Imagine America – Moral Politics

“All politics is moral.” George Lakoff

All of the various fields of human inquiry — theology and philosophy and morality and psychology meet rather beautifully in politics. And sometimes I wonder if politics isn’t exactly that, it’s the taking of all the sort of great ineffable and trying to make them have some meaning in the actually historical moment on earth in which we live.” Tony Kushner – writer of “Lincoln” interview with Bill Moyers

We live in an anti-political moment, when many people — young people especially — think politics is a low, nasty, corrupt and usually fruitless business. It’s much nobler to do community service or just avoid all that putrid noise…. you can do more good in politics than in any other sphere…Politics is noble because it involves personal compromise for the public goodpolitics is the best place to develop the highest virtuesWhy We Love Politics By DAVID BROOKS, New York Times, November 22, 2012

The Spiritual Crisis Underlying American Politics By John Amodeo, PsychCentral.com, October 14, 2013

America is NOT a Christian nation

America Is Not a Christian Nation and Never Has Been: Why Is the Right Obsessed With Pushing a Revisionist History?

Conservatives Want America to be a “Christian Nation” –  Here’s What Would That Would Actually Look Like 

Religion wars

Why the Christian Right Believes It Has Once-in-a-Decade Chance to Impose Its Radical Worldview on America

…Wall or no wall, politics and religion have always been inextricably intertwined, and we won’t win until we recognize and deal with that fact…Why Progressives Can’t Ignore Religion By Mike Lux

…The increase in coverage of the religious right’s longterm strategy to transform American culture has led to a number of responses charging “leftists” with fearmongering… Reconstructionists themselves  hold a view of knowledge that says that there are really only two possible worldviews (a biblical one and a humanist one that comes in several varieties) and that both worldview are in a conflict for dominion (so in their view “we” are fighting for it too)…It is not fearmongering, paranoia, or religious bigotry to try to understand their goals and strategies. In fact, it’s irresponsible not to. The Pundits and the Dominionists by Julie Ingersoll

…[Karl] Rove’s real skill lay in finding how to use religion as a political tool…In Head and Heart: A History of Christianity in America By Edd Doerr, UU World, Winter 2008

Why We Must Reclaim The Bible From Fundamentalists

The Spiritual and Political Warfare of the New Religious Right

Right wing religious extremism

…The Republican Party is no longer a political party—it’s a full-fledged religious movement. The political ideology fueling this movement is religious to the core; and while it might be easi­est to label the religious element “Christian,” that designation is too broad and generous for the true complexities at work here…Republicanity is a culture that merges politics and religion…and unashamedly and unreservedly blows apart the longed-for “wall of separation” keeping the two spheres separate. Now more than ever the case can be made that our pol­i­tics are a form of reli­gion and that reli­gion is the new politics. ‘Republicanity’—The GOP Transformation is Nearly Complete By Gary Laderman

… what I’m willing to do, which the mainstream church is not, is to denounce the Christian right as Christian heretics…what they have done is acculturate the worst aspects of American imperialism, capitalism, chauvinism, and violence and bigotry into the Christian religion… I think the great failure of the liberal tradition that I come out of is they were too frightened and too timid to stand up. I don’t know why they spent all the years in seminary if they didn’t realize that when they walked out the door they were going to have to fight for it. And they didn’t fight for it. Chris Hedges on Christian Heretics, Truthdig.com, Nov 2, 2013 -

How the Unholy Alliance Between the Christian Right and Wall Street Is ‘Crucifying America’

American Theocracy — Clear and Present Dangers by Alan Brinkley, March 20, 2006 by the New York Times

Progressive and secular spirituality

… the rise of secular spirituality in this country, a liberated set of values that exists largely outside organized religion… Religion was hijacked for political gain by the right wing beginning as far back as the Nixon era, yet there is a much stronger current of secular spirituality running through our history.….secular spirituality…Nothing about secular spirituality is radical. Most of its principles are articles of belief for millions of average Americans who have largely been shut out of politics for eight years…Nothing less than spiritual renewal is needed across the board… Obama And the Rise of Secular Spirituality by Deepak Chopra and Dave Stewart, Beliefnet.com, January 18, 2009

…Spiritual Left did not, of course, originate with the 60s.…it dates back at least to 1838, when Emerson and other Transcendentalists began their quest for a path “away from the old ‘religions of authority’ into a new ‘religion of the spirit.’”…Rooted deep in the grain of American culture, the Spiritual Left has long acted as the progressive conscience of the nation, championing as it did from its very beginning unpopular causes like abolition and women’s rights…While many in the Spiritual Left are politically active, many others eschew direct participation in the Political Left because it remains locked in a destructive cycle of conflict with the Political Right…Amorphous and anti-authoritarian, the Spiritual Left is perhaps best defined as a borderless association of leaders. Free thinkers and independent seekers of spirituality beyond dogma, its members engage in–and disengage from–political activism as a matter of personal conviction, not ordained groupthink…The Political Left will need to return to the moral high ground of progressive American thought and give voice to the American conscience of compassion if it is to recapture the imagination and heart of its spiritual counterpart. It has to want to change the world for the better, not just get elected… Idealism, Conscience And The Spiritual Left by William Horden, Huffington Post, March 1, 2010

…the history of the progressive movement has shown us, over and over, that there are things that the spiritual community brings to political movements that are essential for success, and can’t easily be replaced with anything else…abandoning the entire landscape of faith to the right wing amounts to political malpractice…To our credit, a lot of our best organizers and activists are starting to realize the magnitude of this mistake. We’re paying a lot more attention these days to learning to clearly articulate progressive values, to express ourselves in explicitly moral language, and to put forward more strongly progressive frames, narratives, and future visions to counter the bankrupt conservative worldview that’s brought us to this sorry place in history… If we’re going to overwrite their [right wing] brutal and anti-democratic story of how the world works, the most important step we can take is to tap into the vast reach and deep moral authority of our remaining progressive faith communities, and amplify their voices every way we can.…there’s very little agreement about the nature of God — but a very strong consensus that the act of radical community-making is the most intensely holy and essential work that they do… Six Reasons We Can’t Change the Future Without Progressive Religion By Sara Robinson, AlterNet | News Analysis, 09 July 2012

Susan Jacoby on Secularism and Free Thinking, Moyers and Company, March 1, 2013

America’s Soul

There is such a thing as a crime against the soul of a nation. A person or a political party can deliberately incite actions that diminish the strength, the integrity, and the over­all well-being of a nation’s inner core. America’s soul is in a fragile state. It has suffered severe violations over the course of this past decade and to lesser degrees, in previous decades…A conscious effort to “dumb down” the education of this nation qualifies as a crime against the soul of America.…I deeply believe the soul of our nation can’t take much more of their strategy of deliberate division against the peo­ple of their own nation. That is a true crime — and perhaps their greatest crime — against the soul of this great nation. Crimes Against the Soul of Amer­ica by Caroline Myss 

...The biblical purpose of government is to protect from evil and to promote the good…That vision of “common good” is what we have lost, and there is nothing more important in our public life than to find it again…To be opposed to government per se, especially when that opposition serves the ultimate power of other wealthy and powerful interests, is simply not a biblical position. Transparency, accountability, and service are the ethics of good government. “Of the people, by the people, and for the people” is still a good measure and goal of civil authority… Why the Government Shutdown Is Unbiblical by Jim Wallis, Sojourners, posted on Huffingtonpost.com, Oct 3, 2013

the moral responsibilities of citizens and politicians in a democratic society… politics should be a high moral calling… A moral and intellectual state cannot be established through a constitution, or through law, or through directives, but only through complex, long-term, and never-ending work involving education and self-educationit might be called spirit. Or feeling. Or conscience… politicians have a moral obligation to call their followers to be true to their best selves rather than pander to or inflame their followers’ worst instincts… Building an intellectual and spiritual state — a state based on ideas — does not mean building an ideological state. Indeed, an ideological state cannot be intellectual or spiritual. A state based on ideas is precisely the opposite: it is meant to extricate human beings from the straitjacket of ideological interpretations, and to rehabilitate them as subjects of individual conscience, of individual thinking backed up by experience, of individual responsibility, and with a love for their neighbors that is anything but abstract… Václav Havel: Democracy as Spiritual Discipline by Peter Montgomery, Religion Dispatches, December 18, 2011

Universal values

…In the United States, where it is almost impossible to get elected unless you profess a strong religious faith… Not one of the hundred US senators ticks the “No Religion/Atheist/Agnostic” box, for example, although 16 percent of the American population do…This is a common belief among those who rule, because they confuse morality with religion…politicians, religious leaders and generals in every country, are effectively saying that my children, and those of all the other millions who have no religion, are morally inferior to those who do. It is insulting and untrue. The False Equation: Religion Equals Morality by Gwynne Dyer, CommonDreams.org, December 19, 2011

It is no longer necessary to invoke the name of God to explain or promote compassionate action. Today we understand we have evolved that capacity… the capacity for empathy, fairness, and altruism is wired into human beingsSimilarly, the laws of civility from the Eightfold Way and the Ten Commandments to the Magna Carta, the Geneva Convention, and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights — are the culturally transmitted legacy of thousands of years of human social evolution overlaid upon older, natural reproductive-selective processes. Whereas laws of civility may once have needed the rhetorical force of God-talk to establish themselves, today they can be embraced rationally in the service of peace and prosperity. Another Word on “God and the Twenty-First Century” by Michael Benedikt

A Values and vision based political dream

Imagine America – an overview of culture/religion/class wars of 2014

Imagine America — crises/opportunities, the world and our human family

Imagine America — culture, economic justice, education, communications, history

Imagine America — democracy, citizen participation, government, politics

Imagine America — worldview: faith and/or reason

Imagine America — moral politics

Imagine America — America’s story, progressive movement, transformation

Quotations for progressives and the progressive movement

Quotations for progressive activists
    • Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering you own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew. Saint Francis de Sales
    • Humanity also needs dreamers, for whom the disinterested development of an enterprise is so captivating that it becomes impossible for them to devote their care to their own material profit. Without doubt, these dreamers do not deserve wealth, because they do not desire it. Even so, a well-organized society should assure to such workers the efficient means of accomplishing their task, in a life freed from material care and freely consecrated to research. Marie Curie
    • I do not think that I will ever reach a stage when I will say, “This is what I believe. Finished.” What I believe is alive … and open to growth.  Madeleine L’Engle
    • The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
    • To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is itself to succumb to the violence of our times. Frenzy destroys our inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful. Thomas Merton
    • You write in order to change the world knowing perfectly well that you probably can’t, but also knowing that [writing] is indispensable to the world. The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter even by a millimeter the way people look at reality, then you can change it. James Baldwin
    • Your playing small won’t serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that the other people won’t feel insecure around you. Nelson Mandela
    • Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. Steve Jobs
    • It takes real spiritual courage to step forward and take responsibility for where we are all going. Andrew Cohen
    • Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on “I am not too sure.” H.L. Mencken
    • Nothing is more powerful than an individual acting out their conscience, thus helping bring the collective conscience to life. Norman Cousins
    • Nothing is so firmly believed as what is least known. Michel de Montaigne
    • If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. Albert Einstein
    • When you place a high value on truth, you have to think for yourself. Dr. Cornel West

Quotations for the progressive movement

A liberal is someone who looks ahead, not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of people – their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties – someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a ‘Liberal,’ I’m proud to say I’m a ‘Liberal.’ John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

All great changes are preceded by chaos. Deprak Chopra

All opinions are not created equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others. Douglas Adams

Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge. Isaac Asimov

As soon as we lose the moral basis, we cease to be religious. There is no such thing as religion over-riding morality. Mohandas K. Gandh

Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Democracy assumes there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people. Harry Emerson Fosdick

Hope has two beautiful daughters-their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are. Augustine of Hippo
I believe in America where the separation of church and state is absolute. John F. Kennedy
I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. Susan B. Anthony

I don’t want to see religious bigotry in any form. It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it. Rev. Billy Graham, 1981

If the predators of democracy are going to use brass knuckles to pulverize us, we have to fight back with sharp elbows. Bob Edgar, former Member of Congress and the head of Common Cause

If you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying you want a country based on Christian values because you don’t. Jimmy Carter

Ignorance is a virus. Once it starts spreading, it can only be cured by reason for the sake of humanity. We must be that cure. Neil DeGrasse Tyson

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. George Orwell

It is the evil in man that makes democracy necessary, and man’s belief in justice that makes democracy possible. Reinhold Neibuhr

Intolerance is the sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility. Alekzandr Solzhenitzn

Let us talk sense to the American people. Let us tell them the truth, that there are no gains without pains. Adlai Stevenson

Love, friendship and respect do not unite people as much as a common hatred for something. Anton Chekhov

Plenty of kind, decent, caring people have no religious beliefs, and they act out of the goodness of their hearts. Conversely, plenty of people who profess to be religious, even those who worship regularly, show no particular interest in the world beyond themselves. John Danforth

Policy is driven by more than politics, however. It is equally driven by ideas. Malcolm Gladwell

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Frederick Douglass

Religion without humanity is poor human stuff. Sojourner Truth

Righteousness exalts a nation. Hate just makes people miserable. Fannie Lou Hamer

Sometimes people call me an idealist. Well, that is the way I know I am an American… America is the only idealistic nation in the world.  Woodrow Wilson

The high-minded man must care more for the truth than for what people think. Aristotle (384-322 BCE)

The ideals that bind us together are as old as our nation, but so are the forces that pull us apart.  Bill Clinton

The most outrageous lies that can be invented will find believers if a person only tells them with all his might. Mark Twain

The people’s government made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people. Daniel Webster

There are things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace, do not devise evil in your hearts against one another. Holy Bible, Zechariah 8:16-17

Those who believe that politics and religion do not mix, understand neither. Albert Einstein

Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. John F. Kennedy

Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred. Vaclav Havel

We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left to combat it. Thomas Jefferson

We divided the world into ‘us’ and ‘them. There is no ‘them’ left on our tiny planet. Marilyn Rea

We have the right to our own opinions, but not our own facts. Daniel Patrick Moynihan

We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. Abraham Lincoln

What the people want is very simple. They want an America as good as its promise. Barbara Jordan

When fascism comes to America, it’ll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross. Sinclair Lewis

When two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly halfway between them. It is possible for one side to be simply wrong. Richard Dawkins

Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past. George Orwell

You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad.  Aldous Huxley

Origin of Phyllis Stenerson’s worldview

by Phyllis Stenerson

A worldview embedded within America’s story

Each of us sees the world through a unique worldview developed over time by our life experiences, consciously or subconsciously. How we think and feel about local and world events impacts our individual lives and our interconnected world.

Each of us has a story. In a democracy, the blending of all our stories creates America’s story. Naturally, tensions are inherent and persistent, the loudest voice gets heard, the most emotional motivates and other clever communications tactics.

Democracy is America’s form of government, an essential component of a civilized society. Our representative democracy reflects and impacts our lives. Politics is the process of influencing government. Some people are intensely focused and gain power so that their positions prevail. Some citizens are scarcely aware of the larger world around them and live with outcomes of other people’s involvement. Most of us fall somewhere on the continuum between these extremes.

My life story and worldview

Since what I say and write is sifted through my own worldview, you have a right to know my basic life story and philosophy so you can process and evaluate my work, assuming you’ve chosen to read it.

Briefly, I was born the day World War II started, grew up first in a farming community and then a rapidly growing suburb of Minneapolis. The role for Scandinavian, Lutheran, working-class women was narrowly proscribed. I stayed with the parameters until I became the first in my family to go to college and further explore alternatives.

After a period of dropping out of college and working at resorts jobs in upstate New York and Idaho, I got married, moved to Colorado, then California, and back to Minnesota, had two sons, bought a nice house in a nice part of the city and was a “stay-at-home” mom while my boys were little. I got involved in their school plus community activities and politics, worked part-time, got my college degree, got divorced, worked full time to support myself and so on.

Other major influences on my worldview included becoming a Unitarian-Universalist, and having a mentor who was a pioneer in the studies of creative and higher level thinking, all the while growing older amid unprecedented political and cultural upheaval. I worked for two Members of Congress, one first as a fundraiser and then as a District Office staffer, the other as a big bucks fundraiser. In the first case the year was 1978. We started the fundraising project by sorting through 3 x 5 cards with donor information from other campaigns, then discovered the newly emerging PACs (political action committees). So, I’ve been part of the problem as well as part of the solution.

The best thing in my life now is having two sons grow into successful husbands and fathers, smart daughters-in-law and three perfect grandchildren.

My life and work in these times

When the Bush administration launched a pre-emptive war with Iraq in 2003, I was flabbergasted, angry and needed to find out how this could happen. I’ve dug deeply and persistently into a broad range of media and learned a lot, thereby discovering how little I actually knew about American history, culture and current affairs. Things are not always as they seem.

“Culture wars” became part of the American vernacular. I labeled this as media hype and brushed it aside. However, as I worked through the tangle that is our country’s social fabric, I came to realize that culture wars are real and at the core of the deep divisions quite literally threatening our democracy and the promise of America.

A major insight came in learning how significantly a person’s worldview impacts their attitude toward politics, and how this worldview is influenced by life experiences, especially family, religion, education and community connections. People have lived in tribes or clans since the beginning of civilization. We still do. A major differentiating factor is the extent to which we stay within our clan of origin or branch out to discover, or create, a different reality.

I became fascinated, some might say obsessed, with this endlessly complex phenomena and began collecting information. At the start of this journey in 2005 information relating to the cultural and religious dynamics influencing politics was rare. Over the past nine years knowledge and analysis generated by experts, public intellectuals and ordinary people has expanded exponentially thanks in large part to the internet, independent journalism and dramatically heightened awareness, at least among a subset of the electorate.

Over time as the data base expanded, a framework was developed to make the ever-increasing volume manageable. I want to share this information with the public as a contribution to citizen education, a vastly under appreciated and under-utilized cornerstone of democracy. I believe a broader, deeper understanding among the electorate of the concept of worldview and the “culture wars” is essential to renewing democracy, and quite literally, saving the world for future generations.

Multiple crises are real and must be faced straight on. As citizens of the world’s first and greatest democracy, we have a sacred responsibility to do our best to help create a better future for all.

Multiple opportunities are ready to be seized by an activated citizenry to collaboratively create innovative, intelligent and moral ways to transform America.

Posted Feb 8, 2014 -latest revision – Feb 10, 2014

Imagine America – America’s story, progressive movement, transformation

America’s Story

Real events do happen in the real world, but people can’t help trying to fit them into larger stories.  We love to connect the dots.  Storytelling isn’t some atavistic remnant of our pre-scientific past; it’s how our brains are hardwired…What will win the day isn’t the power of facts, but the power of one story or another to feel right – yes, an emotion; we will retroactively find the facts we need to make our path to that feeling seem rational. The public sphere is where competing storylines slug their way out, it’s where politicians, journalists, experts and yakkers connect the dots, find patterns and fashion narratives …When no one knows what comes next, the political advantage goes to the most powerful narrators… the lessons of history are more art than science, and the art is the skill of the storyteller. It’s Important to Know How the Stories We Tell Ourselves — True, or Not– Shape our World… for Better or Worse By Marty Kaplan, AlterNet, November 26, 2013

How the Media and the Elites, Not the Voters, Move the Country to the Right

The Constitution is inherently progressive 

Why Are Americans So Easy to Manipulate and Control?

Right wing message machine

.…Part of the answer to the enduring quality of such a destructive politics can be found in the lethal combination of money, power and education that the right wing has had a stranglehold on since the early 1970’s and how it has used its influence to develop an institutional infrastructure and ideological apparatus to produce its own intellectuals, disseminate ideas, and eventually control most of the com­manding heights and institutions in which knowledge is produced, circulated and legitimated… one starting point for understand­ing this problem is what has been called the Powell Memo, released on August 23, 1971…The Powell Memo and the Teaching Machines of Right-Wing Extremists by Henry A. Giroux

Five Preposterous, Persistent Conservative Myths by Paul Buchheit, Common Dreams, April 2, 2012

How Ayn Rand’s Bizarre Philosophy Made the New Right so Toxic By George Monbiot, The Guardian, posted on Alternet.org, March 7, 2012

The Fascinating Story of How Shameless Right-Wing Lies Came to Rule Our Politics

Message wars

…the Right fights harder for its fantasyland than the rest of America does for the real world…. rank-and-file right-wingers were manipulated by an endless series of false narratives. The Republican political pros manipulated the racial resentments of neo-Confederates, the religious zeal of fundamentalist Christians, and the free-market hero worship of Ayn Rand acolytesThat these techniques succeeded in a political system that guaranteed freedom of speech and the press was not only a testament to the skills of Republican operatives like Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. It was an indictment of America’s timid Center and the nation’s ineffectual LeftYet, if rational and pragmatic solutions are ever going to be applied to these problems…The country is going to need its conscious inhabitants of the real world to stand up with at least the same determination as the deluded denizens of the made-up world.Of course, this fight will be nasty and unpleasant. It will require resources, patience and toughness. But there is no other answer. Reality must be recovered and protected – if the planet and the children are to be saved. America’s War for Reality by Robert Parry

Even Right-Wingers Become Liberals When They Turn Off Fox News

Progressive movement

The reemergence of a Democratic left will be one of the major stories of 2014. Moderates, don’t be alarmed. The return of a viable, vocal left will actually be good news for the political center. For a long time, the American conversation has been terribly distorted because an active, uncompromising political right has not had to face a comparably influential left. As a result, our entire debate has been dragged in a conservative direction, meaning that the center has been pulled that way, too…the new militancy on the Democratic left is a consequence of a slowly building backlash against the skewed nature of our politics… When politicians can ignore the questions posed by the left and are pushed to focus almost exclusively on the right’s concerns about “big government” and its unquestioning faith in deregulated markets, the result is immoderate and ultimately impractical policy. To create a real center, you need a real left. The resurgent progressives By E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post, January 1, 2014

Collective imagination emerges when people find strength in collective organizations, when they find strength in each other. Justice is never done. It’s an endless struggle. And there’s joy in that struggle, because there’s a sense of solidarity that brings us together around the most basic, most elemental and the most important of democratic values. Henry Giroux Being interview by Bill Moyers, Moyers & Company, November 22, 2013

…if we take seriously the basic moral principles at the core of modern philosophical and theological systems we claim to believe in, in light of the data on social injustice and the serious threats to ecological sustainability, these questions should be central in the work of intellectuals…intellectuals…help us deepen our understanding of how the world works, toward the goal of shaping a world more consistent with our moral and political principles, and our collective self-interest. What are the forces that keep people, especially relatively privileged people, mute in the face of such a clear need for critical intellectual work? …I suspect that a desire to be accepted by peers is at least as powerful a motivation for intellectuals to accept the status quo. Humans are social animals who generally seek a safe and secure place in a social group, and there’s no reason intellectuals would be different.…confronting the reality of injustice and unsustainability can be morally and psychologically overwhelming for anyone…Intellectuals are in the business of assessing problems and offering solutions…to be a responsible intellectual is to be willing to get apocalyptic, and the first step in that process is to give up on the myth of neutrality. Intellectuals shouldn’t claim to be neutral, and the public shouldn’t take such claims seriously. American Intellectuals’ Widespread Failure to Stand Up to Billionaires and Authoritarian Power By Robert Jensen, AlterNet, July 5, 2013 

…Reality does shift, not merely on its own but as a result of determined minorities who learn how to use the lever of social action…Now is the time to choose our future… This means thinking big: embracing a vision so enormous it overflows our sense of the possible…The lever, [Judith Hand] says, is “people power”: the strategy and tactics of nonviolent action of all sorts. The fulcrum is any weak spot in the existing power structure, any shameful but unchallenged absurdity of power (e.g., segregated lunch counters, the British salt tax). The weight put on the lever to dislodge the fulcrum could, perhaps, be called applied moral authority… The Lever of Social Action by Robert C. Koehler

Can National Grassroots Push Depose the ‘Billion Dollar Democracy’? 

Chris Hayes: Bring on the upper-middle-class revolution!

Popular Resistance Is Percolating Across the Country — Inspiring Activism That the Corporate Media Always Ignores

We Can’t Give in to the Culture of Fear and Apathy — Channel Your Discontent into Positive Action

Transformation

“What is missing I think from the equation in our struggle today is that we must unleash radical thought. … America has never been moved to perfect our desire for greater democracy without radical thinking and radical voices being at the helm of any such a quest.” Harry Belafonte

…the role of art is transcendence. It’s about dealing with what we call the nonrational forces in human life, those forces that are absolutely essential to being whole as a human being but are not quantifiable… We are fighting for life and we are going to need those transcendent disciplines that remind us of who we are, why we’re struggling, and what life finally is about. Chris Hedges on the Role of Art in Rebellion, Truthdig.com, Nov 27, 2013

The Big Theories Underwriting Society Are Crashing All Around Us — Are You Ready for a New World?

 

Imagine America – worldview: faith and/or reason

Worldview

 …A person’s way of thinking and being is influenced by their worldview – the unique combination of attitudes, perceptions, and assumptions that inform how they personally understand and make sense of their place in the worldToward a “Common Spirituality”: Scaffolding for Evolving Consciousness by Richard Harmer

…your moral beliefs make all the difference. Fifty years ago…There was so much diversity within each party…that stereotyping was harder, and cross-party alliances were much easier. But since the 1980s, the two parties have become ever more perfectly sorted…Nowadays you can make predictions about people’s values and votes from just a few seemingly unrelated things….Unfortunately, as the parties developed more divergent values and lifestyles, they also developed divergent facts. Republicans and Democrats believe different things—about history, the Constitution, science, and above all economics….Your Personality Makes Your Politics By Jonathan Haidt @JonHaidt, Jan. 09, 2014

How Unconscious Thought and Perception Affect Our Every Waking Moment By John A. Bargh, scientificamerican.com

Worldview – progressive

…Conscience is at the heart of progressivism…Conscience is the way our moral sense and our moral for­mation come together to inform our actions in the world…in the progressive view, conscience is not only inward and individual but is also directed toward creating a more just and equitable society The Progressive Conscience in Action by Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Center for American Progress, April 6, 2009

people are longing for a vision of the common good that includes everyone…a vision drawn from the heart of our religious traditions that allows us to make our faith public but not narrowly partisan. That requires a political engagement that emphasizes issues and people above personalities and partisanship…The prerequisite for solving the deepest problems this country and the world now face is a commitment to a very ancient idea whose time has urgently come: the common good.… The Prerequisite of the Common Good by Jim Wallis

…We have to think deeper, to think as a human family… Empathy is the invisible social glue that allows a complex individuated society to remain integratedThe Empathic Civilization by Jeremy Rifkin

Whichever religious tradition I study, I find at the heart of it is the idea of feeling with the other, experiencing with the other, compassion. And every single one of the major world religions has developed its own version of the Golden Rule. Don’t do to others what you would not like them to do to you…. The Power of Compassion – Karen Armstrong

All politics is moral… But progressives and radical conservatives have very different ideas of right and wrong. The basic idea is this: Democracy is based on empathy, that is, on citizens caring about each other and acting on that care, taking responsibility not just for themselves but for their families, communities, and their nation. The role of government is to carry out this principle in two ways: protection and empowerment.  Obama Returns to His Moral Vision: Democrats Read Carefully! by George Lakoff

 Worldview – conservative

…The highest value in the conservative moral system…is the perpetuation and strengthening of the conservative moral system itself…Obama, Tea Parties, and the Battle for Our Brains by George Lakoff, Cognitive Policy Works, February 23,

….Their movement has been overtaken by a quite literally mindless opposition to government… This is a long way from the conservatism I used to respect….where’s the outrage about a conservatism that is losing both its intellectual moorings and its moral compass? The real conservative scandal By E.J. Dionne Jr

How the Conservative Worldview Quashes Critical Thinking — and What That Means For Our Kids’ Future By Sara Robinson, AlterNet, May 18, 2012

Religion, spirituality, values

Understanding America’s religious landscape is the most important challenge facing us today…A New Religious America — How a “Christian Country” Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation by Diana L. Eck

Pope Francis [has] been particularly critical of right-wing Christian fundamentalism. Pope Francis has shifted the focus of the Catholic Church to issues facing the poor and the sick. He has railed against economic inequality and has criticized the anti-gay and anti-abortion strains that have come to dominate the Christian Right here in America. Such ideological extremism is dangerous, not only to Christianity, but to the world. And Pope Francis said as much last Thursday. Pope Francis called right-wing Christian fundamentalism a sickness. Stephen D. Foster Jr. October 21, 2013

Holy Book Learning — Americans are shockingly illiterate when it comes to religions

reason, critical thinking

We are witnessing an epochal shift in our socio-political world.  We are de-evolving…The Social Contract is the intellectual basis of all modern democratic republics, including oursA system which – for all its flaws – often managed to protect the rights of the many, against the predatory power of the few… Republicans and Tea Partiers may be leading this retreat from reason, but they are unopposed by Democrats or the Press. And in the end, there is a special place in Hell for those who allow evil to prosper by doing nothing. Dark Ages Redux: American Politics and the End of the Enlightenment by John Atcheson, Common Dreams, June 18, 2012

Why We Need New Ways of Thinking

Wisdom: The Forgotten Dimension? 

Critical thinking or ignorance

...about 37 percent of Americans are just are not very bright…reading anything even remotely complex or analytical is something only 42 percent of the population enjoy doing on a regular basis, which is why most TV shows, all reality shows, many major media blogs and all of Fox News is scripted for a 5th-grade education/attention span…The smarter you are, the less rigid/more liberal you become…37 Percent of People Don’t Have a Clue About What’s Going on By Mark Morford

…the habit of asking critical questions can be taught. However, if you do not have a knowledge base from which to consider a situation, it is hard to think critically about it … loyalty comes from myth-making and emotional bonds. In both cases, really effective critical thinking might well be incompatible with the desired end…The truth is that people who are consistently active as critical thinkers are not going to be popular, either with the government or their neighbors. The Decline of Critical Thinking, The Problem of Ignorance by Lawrence Davidson

Anti-intellectualism

…There are some very clever people in government, advising politicians, running think tanks and writing for newspapers, who have acquired power and influence by promoting rightwing ideologiesthey now appeal to the basest, stupidest impulsesThe conceptual stupidities of conservatism are matched by the strategic stupidities of liberalism. Yes, conservatism thrives on low intelligence and poor information. But the liberals in politics on both sides of the Atlantic continue to back off, yielding to the supremacy of the stupidThe Right’s Stupidity Spreads, Enabled by a Too-Polite Left by George Monbiot, The Guardian/UK, February 7, 2012

The Willful Ignorance That Has Dragged the US to the Brink 

Truth and lies

A basic intent to be truthful, along with an assumption that people can be generally taken at their word, is required for all sustained civilized dealings…No civilization can tolerate a fixed expectation of dishonest communications without falling apart from a breakdown in mutual trust.… Our serious problem today is not simply that many people routinely tell lies…The problem now is that we seem to be reaching a dysfunctional tipping point in which an essential commitment to truthfulness no longer seems to be assumed in our society. If this is indeed the case, the danger is that the bonds of trust important in any society, and essential for a free and democratic one, will dissolve so that the kinds of discourse required to self-govern will become impossible. …As the Founders of our republic warned, the failure to cultivate virtue in citizens can be a lethal threat to any democracy. The Death of Honesty by William Damon

What Would Machiavelli Do? The Big Lie Lives On by Thom Hartmann CommonDreams.org, August 26, 2004

Shameless GOP Lies: Is There Any Limit to What Republicans Will Say — And What People Will Believe? 

US Running on Myths, Lies, Deceptions and Distractions by John Atcheson

Will Republican Voters Believe Anything? The Right’s Hyperbolic, Dysfunctional World 

Imagine America – democracy, citizen participation, government, politics

Democracy

Democracy: government by the people; the common people of a community, as distinguished from any privileged class …81 percent of us–four out of five–would cut the deficit by taxing the rich and/or slashing military spending…What’s wrong with this picture? On every key issue of public concern the government in this supposed democracy has gone against the wishes of the majority of the public. Clearly, whatever it is, this is no democracy we are living in today… A Profound and Jarring Disconnect by Dave Lindorff,

Politicians might usefully disentangle themselves from their day-to-day power struggles long enough to take seriously their responsibility to a noble idea and the systems that undergird it[there are] two streams of discontent the world’s democracies face. One is material. The other might be called spiritual… politicians might contemplate their obligations to stewardship of the democratic ideal… Political dysfunction spells trouble for democracies By E.J. Dionne Jr.

Our life chances are now determined to an unprecedented degree by the wealth of our parents….But for more than three decades we’ve been going backwards…The major reason is widening inequality…Taxes have been cut on the rich, public schools have deteriorated, higher education has become unaffordable for many, safety nets have been shredded…20 million American children in poverty (we now have the highest rate of child poverty of all developed nations other than Romania)How can the economy be back on track when 95 percent of the economic gains since the recovery began in 2009 have gone to the richest 1 percent? The underlying issue is a moral one: What do we owe one another as members of the same society? Conservatives answer that question by saying it’s a matter of personal choice – of charitable works, philanthropy, and individual acts of kindness joined in “a thousand points of light.” But that leaves out what we could and should seek to accomplish together as a society. It neglects the organization of our economy, and its social consequences. It minimizes the potential role of democracy in determining the rules of the game, as well as the corruption of democracy by big money. It overlooks our strivings for social justice. In short, it ducks the meaning of a decent society. The Meaning of Decent Society by Robert Reich, RobertReich.org December 20, 2013

 

Threats to democracy

Sedition: Crime of creating a revolt, disturbance, or violence against lawful civil authority with the intent to cause its overthrow or destruction…Advocating, encouraging, and sanc­tioning sedition is the new norm on the conservative side…a wake-up call for progressives…it’s time to openly con­front the fact that conservatives have spent the past 40 years systematically delegitimizing the very idea of US government. When they’re in power, they mismanage it and defund it. When they’re out of power, they refuse to participate in running the country at all — indeed, they throw all their energy into thwarting the democratic process any way they can. When they need to win an election, they use violent, polarizing, eliminationist language against their opponents to motivate their base. This is sedition in slow motion, a gradual corrosive under­mining of the government’s authority and capability to run the country. And it’s been at the core of their politics going all the way back to Goldwater…puts the short-term needs of the Republi­can party ahead of the long-term viability of the American democracy they’ve sworn to uphold… Guilty of Sedition? How the Right Is Undermining Our Government’s Authority and Capability to Run the Country by Sara Robinson

…It is an affront to our democracy that you need a specific identification to vote for a candidate, but not to finance one. Why is it so easy to buy a government, but becoming so hard to vote for one? Voter suppression laws, overzealous filibuster use, you name it — the Republicans use every tactic they can to stop our democracy from actually selecting the person with the most support. Why do they do this? It seems obvious: when you don’t have winning ideas, you change the rules of the game. When you can’t convince voters that you are the best choice, you restrict their ability to choose. Voter Suppression Is Treasonous by Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm

10 Ways Our Democracy Is Crumbling Around Us 

On the Sabotage of Democracy by Bill Moyers

How the Wealthy Wage War on Democracy Itself

Citizenship

“We have an opening in this crisis for a deep transformation in American politics…But it requires people — this is the hard part — to get out of their sort of passive resignation…and engage among themselves in a much more serious role as citizens…to force the changing values of the system.” William Grieder being interviewed by Bill Moyers, July 24, 2008

“It must be laid down as a primary position and the basis of our system, that every citizen who enjoys the protection of a free government owes not only a proportion of his property, but even his personal service to the defense of it.”   George Washington

… the public school system should prepare citizens for democracy…why our public school system was founded in the first place. …History is the study of that which has happened. Civics prepares each and every one of us to make our own history, by giving us the skills to navigate our democracy…we are failing to educate our children about their critical role as citizens…Our young people’s civic ignorance is a long-term threat…Three R’s and a Why by Andrea Batista Schlesinger

Speaking Out Is at the Heart of Being a Citizen

Government

 The Repub­li­cans have changed Amer­i­can pol­i­tics…the Repub­li­can Party may no longer be a nor­mal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a fac­tion that is more of a psy­cho­log­i­cal protest than a prac­ti­cal, gov­ern­ing alter­na­tive…The mem­bers of this move­ment do not accept the logic of com­pro­mise, no mat­ter how sweet the terms. The mem­bers of this move­ment do not accept the legit­i­macy of schol­ars and intel­lec­tual author­i­ties…The mem­bers of this move­ment have no sense of moral decency…if respon­si­ble Repub­li­cans don’t take con­trol, inde­pen­dents will con­clude that Repub­li­can fanati­cism caused this default. They will con­clude that Repub­li­cans are not fit to gov­ern.  And they will be right.   The Mother of All No-Brainers by David Brooks

Think of it as a two-part strategy. First, obstruct any and all efforts to strengthen the economy, then exploit the economy’s weakness for political gain. If this strategy sounds cynical, that’s because it is…  this obstructionism is real, and arguably is the biggest single reason for our ongo­ing economic weakness. And what happens if the strategy of obstruct-and-exploit succeeds? Is this the shape of politics to come? If so, America will have gone a long way toward becoming an ungovernable banana republic. Obstruct and Exploit by Paul Krugman, New York Times, September 9, 2012

Our political problem, in a nutshell: The party of government is afraid to defend government. Nothing will really change until that changes.  The Greatest Story Never Told by Michael Tomasky

…Any society that allows the market to constitute the axis and framing mechanisms for all social interactions has not just lost its sense of morality and responsibility; it is given up its claim on any vestige of a democratic future. Market fundamentalism along with its structure of extreme inequality and machinery of cruelty has proven to be a death sentence on democracy. The time has come…to rethink what a real democracy might look like and to consider what it will take to actually organize collectively to make it happen. Trickle-Down Cruelty and the Politics of Austerity by Henry A. Giroux

…the fundamental debate we should be having is not the size of government but what the goal of government should be…for both policy and political reasons, the Democrats need to firmly pick the side of middle class and low income Americans, and not worry so much about preserving and protecting the establishment. The Mission of Government by Mike Lux

Washington Has Been Stopped in Its Tracks by Republican Tea Party Types, and It’s Destroying the Country

Why America Can’t Pass Gun Control

Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein

Millionaires Are Now the Majority in Congress: The 1% Literally Rule Us

Government – moral authority

.…Whether government is serving its biblical purpose of protecting from evil and promoting good, is more important than ideological debates about its size. How can we move from an ethic of endless growth to an ethic of sustainability, from short-term profits to longer term human flourishing, from the use and consumption of the earth to stewardship and creation care? Protect­ing “life” can no longer be restricted to a few issues, but must be consistently applied to wherever human life and dignity are threatened… The prerequisite for solving the deepest prob­lems this country and the world now face is a commitment to a very ancient idea whose time has urgently come: the common good.… The Prerequisite of the Common Good by Jim Wallis

…Our current discussion of what constitutes “freedom” is shaped far too much by a deeply flawed right-wing notion that every action by government is a threat to personal liberty and that the one and only priority of those who care about keeping people free is for government to do less than it does. This perspective ignores the many ways over the course of our history in which government has expanded the autonomy of our citizens. Consider how much less freedom so many of us would have without civil rights or voting rights laws, without government student loans, without labor laws, without public schools and without Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. (And we don’t take seriously enough the implications of a most basic fact of our national story: that it took big government in Washington to outlaw slavery.)…we need to think more about “positive liberty,” the ability to realize certain goals in our lives. Democratic government can create the framework in which we have more power to reach those ends… Family values hypocrisy By E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post, December 15, 2014

Anti-government

Teaching the middle class to hate their government was an essential part of the [conservative] plan… A middle class cannot exist without a strong government. This is because only a government has the power to stand up to the giant corporations of today’s world …Thirty years ago at the onset of the Reagan Revolution, the middle class basically appreciated and respected their government…the basic message of Reagan and the conservatives was that everyone would be better off if the federal government just disappeared. They were smart enough not to say this directly, however. Instead, they just landed one body blow after another without openly expressing their desire to destroy the government…. Teaching People to Hate Their Own Govt. Is at the Core of the Project to Destroy the Middle Class By Dennis Marker

Government and corporations

They want to control and privatize government resources…That’s the system they are steadily building — prisons, schools, public parks, there’s a conversion of the whole system into an investment of capital which is a major extension of what’s always been true. … The Big Picture: A 40-Year Scan of the Right-Wing Corporate Takeover of America 

The Biggest Engine of Economic Growth? 8 Ways Taxpayers and the Government Are Necessary to Capitalism 

Privatization

Five Ways privatization degrades America

The Campaign to Privatize the World 

Military-industrial complex

War Profiteers Make Millions At the Expense of the Public

Corporations Profit From Permanent War 

Politics, Power and Money

A fundamental war has been waged in this nation since its founding, between progressive forces pushing us forward and regressive forces pulling us backward. We are going to battle once again. Progressives believe in openness, equal opportunity, and tolerance. Progressives assume we’re all in it together…Regressives take the opposite positions…today’s Republican right aren’t really conservatives. Their goal isn’t to conserve what we have. It’s to take us backwards…Yet the great arc of American history reveals an unmistakable pattern. Whenever privilege and power conspire to pull us backward, the nation eventually rallies and moves forward…. The Rise of the Regressive Right and the Reawakening of America by Robert Reich

Republicans/conservatives

A civil war is brewing in the GOP – between the realists who have to get elected and the ultras in the conservative media…the fascinating element of this sure-to-be-brutal conflict lies not in the opposing arguments, but in the make-up of each side. For long years, buoyed by Fox News and a legion of talk radio shockjocks, the conservative media and its allies in radical think tanks have been an integral part of the Republican party…No one elects them. They are pundits and firebrands whose very existence relies on stirring up the base. That is where they get readers, listeners and donors. These people do not fear election losses. They thrive on them. Opposition suits their purpose… it is a fight between politicians and pundits. It is policy versus talking points, voters versus ratings. Pundits and politicians contend for the soul of the Republican party by Paul Harris, Guardian/UK, November 12, 2012 -

Look who’s covertly controlling the GOPKarl Rove, Scheming Election Theft and Raising a Fortune for Vicious Attack Ads, Democracy Now! By Amy Goodman, Craig Unger posted on Alternet.org, August 22, 2012 -

The Sick Social Darwinism Driving Modern Republicans

What Happened to the Traditionally Conservative Republican Party?

Power

…Power…is best understood in terms of command and control. It is either the capacity to make others do as you wish (the command function) or to reorder the environment around you (the control function)… It is arguable, though, that technology has given us a more democratic culture (if not politics) than the world has seen since perhaps the founding… the Internet has…lowered barriers to information and has given virtually anyone with something to say the means to say it. The Web is not only a source but a stage on which we can engage in the life of the nation and of the world armed with facts we have weighed in the light of reason. “Knowledge is now once again connected to power,” says [Al] Gore. The Story of Power by John Meacham, Newsweek, December 19, 2008

…slogans and proposals and will mean nothing without the requi­site power standing behind them…We need politicians more afraid of voter outrage than they are of corporate retribution…it’s in the interest of some of the most powerful players on earth to prolong the status quo… [changes] go against the power of the status quo…We’ll never get the solutions we need—the solutions everyone has known about for two decades—unless we build the move­ment first. It’s Time to Fight the Sta­tus Quo by Bill McKibben

Eighty-Six Percent of Americans Think the Government Should Fight Poverty by Zoë Carpenter, The Nation, January 8, 2014

How a Shadowy Network of Corporate Front Groups Distorts the Marketplace of Ideas

Polarization and Gridlock Work Well for the Wealthiest Americans

 

Money in politics

financiers who presided over the market collapse… could have and should have seen it coming.…the financial crisis was not an accident and they were not powerless. The crisis was the result of irresponsibility and misjudgments by many people…Congress’s efforts at financial reform appear to be weakened daily by politicians who are more concerned with campaign donations than regulating the financial system. Who’s Not Sorry Now? Editorial, New York Times, April 11, 2010 

“You and I don’t have a lobbyist and so we are not represented in this melee. There is no balance here. There’s a drastic imbalance between the people who created the problem and the people who had to pay the problem and it has not been addressed.”  Gretchen Morgenson, How Big Money Bought Our Democ­racy, Cor­rupted Both Par­ties, and Set Us Up for Another Finan­cial Cri­sis

The power of money trumps the power of democracy today…Democracy Should Be a Brake on Unbridled Greed and PowerBill Moyers

Koch-backed political coalition, designed to shield donors, raised $400 million in 2012

Billionaire Koch Brothers Spending Millions To Deny Health Coverage To Low-Income Americans 

Imagine America – culture, economic justice, education, communications, history

America

being happy is nearly impossible if someone is unemployed…now, 10.9 million Americans don’t have a job…There’s no way we can be a happy nation again without getting those jobs back, and making sure that all Americans have an equal shot at a good job. It’s time to close the book on Reaganomics, toss austerity aside… Only then will Americans really have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” When Happiness Died in America…  By The Daily Take, The Thom Hartmann Program, December16,  2013

The nation’s population will look dramatically different by mid-century, becoming more racially and ethnically diverse and a good deal older as it increases from about 302 million to 439 million by 2050, according to projections released today by the U.S. Census Bureau…Minorities, about one-third of the U.S. population, are expected to become a majority by 2042 and be 54 percent of U.S. residents by 2050. U.S. to Grow Grayer, More Diverse, Minorities Will Be Majority by 2042, Census Bureau

America’s Greatest Shame: Child Poverty Rises and Food Stamps Cut While Billionaires Boom  

American Dream or Nightmare

… to what extent do an individual’s life chances depend on the income and edu­ca­tion of his or her parents? Nowadays, these numbers show that the American dream is a myth…The clear trend is one of concentration of income and wealth at the top, the hollowing out of the middle, and increasing poverty at the bottom…most importantly, America’s inequality is undermining its values and identity…America can no longer regard itself as the land of opportunity that it once was. But it does not have to be this way: it is not too late for the American dream to be restored. The Price of Inequality and the Myth of Opportunity by Joseph Stiglitz

America Is Far from #1 by Eric Zuesse

 

Culture war

Today, conservatives have a social argument for every subject of debate – everything has become part of the culture wars…the intermingling of social and concrete issues has accelerated in the age of Obama…It’s helping to fuel the growing reality-gap between conservatives and liberals …people tend to be more defensive about social issues, and less likely to be open to counter-arguments or new information… How the Right Has Turned Everything Into a Culture War — And Why That’s Terrible for Our Democracy By Joshua Holland, AlterNet, February 28, 2012

Race

…it took America — this place where the old divisions would need to be put aside so as to subjugate indigenous persons and maintain chattel enslavement of Africans in the name of “the white race” — to really bring racism, as we know it to fruition…If the elite could make the poor Europeans believe they were members of the same “white” team as the rich Europeans, then the prospects for class-based rebellion would be dampened…My goal…is to confront us with the reality that, ultimately, racial equity is in the interest of all of us… Tim Wise on White Resentment in a Multiracial Society  - interview by Mark Karlin

America’s Ku Klux Klan Mentality By Lawrence Davidson, Consortium News, September 8, 2012 

The Persistence of Racial Resentment

Conservative Southern Values Revived: How a Brutal Strain of American Aristocrats Have Come to Rule America By Sara Robinson

Fear of a Black President 

How Obama’s Election Drove the American Right Insane

 Sex

…The real problem we face is racism, bigotry and willful ignorance in the face of our changing demographics, spiritual beliefs and the challenge that postmodern thought poses to people stuck in Bronze Age thinking…America’s White Male Problem By Frank Schaeffer  

Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control — And Why We’ll Still Be Fighting About it 100 Years From Now

 

Divide and conquer

Wedge issues are a powerful distraction — and allow the right wing to accomplish their goals while the public is preoccupied with some trumped up emotional issue… wedge issues are emotional in appeal. They bypass the cognitive function of the brain and go right to a subconscious emotional response… Why are “Wedge Issues” Essential to Republican Rule?

….Throughout history, political elites have manipulated social groups to achieve and maintain power.… in the last two generations Republicans have masterfully used wedge politics– pitting us against them — to gain and keep power and to implement policies that a clear majority of the populace dislikes…There are powerful political and economic interests that want to keep us fragmented and at one another’s throats rather than working together to establish a more inclusive democracy. They will do all they can to stir continued discord between groups and to use wedge politics to defeat our aspirations for meaningful change. Can progressives of all persuasions, no matter what our primary interest groups may be, at least agree that we will stop doing their job for them?  Us vs Them: A Simple Recipe to Prevent Strong Society from Forming By James Rohrer, AlterNet.org, July 27, 2012

 

Economic Justice

What Money Can’t Buy and why eco­nom­ics needs to be seen not as a sci­ence but a moral philosophy

The Real Numbers: Half of America in Poverty — and It’s Creeping toward 75%

The Republicans’ War on the Poor

The GOP Is in Total Denial About America’s Soaring Poverty Problems By Michelle Goldberg, The Nation, posted on Alternet.org, December 16, 2013

America’s vast inequality is no accident, but in fact has been politically engineered….What government has done and not done, and the politics that produced it, is really at the heart of the rise of an economy that has showered huge riches on the very, very, very well off.”  politicians rewrote the rules to create a winner-take-all economy that favors the 1% over everyone else, putting our once and future middle class in peril. Engineered Inequality — Jacob Hacker & Paul Pierson on Moyers & Company,  March 1, 2012

Class wars

CEO-To-Worker Pay Ratio Ballooned 1,000 Percent Since 1950

How the Billionaires Class Is Destroying Democracy

The Empathy Ceiling: The Rich Are Different — And Not In a Good Way

Transfer of wealth

In recent decades, as Repub­li­cans have devoted them­selves with laser-like inten­sity to redis­trib­ut­ing America’s wealth and income upwardMany Democ­rats have been com­plicit in this calamity by their indif­fer­ence to the con­se­quences of dereg­u­la­tion and trade.… Redistributing wealth upward by Harold Meyerson, Washington Post, September 25, 2012

The Biggest “Takers” and Societal Parasites Are the Rich, Not the Working Class and Poor by Paul Buchheit, Buzzflash at Truthout, May 13, 2013

The Shocking Redistribution of Wealth in the Past Five Years by Paul Buchheit, Common Dreams, December 30, 2013

Economic justice — race

…The racial economic gap — also present in other measures of economic well-being, such as wage and unemployment gaps — has persisted over time in the United States… What Do We Really Know About Racial Inequality? Labor Markets, Politics, and the Historical Basis of Black Economic Fortunes By Cynthia Thaler

Capitalism

… Capitalism — the logic of subordinating every aspect of life to the accumulation of profit (i.e. the “rules of the market”) — has become today’s “common sense.” …What sustains the tragic myth that There Is No Alternative? Those committed to building a more just future must begin re-thinking and revealing the taken-for-granted assumptions that make capitalism “common sense,” and bring these into the realm of mainstream public debate in order to widen horizons of possibility… Reclaiming Our Imaginations from ‘There Is No Alternative’ by Andrea Brower

Corporate Espionage and the Secret War Against Citizen Activism

Conservative Fantasies About the Miracles of the Market 

Corporate Power

…It’s not the powerless who corrupt democracies… it’s the powerful who corrupt democracies. …America’s fiscal problems are a direct result of the Billionaire Class working behind the scenes of our democracy and syphoning off massive amounts of wealth for themselves while paying lower taxes than they’ve paid in a half-century… How the Billionaires Class Is Destroying Democracy By Thom Hartmann and Sam Sacks 

The corporate-policy network is highly centralized, at both the level of individuals and that of organizations. Its inner circle is a tightly interwoven ensemble of politically active business leaders…” Meet the Elite Business and Think-Tank Community That’s Doing Its Best to Control the World, By Andrew Gavin Marshall posted on Alternet.org June 19, 2013  

Corporate social responsibility

….As consumers, employees and entrepreneurs, Millennials are shifting the norms of corporate America’s conduct, ethical imperatives and purpose …A new generation of employees, consumers and entrepreneurs is stepping forward with a better way of doing business — putting its bets on the goodness of people rather than loading the dice in its own favor. Millennials to business: Social responsibility isn’t optional By Michelle Nunn

Economic justice — labor

… Money and budget deficits are the pretext for a larger battle to attack government and break public-sector unions for political reasons… What is really going on here is an effort by corporations and the GOP to dismantle one of the few remaining institutions in America that defy their power… Unions represented what John Kenneth Galbraith called a “countervailing power” on corporations…. Attacking unions: It’s not about the money, it’s about power By David Schultz, MinnPost.com

… the share of America’s work­force that’s union­ized hit a 97-year low…It’s a vicious cycle: as unions decline, fewer people see their fates as bound up with unions, which just accelerates the decline …when unions are stronger the economy as a whole does better… unions lift wages for non-union members too by creat­ing a higher prevailing wage…The weakness of labor is everyone’s problem — and its revival everyone’s opportunity. The Decline of Unions Is Your Problem Too By Eric Liu

Middle class

The Middle Class Faces Extinction—So Does the American Dream by Stewart Lansley, Los Angeles Review of Books, Alternet.org,  June 3, 2013

Big Lie: America Doesn’t Have #1 Richest Middle-Class in the World…We’re Ranked 27th! by Les Leopold

Biblical Capitalism

… “Biblical Capitalism” or the belief that unregulated capitalism is biblically mandated. The Religious Right is well known for its regressive social activism, but less publicized is the role it has played in the war against progressive economic policy, labor unions, the regulatory structure and social safety net. The sacralizing of laissez-faire capitalism predates the Tea Party movement and has been a major theme of fundamentalist textbooks for more than three decades…Biblical Capitalism — The Religious Right’s War on Progressive Economic Policy by Rachel Tabachnick, Talk2action.org, Feb 01, 2011

 Prosperity Christianity, or what some call “health and wealth” religion…is the adoption of the logic of free enterprise and branding as a way of understanding, experiencing, and proselytizing Christian religious values.…. As a set of religious teachings and training, the theology is centered on the notion that God provides material wealth—prosperity—for those individuals he favors… the teaching that believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth and that they can obtain these blessings through positive confessions of faith and the ‘sowing of seeds’ through the faithful payments of tithes and offerings… How Christianity Became a Lucrative Brand By Sarah Banet-Weiser, New York Press, posted on Alternet.org, December 17, 2012

Education

Our [emerging] economies…will require new literacies not only for work but for living a fulfilled life, coping with the new complexities of our societies, and engaging as a citizen…focus ever more on critical thinking, the ability to question, analyse, challenge; seeing arguments from different perspectives; articulating ideasWhat Does It Mean To Be Literate In The 21st Century? By Sheila Moorcroft, Shaping Tomorrow, posted on Alternet.org, June 19, 2012

…America will not remain true to its highest ideals…if we don’t do a far better job than we’ve been doing of educating our sons and daughters…For we know that economic progress and educational achievement have always gone hand in hand in America…The source of America’s prosperity has never been merely how ably we accumulate wealth, but how well we educate our people. This has never been more true than it is today…what’s at stake is nothing less than the American Dream…I’m calling on our nation’s governors and state education chiefs to develop standards and assessments that don’t simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking and entrepreneurship and creativity…President Obama’s Remarks to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, March 10, 2009

Report Argues U.S. Is Neglecting, Undervaluing Education in the Humanities

The Billionaires’ War Against Public Education 

Communications

The openness principle, often referred to as Net Neutrality, is why the Internet has become a network for the truest expression of the free market. Regardless of the court’s decision, the FCC has the responsibility to ensure that ISPs don’t use their power over Internet access to seize control of content and destroy this marketplace. Stopping Internet payola now is vital to saving the Internet over the long term. The End of Free Internet as We Know It? By Timothy Karr, Save the Internet, posted on Alternet.org, December 12, 2013 

… coverage in 2012 was a particularly calamitous failure, almost entirely missing the single biggest story of the race: Namely, the radical right-wing, off-the-rails lurch of the Republican Party, both in terms of its agenda and its relationship to the truth… Democrats were hardly inno­cent but…the Republican campaign was just far more over the top.”… fabulists and liars can exploit the elite media’s fear of being seen as taking sides… if the story that you’re telling repeatedly is that they’re all…equally to blame — then you’re really doing a disservice to voters, and not doing what journalism is supposed to do…How the Mainstream Press Bungled the Single Biggest Story of the 2012 Campaign by Dan Froomkin

Your False-Equivalence Guide to the Days Ahead James Fallows Sep 27 2013

Fox’s Unbalanced Ethics Threatens Democracy by Wendell Potter

Republicans Lied To by ‘Conservative Entertainment Complex’

 

Social media

While the traditional media loves fights, the new and emerging social media loves connections. We can leverage the wisdom and creativity of crowds to find win-win solutions to our common problems. We can scale our efforts to tens of thousands of conversations, giving individuals the power to begin to reweave the social fabric of our communities… Reweaving the Fabric of our Society by Joan Blades, co-founder, MoveOn.org /

How You Will Change the World with Social Networking by Deanna Zandt

 

Change/History

…the debacle of the last ten years didn’t just happen. And, yes, plenty of people did see it coming. Their warnings were ignored. What followed, then, didn’t “just happen,” but was the consequence of conscious choice…it is important to discuss and determine the causes of the various messes we find ourselves in The Uh-Ohs: A Decade of Conservative Failure by Terrance Heath

In or around 1978, America’s character changed…the institutions of American democracy, stronger than the excesses of individuals, were usually able to contain and channel them to more useful ends … In Washington, corporations organized themselves into a powerful lobby that spent millions of dollars to defeat the kind of labor and consumer bills they had once accepted as part of the social contract… what destroys morale below is the systematic corner-cutting, the rule-bending, the self-dealingOnce the social contract is shredded, once the deal is off, only suckers still play by the rules.   How American Society Unravelled After Greedy Elites Robbed the Country Blind By George Packer

The Long, Sordid History of the American Right and Racism

5 Christian Right Delusions and Lies About History By Amanda Marcotte, AlterNet, November 21, 2013 

 

Imagine America – crises and opportunities

Crises

When you are surrounded by something so big that requires you to change everything about the way you think and see the world, then denial is the natural response. We are heading for a crisis-driven choice. We either allow collapse to overtake us or develop a new sustainable economic model. We will choose the latter. We may be slow, but we’re not stupid.” Paul Gilding

For the first time in the history of the human species, we have clearly developed the capacity to destroy ourselves… The question is: What are people doing about it?It’s not because the population doesn’t want it…It’s institutional structures that block change.  Business interests don’t want it and they’re overwhelmingly powerful in determining policy, so you get a big gap between opinion and policy on lots of issues, including this one…It’s not that there are no alternatives.  The alternatives just aren’t being taken. That’s dangerous.  So if you ask what the world is going to look like, it’s not a pretty picture.  Unless people do something about it.  We always can. Humanity Imperiled — The Path to Disaster by Noam Chomsky, Huffington Post, June 4, 2013

The World Grows More Complex

 Opportunities

…biologically speaking, we are just as likely to be peaceful as we are to be violent…charts a new course for rejecting the old paradigm of war’s inevitability and finally releasing mankind from its destructive grip….Why War Isn’t Inevitable: A Science Writer Studies the Secret to Peaceful Societies by Brad Jacobson  

…….As consumers, employees and entrepreneurs, Millennials are shifting the norms of corporate America’s conduct, ethical imperatives and purpose…A new generation of employees, consumers and entrepreneurs is stepping forward with a better way of doing business — putting its bets on the goodness of people rather than loading the dice in its own favor. Millennials to business: Social responsibility isn’t optional By Michelle Nunn 

…A healthy democracy requires an educated electorate that shares basic truths and values — or at least is willing to sit down and listen to one another with an open mind, with mutual respect and civilityReweaving the Fabric of our Society by Joan Blades

what I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world…Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world…Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power…The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history…We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable…This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened before…Healing or Stealing? by Paul Hawken

 

Overview – titles – all topics