author misses the incoherence of the right on substance.  And this is, for the left, the wrong question, as usual.  The correct question is:   America the Beautiful is the original vision, the vision lost.  What narrative can bring us all back together and restore the Republic, Of, By, and For all of the people all of the time?

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