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Thread: Grassroots Progressive Politics

  1. #1
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    Grassroots Progressive Politics

    This is the number one thing that pisses me off about progressive politics in America: People get all galvanized about left-field "progressive" candidate to the Presidency as if they could make any fucking difference even if they did get elected.

    What needs to be done is obvious to me, although I have no desire to personally do it. I wonder if every other "progressive" in this country is as lazy as I am or if they're just delusional.

    But anyway, here it is: Build a movement from the ground up and capture local elections. Since hardly anyone votes in local elections to begin with, it seems like it shouldn't be that difficult to drum up enough voter turnout to make a difference.

    This would be a long term strategy of gradual gains, and it has already been proven to work.

    What I can't fathom is why the fucking hell it isn't happening now, and why it hasn't been happening (on the Progressive side - the Tea Party is all over this) for the past several decades.

    Not that I really want to jump into bed with the entirety of the left, but it seems like it should not be so fucking hard to have a nationwide, genuinely left-of-center party that operates and builds its base primarily at the local level.
    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

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    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    Or not even necessarily "progressive" but just center of center. A "no bullshit" party. Anything.
    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

  3. #3
    Zombie Jesus Bloody School Daze's Avatar
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    I mean, the federal government can influence local stuff a lot (see: The EPA), but local-level policies influence a lot of stuff, so I wouldn't exactly be opposed to having some local initiatives drummed up to deal with some things.

    I think the biggest problem of the modern left is this desire they have to induce shared feeling over policy change. Like, all we need to do is keep telling people to hate what we hate and policy will solve itself. Blargh.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Starjots's Avatar
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    Yes, and given an increasing number of people are registered independents I think there's a lot of room for left of center or center.

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    Senior Member Lurker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TeresaJ View Post
    This is the number one thing that pisses me off about progressive politics in America: People get all galvanized about left-field "progressive" candidate to the Presidency as if they could make any fucking difference even if they did get elected.

    What needs to be done is obvious to me, although I have no desire to personally do it. I wonder if every other "progressive" in this country is as lazy as I am or if they're just delusional.

    But anyway, here it is: Build a movement from the ground up and capture local elections. Since hardly anyone votes in local elections to begin with, it seems like it shouldn't be that difficult to drum up enough voter turnout to make a difference.

    This would be a long term strategy of gradual gains, and it has already been proven to work.

    What I can't fathom is why the fucking hell it isn't happening now, and why it hasn't been happening (on the Progressive side - the Tea Party is all over this) for the past several decades.

    Not that I really want to jump into bed with the entirety of the left, but it seems like it should not be so fucking hard to have a nationwide, genuinely left-of-center party that operates and builds its base primarily at the local level.
    I agree with your sentiment, but....what are the damn policy proposals? Where should our priorities be?

    I can be a political moderate democrat easily; I know nothing will change very much, so I don't feel a need to be especially diligent. But, extreme program overhauls must be dissected very, very thoroughly. More to gain, more to lose, etc.

    Progressive political movements, like any other political movement, are package deals. What if I think free college is a bad idea for (many reasons), and I don't care much about marijuana legalization one way or another, but I do believe in cradle-to-grave universal healthcare, single-payer, no private insurance because that creates inequality?

    What if I believe in expanding food assistance, esp. for families, but not taxing sweetened soft drinks because I think that's gov't overreach?

    Even leftist progressive politicians focus on "the middle class," ad infinitum. I think the middle-middle and upper-middle class are fine. The lower-middle who are just a little over the line don't get the help they need. Illogically, if a household makes $100 too much per month, the kids don't qualify for free lunch. That sort of thing.


    A sliding scale would make sense, rather than this either/or nonsense. Nothing magical happens when someone's annual income is $1000 over the poverty line; they just suffer more than most other economic groups.

    I liked Bernie Sanders, but I don't like Leftism just for the hell of it. I want services and assistance funneled low; some middle-class kid coming from a family making $80,000 a year can get Pell Grants and some income adjusted assistance, maybe. That kid doesn't need completely free tuition.

    I also wonder what "free tuition" college would do to the quality of students admitted? An extremely high standard may be employed in order to avoid "wasting government resources." I think it's a great idea to beef up our community colleges; also, every kid shouldn't be expected to attend college. That just cheapens the degree because the lowest common denominator kids must pass, right...esp. if they have well-to-do parents. On the other hand, I'm leery of the whole idea because if the government pays, a lot of kids won't get another chance to prove themselves in college. If high school was a bust, that might just be that. End of story.

    I don't see another way this program could be sustainable, and I also just think it's a waste of funds.


  6. #6
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lurker View Post
    I agree with your sentiment, but....what are the damn policy proposals? Where should our priorities be?

    I can be a political moderate democrat easily; I know nothing will change very much, so I don't feel a need to be especially diligent. But, extreme program overhauls must be dissected very, very thoroughly. More to gain, more to lose, etc.

    Progressive political movements, like any other political movement, are package deals. What if I think free college is a bad idea for (many reasons), and I don't care much about marijuana legalization one way or another, but I do believe in cradle-to-grave universal healthcare, single-payer, no private insurance because that creates inequality?

    What if I believe in expanding food assistance, esp. for families, but not taxing sweetened soft drinks because I think that's gov't overreach?

    Even leftist progressive politicians focus on "the middle class," ad infinitum. I think the middle-middle and upper-middle class are fine. The lower-middle who are just a little over the line don't get the help they need. Illogically, if a household makes $100 too much per month, the kids don't qualify for free lunch. That sort of thing.


    A sliding scale would make sense, rather than this either/or nonsense. Nothing magical happens when someone's annual income is $1000 over the poverty line; they just suffer more than most other economic groups.

    I liked Bernie Sanders, but I don't like Leftism just for the hell of it. I want services and assistance funneled low; some middle-class kid coming from a family making $80,000 a year can get Pell Grants and some income adjusted assistance, maybe. That kid doesn't need completely free tuition.

    I also wonder what "free tuition" college would do to the quality of students admitted? An extremely high standard may be employed in order to avoid "wasting government resources." I think it's a great idea to beef up our community colleges; also, every kid shouldn't be expected to attend college. That just cheapens the degree because the lowest common denominator kids must pass, right...esp. if they have well-to-do parents. On the other hand, I'm leery of the whole idea because if the government pays, a lot of kids won't get another chance to prove themselves in college. If high school was a bust, that might just be that. End of story.

    I don't see another way this program could be sustainable, and I also just think it's a waste of funds.
    This is why I couldn't vote for the green party even as a protest vote. I looked at their platform and I was just like "bullshit."

    Anyone saying that such and such (health care, education, etc) is a "right" automatically makes me start twitching.

    What about a genuinely centrist party in the sense of a platform based on what most people actually agree on/(what I personally think makes sense)? A few simple principles and some moderate welfare state adjustments, not a laundry list of giveaways. I swear it should not be that hard.

  7. #7
    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TeresaJ View Post
    Or not even necessarily "progressive" but just center of center. A "no bullshit" party. Anything.
    My view is we are not talking about things amenable by the surface level of politics. This is a deep and fundamental aspect of civilisation, and frankly many of the so-called 'liberals' of our age have completely misjudged it by treating it as such.

    The more fundamental issues are really precisely though (to my mind) identified after WW2 by Karl Popper.

    Among philosophers, Karl Popper (1902-1994) is best known for his contributions to the philosophy of science and epistemology. Most of his published work addressed philosophical problems in the natural sciences, especially physics; and Popper himself acknowledged that his primary interest was nature and not politics. However, his political thought has arguably had as great an impact as has his philosophy of science. This is certainly the case outside of the academy. Among the educated general public, Popper is best known for his critique of totalitarianism and his defense of freedom, individualism, democracy and an “open society.” His political thought resides squarely within the camp of Enlightenment rationalism and humanism. He was a dogged opponent of totalitarianism, nationalism, fascism, romanticism, collectivism, and other kinds of (in Popper’s view) reactionary and irrational ideas.

    Popper’s rejection of these ideas was anchored in a critique of the philosophical beliefs that, he argued, underpinned them, especially a flawed understanding of the scientific method. This approach is what gives Popper’s political thought its particular philosophical interest and originality—and its controversy, given that he locates the roots of totalitarianism in the ideas of some of the West’s most esteemed philosophers, ancient as well as modern. His defense of a freed and democratic society stems in large measure from his views on the scientific method and how it should be applied to politics, history and social science. Indeed, his most important political texts—The Poverty of Historicism (1944) and The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945)—offer a kind of unified vision of science and politics. As explained below, the people and institutions of the open society that Popper envisioned would be imbued with the same critical spirit that marks natural science, an attitude which Popper called critical rationalism. This openness to analysis and questioning was expected to foster social and political progress as well as to provide a political context that would allow the sciences to flourish.

    ...

    Popper charged that three deep philosophical predispositions underpinned Plato’s defense of the closed society and, indeed, subsequent defenses of the closed society during the next two-and-a-half millennia. These ideas were holism, essentialism, and historicism.

    Holism may be defined as the view that adequate understanding of certain kinds of entities requires understanding them as a whole. This is often held to be true for biological and social systems, for example, an organism, an ecosystem, an economy, or a culture. A corollary that is typically held to follow from this view is that such entities have properties that cannot be reduced to the entities’ constituent parts. For instance, some philosophers argue that human consciousness is an emergent phenomenon whose properties cannot be explained solely by the properties of the physical components (nerve cells, neurotransmitters, and so forth) that comprise the human brain. Similarly, those who advocate a holistic approach to social inquiry argue that social entities cannot be reduced to the properties of the individuals that comprise them. That is, they reject methodological individualism and support methodological holism, as Popper called it.

    Plato’s holism, Popper argued, was reflected in his view that the city—the Greek polis—was prior to and, in a sense, more real than the individuals who resided in it. For Plato “[o]nly a stable whole, the permanent collective, has reality, not the passing individuals” (Open Society Vol. 1, 80). This view in turn implied that the city has real needs that supersede those of individuals and was thus the source of Plato’s ethical collectivism. According to Popper, Plato believed that a just society required individuals to sacrifice their needs to the interests of the state. “Justice for [Plato],” he wrote, “is nothing but health, unity and stability of the collective body” (OSE I, 106). Popper saw this as profoundly dangerous. In fact, he said, the view that some collective social entity—be it, for example, a city, a state, society, a nation, or a race—has needs that are prior and superior to the needs of actual living persons is a central ethical tenet of all totalitarian systems, whether ancient or modern. Nazis, for instance, emphasized the needs of the Aryan race to justify their brutal policies, whereas communists in the Soviet Union spoke of class aims and interests as the motor of history to which the individual must bend. The needs of the race or class superseded the needs of individuals. In contrast, Popper held, members of an open society see the state and other social institutions as human designed, subject to rational scrutiny, and always serving the interests of individuals—and never the other way around. True justice entails equal treatment of individuals rather than Plato’s organistic view, in which justice is identified as a well functioning state.
    That said I think the weakness in this line of thought lies just here:

    Importantly, Popper’s theory of democracy did not rely upon a well-informed and judicious public. It did not even require that the public, though ill-informed, nonetheless exercises a kind of collective wisdom. In fact, Popper explicitly rejected vox populi vox dei as a “classical myth”. “We are democrats,” Popper wrote, “not because the majority is always right, but because democratic traditions are the least evil ones of which we know” (Conjectures and Refutations, 351). Better than any other system, democracies permit the change of government without bloodshed. Nonetheless Popper expressed the hope that public opinion and the institutions that influence it (universities, the press, political parties, cinema, television, and so forth) could become more rational overtime by embracing the scientific tradition of critical discussion—that is, the willingness to submit one’s ideas to public criticism and habit of listening to another person’s point of view.
    Precisely because the capacity for an open-society to continue to exist depends on the acceptance of that under any democratic society that can be just as authoritarian as not although...

    Popper’s theory of democracy also arguably contained conservative elements insofar as it required only a limited role for the average citizen in governing. As we saw above, the primary role of the public in Popper’s democracy is to render a verdict on the success or failure of a government’s policies. For Popper public policy is not to be created through the kind of inclusive public deliberation envisioned by advocates of radical or participatory democracy. Much less is it to be implemented by ordinary citizens. Popper summed up his view by quoting Pericles, the celebrated statesman of Athenian democracy in 5th-century B.C.E.: “’Even if only a few of us are capable of devising a policy or putting it into practice, all of us are capable of judging it’.” Popper added, “Please note that [this view] discounts the notion of rule by the people, and even of popular initiative. Both are replaced with the very different idea of judgement by the people” (Lessons of This Century, 72, Popper’s emphasis). This view in some ways mirrors traditional conservatives’ support for rule by “natural aristocrats,” as Burke called them, in a democratic society. Ideally, elected officials would be drawn from the class of educated gentlemen, who would be best fit to hold positions of leadership owing to their superior character, judgment and experience. However, in Popper’s system, good public policy in a democracy would result not so much from the superior wisdom or character of its leadership but rather from their commitment to the scientific method. As discussed above, this entailed implementing policy changes in a piecemeal fashion and testing them through the process of trial and error. Popper’s open society is technocratic rather than aristocratic.
    This suggests precisely where we have gone wrong by encouraging the irrational masses a sense of democratic legitimacy to positive rather than purely negative power of accountability towards abuses that their irrationality discredits them from.
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

  8. #8
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    Shifting toward "how to reform political systems," I present a couple of articles on misinformation:

    https://www.baekdal.com/analysis/the...e-misinformed/

    To stand out and be distinct, you need to stop and adopt an entirely different editorial strategy.

    First, you need to stop trying to create a package of random news for random people. That's a product for the old world of scarcity, back when the public was uninformed.

    Secondly, you need to stop chasing pageviews and clicks. As a real news company, that's never going to be the winning strategy. Articles about Disney princesses will always beat you with about a million or so views. If you want a ton of views, real news is not the strategy to aim for. But real news is the strategy to aim for if you are monetized in other ways.

    Thirdly, you can't just be a reporter of news. The data clearly shows that newspapers today are losing their relevance exactly because they are 'just reporting'. You have to be the voice of reason, the voice of real insights, the voice of truth with every single article.

    Fourthly, you have to stop using and reporting on people who have proven to be unreliable. We kind of have to cover the politicians because they are our elected representatives (regardless of how much they lie). But you don't have to cover the political associations or pundits.
    http://www.politico.com/magazine/sto...-effect-213904
    (note the click-bait title of the article itself)

    But what is more interesting—and troubling—were the responses of survey takers who claimed they knew “a lot” about the new standards. What these “informed” citizens “knew” trended toward the false rather than the true.
    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

  9. #9
    Member rhinosaur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TeresaJ View Post
    Anyone saying that such and such (health care, education, etc) is a "right" automatically makes me start twitching.
    What do you consider a right?

  10. #10
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhinosaur View Post
    What do you consider a right?
    That which is inalienable and uncontestable. For example, free will.

    The problem with labeling everything as a right is that you create a situation where simply by being born a person is entitled to shelter, food, any number of expensive medical treatments or levels of education and so on. I'm not saying that people should not have those things, but they are not "rights."

    If you have a wealthy society then it certainly makes rational sense to ensure that resources are distributed/earned such that the entire society functions. It makes sense to invest in resources that will benefit your population as a whole, like single payer health care. That still doesn't make those resources a "right."

    Talk about competing interests and resources and investments. Don't talk about rights.

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