But “Venn” Is Just So Fun to Say!

A few days ago, I shared this schematic and called it a “Venn Diagram for the New Revolution.”:

One reader responded thusly:

“except the statement in the middle neither says that the government has too much power nor is part of the tea party opinion pool

conclusion: the author neither understands venn diagrams nor political opinions.”

I’m glad she/he did so, because it brings up an important point I should articulate further:

The daily talking points from the Libertarian Party, which I understand is NOT the Tea Party as such but draws form the same well, tows this line: “corporations have too much power because the government has too much power.” Even though strong elements in the Tea Party believe that limited government inevitably means more real power for corporations (and crazily, they’re okay with that), I do believe that there’s an equally sizable pool that agrees with corresponding parts of OWS on the idea that both corporations and the government have too much power, and that the problem is self-sustaining. Yes, a simple diagram doesn’t get at these nuances. But it’s helpful for people who believe as do I and many readers that powerful constituencies in OWS and the TP could collaborate in meaningful ways.

Who Is the American Middle? Almost Everyone You’ve Ever Known Is Crazy (but Might Not Know it Yet)


Who is the American Middle that has the power to make the 2012 election something different?

Most people reading this post.  That huge nexus of overlap between the responsible Tea Partiers and the responsible Occupiers.  The employed. The unemployed.  The insured and uninsured.  Homebuilders and homeless.  Students with too much debt, families without enough food.

A reader writes:  “I know you joke about your Kuccinich/Paul dream ticket, but I go one step further: it takes a group of crazy D’s and a group of crazy R’s putting aside all that easily divides them and works toward helping real people overcome the big government and big business working against them. What a concept?”

What a concept.  I hereby propose the noble and wrongly-maligned fox as the symbol of the next American electoral revolution.  If crazy is Ds, Rs, Is, TPs, OWSs all working together for the kind of change we need, I’m crazy all day long.

More Thoughts on the American Spring, Maxine Waters, and Reform-Based Populism

I get it.

Some people think Obama was supposed to be the American Spring.

Some people think the Tea Party is the American Spring.

Some people think the Tea Party should go straight to hell.  Some Congresspeople go and say it.

Al Gore says we need an American Spring to counteract the Tea Party.

With all due respect to the former Vice President, it blows my mind that he thinks true change and true progressive populism will somehow come from the Left.  It won’t come from the Right, either.  It will have to come from all quarters and cannot be about hating our ousting the Other.  It has to be about reforming the entire process of government, about locating power back in the hands of the people and away from the military-corporate-special interest-political complex.

You’d think Al Gore would know this.  But the heartstrings of  Establishment politics are strong. He might as well suggest that the American Spring will come prepackaged as a plank in his party’s platform, that it will leap, full-grown and ready to fight, from the DNC.  That’s what political parties need you to think, after all, that they are, to borrow a phrase from church studies, reformed and reforming.

But I’m not sure what Al Gore really gets from this.  I’m not sure why he doesn’t run against Obama, or why the Clintons don’t. They all know they’re each bigger than their party, more progressive, in certain ways, than their party’s been for quite some time.  But they are also American elites, and Gore’s a cradle case.  As global figures, the Clintons are so far removed now from their people-power roots.

Any populism orchestrated from the top is demagoguery meant to serve a party line.  In the case of the Tea Party, Republican elites are having to conform or align themselves to a movement they did not create and probably despise.  They don’t hate  it for the reasons Maxine Waters claims to, though.  They hate it because it’s not theirs and they can’t control it.  They’d tell it to go to hell, too, if they could.  But they offer nothing better.  No one does.

Obama’s old populist strength was framed as a charge from the outside, he was the Anti-Clinton and Anti-Bush who united people around promises of change and Rorschach memes like hope and “yes we can.”  And yes he did, by God, and what he achieved in his mere election is something to be celebrated then and now.  His presidency has been a mixed bag like all are, but gone forever is any semblance of Obama as Outsider, Populist, or Agent of Sweeping and Systemic Change.

Sweeping and systemic change will not come from the people we empower unless truly new political leadership emerges, post-partisan and pro-reform.  Our system is so broken, so corrupt, even the good things our leaders do can’t outweigh the need for consensus tickets willing to address the fundamental issues of decency and common good long-buried beneath the few things the parties manage to get right.

Yes, the Democrats are right about some things.  And so are the Republicans.  And the Green Party and the Libertarians.  There’s no seamless party garment (try being progressive, pro-life, and anti-death penalty if you don’t believe me.  Or trying being fiscally conservative and gay).  But before we even get to social questions, a fundamental shift in how our leaders pledge to lead us is essential.  Free people are not meant to be ruled. We are to be led, and we are to lead.