Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Tragedy of the Community: An Uprising


I remember a few summer ago, sitting at a table eating breakfast with a group of Ph.D's before a day of talks from science policy professionals. I was the only undergraduate student present and largely remained quiet, choosing to listen and learn. In this particular morning I was feeling a little spirited and began a discussion on where and how society needs to move forward. I presented my opinion that some sort of radical movement needs to occur in order to truly mitigate climate change, make the economy more just, and so forth. The looks I received were, at the time, terrifying to me. They were followed by a backlash of how naive I was, in much the same, stuffy, elite tone of voice that should be expected of upper echelon academics.

I'll never forget that moment. Fast forward to what has occurred since then and I wish I could see them all to smile and say, "told ya so."

It seems to me and a growing number of other (well respected) thinkers, that the United States is on the cusp of a new, progressive movement. This movement began at the grassroots level and manifested itself in the netroots. It continued at the local government level as voters looked past the superficial arguments (see previous post) and started voting for progressive candidates in both primary and general elections. More and more candidates and issues oriented groups have continued the discussion on corporate greed, climate change, an unjust economy, and universal health care. A wave of progressive thinkers are beginning to fill the halls of our policy making institutions.

Coupled with an unpopular war, financial meltdown, housing crisis, credit crunch, and increasingly negative natural disasters, many in the U.S. who previously were "unwilling" to act are saying enough. An uprising has been born.

The public trust in both the private and governmental sector are at record lows. Polls show wide agreement on the need for action on a suite of issues that have been unattended to for well over a decade. Jobs are being lost, retirement accounts purged, and debt is skyrocketing, so voters are say enough of the politics as usual - this year is different.

The tragedy of the community - where broad, yet important issues have gone largely untouched due to large swaths of the population being unwilling to act - is gaining attention. Comparable uprisings occurred in much the same manner in 1932 and 1980 - bringing about long lasting changes to both liberal and conservative ideologies, so this isn't a new phenomenon.

As the media solely focuses on the Presidential election, it is important to note that the U.S.'s citizens are speaking...albeit finally. So, while the result of the election is far from certain, there are greater forces at work here. Incumbent politicians aren't safe. Corporate bosses won't be given a free ride. Important issues will no longer be brushed aside for political gamesmanship. Bill McKibben pointed out the need to mobilize the communities to move the country and world forward and it looks like it may be coming soon.

5 comments:

Chris McClure aka Panhandle Poet said...

Be terrified that you might get what you wish for. Socialism has been proven to be a failure, why do you wish for failure?

Progressive said...

Sorry, I believe you are well off base in believing "socialism" will be the result of the uprising.

For that matter, I don't think people understand what socialism or free market society means and say things like your comment out of anger or fear of specific political candidates.

E. R. Dunhill said...

Prog,
I'm not sure I understand the nature or scope of the "uprising" you're describing here. Can you define it a little further? What do you see as the movement's goals?

Progressive said...

ERD - Good question. You have preempted my next post, but I'll give you a summary.

The uprising is populist based.

In total I am speaking of an uprising that actually consists of many smaller movements, all with the common backlash against elite domination of government (e.g. the establishment).

The movement consists of both left and right politics as well. Left against war, economic inequality, environmental degradation, and conservatism. Right against illegal immigration and liberal elites.

The uprising is locally grown and multicultural.

The goal is to reduce power of the establishment and attend to the issues important to the people, but have been ignored by the elite (the definition of populism).

Hope this makes sense.

Pat Jenkins said...

told ya so? how on earth prog has the "envormental movement" made a dent in any form of any lifestyle? the left has had both houses in tow, still nothing trnasforming has happened. you better think again....