[OPE] Political strategies of the American Left

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@tiscali.nl)
Date: Mon Aug 25 2008 - 12:26:10 EDT


I base that opinion on survey data, newspaper reports and personal experience. Admittedly the notion of "progressive" has a somewhat different connotation in American culture, and is somewhat similar to how Europeans understand social democracy ( see e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressivism ). Broadly you could argue that progressive people are interested in social change to ameloriate social conditions and think it is feasible to change society in the interests of human progress, creating more freedom, social equality and social justice for all. This contrasts with conservatism which is basically skeptical about all that or believe we should return to a golden age when things were so much better, and people who are purely in pursuit of their self-interest and basically unconcerned with the state of society. 

I think it is a mistake to simply focus on "public moods" which are sometimes more optimistic and sometimes more pessimistic, and which come and go, I think you have to look at what people actually do and the structure of their beliefs. In addition, if you are interested in progressive social change, there is simply no point at all in hanging out with pessimists and miserabilists who think that's impossible. 

It is true that the position of trade unions has weakened, but as against that, the confrontation with falling real wages, reduced possibility for upward mobility, and worsening working conditions also generates a desire for social change and the search for alternatives. If it is less possible for the system to "buy people off", they are motivated more to think about their circumstances. That is indeed precisely the phenomenon which Mr Obama's theme of "change" seeks to address, and the dispute then centres on what kind of changes he can deliver on or make good. 


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