Friday, March 20, 2009

I blogged you so!

This has been getting a bunch of attention:

New Progressive America
Twenty Years of Demographic, Geographic, and Attitudinal Changes Across the Country Herald a New Progressive Majority
"Obama’s 53 percent of the popular vote is the largest share of the popular vote received by any presidential candidate in 20 years. The last candidate to register that level of support was conservative George H.W. Bush, who won by an identical 53 percent-to-46 percent margin. So, separated by 20 years, we have two elections that are practically mirror images of one another, but with conservatives on the winning end of the first and progressives on the winning end of the second.

What happened? How did conservatives do so well in one election but progressives so well in the other? The answer: In those intervening 20 years, a new progressive America has emerged with a new demography, a new geography, and a new agenda."

By way of contrast, I wrote this some time earlier.

Thursday, November 23, 2006
The Populist Libertarian
But the return to Populism this is not seemingly the result of an ongoing political debate among the members of the electorate; this is much more a dawning realization that there has been theft and chicanery at the highest levels. It is a wholesale disgust with corruption over a span of years that leaves neither party - or indeed any person associated with Washington in general - wholly free of taint. Add to this the outrage of the heartlands, who thought that in sending a wave of republican freshmen into congress in `94, they would be changing things for the better.

Instead, they were presented with the results of corruption and indifference to the needs and fates of ordinary folks that passes all understanding.

So a return to populist politics is both inevitable and refreshing - even though it is a fickle wind from a dangerous quarter. That is why I join with my liberal and progressive friends and allies in pointing out that whatever size and shape government is, an ethical and Constitutional government in these Americas (and yes, I mean all of them) is concerned with the well-being and prosperity of The People - as a whole.
I'm not doing this to point out my prescience, or my potential value on the pundit circuit. This isn't to flog my brand; rather, it's to point out that my gut check on the New American Progress article is that they are almost correct. They are seeing this as political phenomenon. I see it, rather, as a function of the medium.

I'm not one to dig into things in depth. I shamelessly rely upon others for that. My niche relies having a familiarity with a wide variety of many things, rather than a deep understanding of a few, because that allows me to realize that certain interpretations - such as the one put forward in "New Progressive America" - suffer from the inadvertent framing of the author. I've read it, it's written as honestly as any position piece of it's sort could ever be expected to be - but it presumes that this shift in viewpoint is a shift toward more progressive values. I did a blog search and found this to be the general consensus, but I already knew of one other outlier, The Dark Wraith, who's reaction to the political quiz put out earlier by Center For American Progress is a wonderful example of High Snort.

How progressive are you? Take the quiz and find out not only how progressive you are, but also how annoyed you get when complex matters of your relationship to society, your sentiments about politics, and your philosophical underpinnings get packaged into a 40-question instrument that reduces you to a series of knee-jerk Right-Left talking points, buzz words, and over-simplifications.

Who knows? By the end you might be so annoyed that, whether or not you get labeled a progressive, you can tell for yourself that you are old, impatient, and downright curmudgeonly.

Just like me.
I should note that I took the quiz and scored as "Highly Progressive," with over 300 points. That doesn't mean I am a "progressive," it means that the term is almost meaningless, if constructed innocently. Personally, I think it's intended to create the impression that there is a direct correspondance between not being an idiot and being a political progressive.

Why not be content with "a high degree of correspondence?"

There are many policy positions that I take a hard line for reasons that diverge significantly from the common herd, and therefore, my position on those issues is not at all predictive of my views in general.

Take the death penalty. I oppose it, utterly, in practice. In theory, IF it could be applied impartially and only in cases where guilt was not merely "beyond a reasonable doubt," but certain to an absolute standard, I'd have no objection. However, that is not the case, and mistakes are far too common, nor do I see any persuasive evidence to suggest that the death penalty causes a deterrant effect. So, since it's both expensive and often corruptible of our political process - I oppose it. 25 to life without possiblity of parole achieves the same thing, at lower expense. Or as I often say, when asked why I oppose it - "I'm not that merciful."

My readings suggest that we should not be thinking of this in terms of traditional politics. I think that sort of framing is as dead as the MSM it has always depended on. I see this as a reaction against biased and inaccurate media, against information managers who's agenda is to tell us what we should think, and have gotten so lazy that they have long ceased to bother to make a respectable case as to why we should vote for any particular party.

The report actually contains the data that points me to that interpetation:

"The Millennial Generation—those born between1978 and 2000—gave Obama a stunning 66 percent-to-32 percent margin in 2008. This generation is adding 4.5 million adults to the voting pool every year. Or consider professionals, who are now the most progressive occupational group and increase that support with every election. Fast-growth segments among women like singles and the college-educated favor progressives over conservatives by large margins. And even as progressives improve their performance among the traditional faithful, the growth of religious diversity—especially rapid increases among the unaffiliated—favors progressives. By the election of 2016, it is likely that the United States will no longer be a majority white Christian nation."
True enough; the question is why. And with two generations now having grown up with rich "pull" media that empowers them to seek out the information and entertainment they enjoy and find useful, rather than the passive acceptance more typical of earlier generations, we may be seeing something that is perhaps not all that obvious to traditional politicians and other marketers.

Did Obama win because he was more popular - or did he become popular because his understanding of reality and the situations we face had a greater correspondence to wired voters than others. I would bet that the latter is a large factor - and it doesn't seem to be a factor that the "movement leaders" seem to be considering, even now.

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