The need for the Progressives to reclaim the “common good.”

April 26, 2006 § Leave a comment

There is so much now being written on the strategy for the Democrats. Here is a sample

The biggest change is that moderates and liberals have begun to accept the fact that they cannot simply adjust to conservative dominance of the political debate and alter their ideas to fit the current consensus. As Michael Tomasky writes in the current issue of the American Prospect, Democrats and their allies must destroy the current political “paradigm” based on “radical individualism” and replace it with a politics of the “common good.” Only a larger argument rooted in a different conception of government and society, Tomasky argues, will allow the party to “do a lot more than squeak by in this fall’s (or any) elections based on the usual unsatisfying admixture of compromises.”

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Conservative reaction

April 26, 2006 § Leave a comment

We tend to think the Republicans are the conservatives. This is probably wrong.

Both Hart and Carey are disappointed by the younger generation of conservatives who run National Review and other conservative journals for subordinating conservatism to transitory politics. They believe that conservatives should maintain a healthy distance from the Republican Party, because the nature of politics necessarily involves compromise and reliance on leaders of dubious quality and motives. The conservative movement also gets dragged down when bad Republican leaders engineer political defeats for the party, as seems likely this fall.

Bush strategy

April 26, 2006 § Leave a comment

From Slate,

In such moments, politicians have followed a simple formula: Play to the base.

But If I am right that saying no is what the “base” has been doing, it is easy for the “base” to include in its negative judgement the President and the Republicans.

see my article on “saying no

Jane jacobs and cities

April 26, 2006 § Leave a comment

Made cities interesting. Were there weaknesses in her critique?


Jane Jacobs, the writer and thinker who brought penetrating eyes and ingenious insight to the sidewalk ballet of her own Greenwich Village street and came up with a book that challenged and changed the way people view cities, died yesterday in Toronto, where she moved in 1968. She was 89.

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Better world

April 26, 2006 § Leave a comment

NASA, China To Discuss Cooperating On Space Missions…


a more interested and alive president would create as many programs like this as possible: cooperative programs in urban design, energy, cars, planes, education at all leves, sewage, all professional and aristic activities.

American politics and American values -The 80% solutin post #5

April 22, 2006 § Leave a comment

American politics and American values. The 80% solution

Post # 5.. Conservative and Progressive values are not the values of the leadership.

To see the earlier posts in this series go to posts 1-5

My intent is to lay the groundwork for the idea that there is a platform that 80% of the population would easily assent to. It combines the best of progressive and conservative thought in the large territory where, in their modem form, they do not conflict. It basically is an approach that says common sense requires a vibrant economy, but a better distribution of benefits. An economy that is highly entrepreneurial, but where the rewards are less likely to be controlled by the largest business, but work on a smaller scale more regionally or locally. An economy that uses the best of technology in the context of very tough environmental regulations – a combination that drives innovation and new business opportunities. An economy that requires much higher levels of education for everyone, and a social view that brings us into responsible mutuality. The core is  a tone of hopeful social contract in the context of vigorous multinational cooperation in those hopes. The goal is increased quality of life, not a faster racetrack. It means using the fruits of technology and democracy wisely, not just as a means of wealth transfer to those who already hold the cards.


 Last week I described the dynamics of an economy that pull this society apart. "The economy is doing well but the people are doing badly." The current trends cannot hold. The forces of the dynamic economy that produces wealth in one layer  and the increasingly marginalized in another, because it can't produce fairer distribution, are tearing us apart. The Internet based on corporate and military models of communication has created a new commons in free public space more or less world wide probably can't be stopped,  and will continue to tear apart national boundaries, taxability, and corporate privacy. Perhaps governability is at risk. The US- Mexican wall is a sign of exasperated sense of danger.  Did we not learn from Palestine, from the Berlin Wall, from the Maginot Line – and from the great wall of China? We have been led by the use of exaggerated fears, dealt with by impulsive tactics that treat others as enemies,  rather than thought out strategies that regard others as peers to a civilizational dialog.. We have not lived with leaders who had a realistic and hopeful vision of putting technology, people capital and the environment together in a project in which the US could lead by example that could be shared with the world's people. We have been led by series of administrations  that are neither conservative nor progressive.


I'd like to use he world "liberal', but it has floated in so many directions as to become meaningless. If it stated with the idea of political and cultural openness and tolerance, as in John Stuart Mill, it became limited to freedom for property and the right of corporations to be free from state interference. This use of "liberal" moves in the direction not of freedom for all but a new kind of corporatist feudalism, as in  the use of "liberal world order" to describe  a financial regime that puts corporate sovereignty in the center of law and policy.


We have neither a conservative nor a progressive leadership. Part of my proposed 80% solution is based on the idea that progressive and conservative values are rather more similar than we are led to think, and more attractive than in the form we usually hear about them. What we call right and left, conservative and progressive,  and at times liberal, are  deer frozen in the headlights images of "the other" made to help us hold on to our own dwindling sense of hope and legitimacy. We make our vision of "us" and the "other" based on a few fragments lifted from a more vital and full versioned conservative or progressive perspective.


Conservatives believe in a rich texture of society and tradition, where families and forms of governance arise through a constant and slow adaptation of institutions to the reality of managing the human species in the real world. Conservatives like the idea of mixing churches, families, communities, officials, press, banks, and local geography, all in a complex arena of mutual adapting. They see this structure as vulnerable, and needing constant attention. Conservatives are not egoists centered in self, but care about society, knowing that the whole affects the development of the individuals who then care for society.


Conservatives appreciate the histories and achievements of the different nations, and enjoy learning from others, travel, reading history and bringing home what they have learned. Conservatives tend to be modest and not flamboyant. Conservatives prefer solid friendship to opportune relationships, and they are suspicious of motives yet kind to those they find worthy. They are protective of their own and challenging of others. They prefer complexity of character behind selfless love to the blatant psychology of the deal. They tend to see decisions in multigenerational terms more than in multi-factional differences. They see time more than opportunity and tend to accept hierarchy as the price of stability. Their basic tendency is to want to hold on, fearing loss. Conservatives at their best are organic . At their worst attracted to frozen hierarchy and militarism, using technology but hostile to science.


It is clear that we do not have a healthy conservative leadership.


Progressives tend to have a delight in growth and development, in expression and talent, and also have a good ear for the pain and suffering caused by social life and institutions. They tend to love the stranger and be casual towards those at home, feeling that we can learn from others and those around us are good natured and can figure it out for themselves, and good at cooperating for the good of the nested communities from local regional national and international, and see their mutual interdependence. Progressives know that our fate is dependent on institutions and rules. They want openness with some security. They tend to be open to all comers who are willing to aide by limited restraints. Progressives like change and find the past constraining of action. At their best progressives hope more than despair and are good experimentalists naturally aligned with science. At their worst they are self satisfied, mechanical, and shallow.


It is clear that we do not have a healthy progressive leadership.

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Future for the democrats

April 20, 2006 § Leave a comment

Another excellent aticle on the history of the dems and what should be next.

The task before today’s Democratic Party isn’t just to eke out electoral victories; it’s to govern, and to change our course in profound ways. I’d like to think they can do it. But the Democrats must become republicans first.

Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for April, 2006 at Reflections on GardenWorld Politics Douglass Carmichael.