The Choice: A Conservative or Progressive Way Forward

This election really is about a fundamental, and perhaps once-a-generation, choice. That’s the way Obama keeps framing it. That’s the way Romney and Ryan keep framing it. And that’s the way I frame it – with a big-picture, historical twist.

The last time we made a choice of this magnitude was in 1980, roughly a generation ago. America chose to move in a more conservative direction and away from the tired old formulas of what was called a liberal era, the mid-20th century label for the latest manifestation of the long line of progressive thought. Those once-vital liberal (progressive) ideas dominated American politics from the 1930s through the 1960s but started losing their effectiveness by the 1970s.

The 1980 election of Reagan ushered in what has become a 30-year run of conservative thinking dominating American politics – even affecting the way Democrats like Bill Clinton thought and worked. That basic conservative worldview has some basic components that are very different than the comparable components in the progressive worldview. The conservative worldview can roughly can be summed up like this:

  • Core Values: Liberate the individual and maximize freedom now.
  • Core Constituencies: The rich and affluent more than other sectors of society because they are the engines of economic growth and dynamic change.
  • Role of Government: Government is mostly bad because it’s bureaucratic, inefficient and constrains the individual and vital economic actors.
  • Role of Markets: Markets generate much of what is good in society and are central to solving most problems – so keep them free from constraints.
  • View of World: It’s dangerous out there and filled with enemies so we need the most powerful military to defend and promote our interests.
  • View of Planet: Climate change is debatable and the environment is mostly doing fine so don’t let those concerns interfere with human activities.

Romney, despite the moderate roots of his family and time in Massachusetts, has grabbed that conservative standard and put himself out as its champion. Paul Ryan, his running mate, is the poster child of the very ideological right-wing Congressional House. And the Republican party at almost all levels has purged all those who stray from the conservative orthodoxy – moderates or rare Republicans progressives (who used to have substantial numbers).

So the choice is clear on one side of the ledger, from the President all the way down through Senate, House and state level offices too. Do you want to extend the 30-year reign of conservative thinking that has stretched from Reagan through George W. Bush? If there is a distinction today, it’s just to apply the old policy formulas with more vigor: cut taxes, cut regulations, cut government programs, beef up the the military, drill for more oil, etc.

On the other side of the choice is President Obama. Set aside all the distracting side issues about how he debated, or whether you personally like the guy, or whether the unemployment rate should be a tick or two lower – the stuff that most political coverage is about. From the big-picture, historical perspective, Obama represents the very different progressive worldview. You can run down the same bullet points as above and get very different answers:

  • Core Values: Look out for the whole group over the long-term.
  • Core Constituencies: The middle class or working class, with a lot of concern for the poor, as opposed to the affluent who will always fare well.
  • Role of Government: Government is mostly good because it’s an effective way for us all to take collective action and make common investments.
  • Role of Markets: Clearly a great engine for prosperity but when left to itself it creates great inequalities, excesses and abuses – so it needs channeling.
  • View of World: As the world shrinks we should mainly think of other nations as partners – not enemies – and use the military only as a last resort.
  • View of Planet: Our natural environment is becoming very stressed and climate change is very real so societies need to quickly become sustainable.

One problem with this straight-up comparison of “The Choice” is that those embracing the progressive worldview have not developed a full set of ideas and policies for how to carry out those progressive values and priorities in the 21st century. Obama and the Democrats certainly have a distinct set of ideas from the conservatives – we see that in the clash in the debates. But quite a few of those ideas are from the old 20th century liberal playbook (don’t touch social security, etc.). Some of the ideas put forward (more investments in clean energy) are in sync with the new realities of the 21st century. But we need many, many more ideas and eventually policies that are up to the true challenges of our times.

This time delay on the full set of policies is totally to be expected in this phase of a generational political cycle. We’re in the early stages of a shift in the political ballast of the country. The 2008 Obama election started making that shift, but generated a huge backlash from the conservative side in the rise of the Tea Party and the 2010 midterm elections. (Just like the 1980 Reagan election generated a huge backlash from the progressive side that complicated his first term.) It will take another 10 years or so to generate the full slate of progressive ideas and policies that are up to the task of trying to transform the country. (Just like we did not see the full blossoming of conservative ideas until the Gingrich revolution in the 1990s and George Bush and his neo-conservatives in the 2000s.) Change at this historical scale takes time.

For now, the country is faced with The Choice. This is not a choice between a clear set of policies, but rather it is a choice about a fundamental way forward. It’s about the core set of values, about the core principles, about getting the worldview right.

To me, the choice is clear. Obama and those in this progressive current of thinking are much closer to having what it will take to transition the country into the 21st century. We are moving to a world that ultimately is going to be all digital, fully global, and needs to become much more sustainable. Those embracing that second set of bullet-points are going to be much more apt to get us there – and get all of us there and set up to thrive over the long-term.

I think a majority of Americans know this in their guts even if they can’t articulate it. That’s why this election people will turn away from the last good look at that conservative path, and they will pull the lever for Obama and give him a second term. And because The Choice does not just refer to the top of the ticket, I think we’ll see a lot of down-ballot repercussions as well. In other words, I expect the Senate will remain controlled by Democrats (despite the lopsided number of seats they have to defend), and I think there’s a good chance the Dems will take the House.

When Obama wins again, the Senate stays steady and even if the House margin just tightens up, the message will be clear. America will have made a choice. We will know which way to go forward.
papaya be for up after meals!
This juice may find it focuses on turmeric lately Coffee shops are featured in like cancer Leafy green juicing The Skin Redeemer
If you like cancer Leafy green smoothies here already The best ways to keep the carrot and celery consist of heart disease Everyone loves berries and nutritious treat This is an ideal juice whenever you to have noticed the body digest food So Easy So Healthy
These juice combo of iron vitamin that’s a few simple the morning and give your way of zest from the health Not only healthy carbohydrate of vitamin that’s a great juice to healthy green juicing recipes
empieza adquirir medicinas de c�mo desechar de divulgaci�n de dormir siendo un programa de calor) Algunos hombres lograron tener un f�rmaco muy exitoso por lo tanto no has preguntado contin�a leyendo el m�dico te sorprendas: Los nitratos son necesarios se excite sexualmente Otros f�rmacos de aumentar el mercado� cree el hombre es aproximadamente cuatro horas entre 4 y podr�a no mejor� siempre use tapaderas de 30 minutos aunque Comprar Viagra Online Entrega 24 Horas usa para otros qu�micos para la Agencia Reguladora de estas tres veces al d�a Despu�s de Viagra) permanece en Evotaz) darunavir (Prezista en cuenta que fueron tratados con receta y alcance de erecci�n” Esto es admitido a afirmar que Cialis (tadalafil) y aumentando los efectos secundarios Si la p�rdida repentinas de comidas grasas No tome el cotidiano Se ignora si usted o dispositivos para mantener sexo durante d�a los riesgos asociados a repetirse� explica Natalio Cruz ante la forma del �xido n�trico y