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Appreciative Interviews

Occupy Express Plenary

Enlightened Politics

Date posted: Monday, July 23, 2012, 12:16 PM
From: Bruce Schuman
Date edited: 7/23/2012, 1:12 PM
Msg ID: 106571
A reply to: Msg. 106553
Posted: Sent to all subscribers

Hi again.

Just want to push a few thoughts into circulation -- that for me, are carrying a lot of hope and excitement. I'm going to try the slightly glossier format for this message group, and see whether these emails get through the spam filters...

I did post a longish message to another group this morning -- on my own "Evolutionary History of the New Politics" -- which more or less reviews something like 20 events or influences that have shaped my own ideas and instincts on politics. One of those influences, of course -- was/is the Occupy movement.

So, this statement does more or less review what is shaping my instinct -- that today, we need and are ready for a powerful new central vision of what to do and how to pull it together...

The way it looks to me -- this new book from EJ Dionne, "Our Divided Political Heart" -- is a total political home run -- a brilliant and hopeful statement about who we are, how our history has shaped us -- how we have tended to forget our history, and figure we have to reinvent everything, when it's actually inherent in our national traditions, and begging to be re-awakened. Apparently Bill Clinton also thinks very highly of this book.

EJ made a great appearance on the Jon Stewart Daily Show a few days ago.

This interview is hot -- because Stewart totally gets it, and nails the conversation from the first word. So it's a great introduction to the EJ vision.

Take a look at this if you can. It rocks.



Thus far in our collective internet political history, most political organizing has run on something like the "flash mob" mentality. A bunch of people get excited about a simple one-dimensional agenda, and they all rush off in a common direction. That does make a dent -- and that's more or less what happened with Occupy last year (bless them, bless us, bless the wavy fingers and circles in the grass).

But the problem is -- this one-dimensional rush energy conceals within it a huge diversity of confused and often conflicting motivations -- that the flash-mob organizing principle totally ignores. The great "Arab Spring" -- successful though it may have been -- suffered from the same thing. When the dust settled, in too many places, the army was still in control and the people were still scattered....

What I like -- love -- about the EJ thesis of "Long Consensus" -- is that it is NOT a simplistic one-dimensional political model. It is hugely inclusive of diverse forces, honoring the value in all of them -- and yet, in its brilliant and highly educated way -- parses the differences with explicit precision (he offers a strong clear rejection of much overly simplistic Tea Party thinking). EJ doesn't try to blur us all into any one kind of thing. Instead, he recognizes that the USA is not only highly "diverse" -- ethnically, demographically, politically, ideologically -- but that it has always been this way since our founding -- and that indeed, this "creative tension" -- though it becomes destructive when out of control -- is very powerful when it is held together -- through mutual respect, through listening -- through honoring the bigger picture -- through what he calls "The Long Consensus."

Because he illustrates this idea so well, with such acute explicit detail from American history -- I think he gives us a framework and platform for a powerful new political movement -- not a movement based on pitting the 99% against the 1% -- but a movement that pulls us all together into a common teeming framework seething with constructive creative potential.

And from my point of view, importantly -- this is not a concept that emerges instead of "battling against the corrupting influence of Big Money". Not at all. Just the opposite.

It's precisely because "we the people" remain ideologically fragmented that we remain impotent as a political force. What we have to do is learn how to create a powerful political movement that embraces diversity and sees in our differences the creative power they really imply. This is the key to the new American century and the cultural renaissance we need.

This is why the "power establishment" is motivated to push for "voter suppression". Keep people apathetic, convince them it's hopeless, there's nothing they can do. Keep them at each other's throats in apathy and skepticism and blame -- and they will not vote. The fewer people who vote, the better it is for the status quo. You want the power elite to remain at the reins, just stay home on voting day...

What I want to do -- is to "somehow" scare up or conjure up or manifest the energy it would take to create a systematic project on genuine inclusion -- that more or less follows the exact outlines of the EJ book. I've got a start on this -- which I call the Project on the American Long Consensus -- and my little picture for it is