Sunday, July 8, 2018

What I'm Thinking About Today

I saw this a few days ago on Twitter and have been thinking about it since. When I decided I wanted to post it, I couldn't find it at first (because Twitter isn't searched by Google), but now I have, so here goes.

These are tweets by Pete Saunders, a Chicago-based, Detroit-raised urban planner who is editor and publisher of The Corner Side Yard (a blog I will now have to check out!).

Here's my big thought of the day (so far). Americans get caught up in the political/economic divides we see. But it might be more instructive to take a more anthropological look at things socially/culturally. Red/Blue, working class/elite, etc. - doesn't get it. If we continue to look at things that way we'll never resolve them. Here's how I see things.

There's Restorationist America. Part middle class/working class, part white evangelical, part Old Manufacturing. Not all rural, or poor, or even Republican. Inward orientation. The phrase #MAGA appeals to them even if today's politics don't. 

There's Globalist America. Highly educated. Managerial/professional. Largely but not exclusively located on coasts. But not all coastal, or urban, or even Democrats. Outward orientation. Still believe in our nation's potential, and their own.

Then there's New America. Majority minority. Latinos, blacks, Asians, Muslims of all backgrounds. All across the economic spectrum. Indeed all across America. Socially/culturally *between* Restorationists and Globalists.

We know/believe the Restorationists are motivated by changes to the nation proposed by some combination of Globalists/New Americans. That's what #MAGA is all about, right?

Here's the problem. That split is entirely unsustainable. Globalists assume New Americans are in their back pocket; not so. Forward-thinking conservatives have no home with today's Restorationists. And in a nation whose political structure was built on majority rule but minority protection, a nation split three or more ways is always in a state of tension.

A new political majority must be crafted along the socio/cultural lines of this nation. I don't think Restorationists are about building a working majority, just defending their interests. This has to be about Globalists and New Americans working out a new political majority built on a message of our nation's potential: one of optimism and progress. That's still a work in, you know, progress.

Case in point: New Americans haven't completely gotten behind Bernie Sanders' message, and there's frustration among many progressive types (a subset of Globalists, IMO) as to why. My guess is that it's due to a lack of direct inclusion and engagement by progressives. "We devised these policies to *help* them; why aren't they behind it?"

80 years ago FDR went the other way and crafted a political majority composed of Globalists and Restorationist-oriented Southerners to kick off the New Deal. There were few New Americans then (blacks, mostly). He had to go that way. FDR negotiated with Solid South politicians for tangible outcomes to maintain his majority. Yeah it was a deal with the devil but it allowed much of his New Deal agenda to move forward.

My fear is that if today's Globalists and New Americans can't come together, the Globalists and Restorationists *will*, as in FDR's day. But it will have potentially worse results. You hear some of this from some politicians who say "we have to listen to the working class" or "we have to reach out to rural America" or some such. There is a fear among Democrats (IMO) for being known as the party of minorities.

Gotta wrap this up. Today's Restorationists have the upper hand because they *feel* this in a way the Globalists don't. New Americans *feel* this too (passion over border family separation issue?) but Globalists are still thinking in political/economic terms.

If a new political majority can't be created out of the Globalists/New American groups, I fear a Restorationist rule by a minority of the nation will last far longer than we even think possible. 
I am not comfortable with the term "New America" including African Americans (let alone Native Americans who are about as far from "new" as you can get)... But I get that Saunders means "new" as in the wave of the demographic future, rather than newly arrived (though many people within New America are somewhat newly arrived). Outsider America may be a more inclusive term, but not as good from a marketing perspective.

There's just a bit of conversation following, where another person replied,
It seems like Obama embodies the globalist/new American alliance you propose. However, the alliance didn’t filter through Congress in a way to allow most policies to be fully implemented. Quite the opposite actually.
And Saunders (who is African-American, by the way) responded
This captures my concern about blacks within a Globalist/New America coalition. In many respects blacks are "Old America" but as you say could never align with Restorationists. And I wonder if a black agenda aligns well with other New Americans.
I don't see a lot of other people responding to his thoughts or discussing this, yet. It's not perfect but it's a good beginning for thinking about coalition-building and keeping the big picture in mind.

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