Today’s Purple Coalition

American consciousness shifted to a different political value system and we can call it purple.  It’s going to ripple through the American perception like a drop into a bucket.  The changes won’t be imminent but they’ll be inevitable.  You could call it a shift to collectivism but (hopefully) it could transcends that and becomes a celebration of autonomous achievement.  A celebration of scale.  We can operate a peaceful, humane society not just within a closed house, but in our closed neighborhood, our closed town, our closed region and also in our closed world.

The beauty of a closed community is that it is by definition open within.  This requires a certain faith in tolerance.  A faith that the current power structure did not have.  John McCain was, at the end of the day, the old power structure and Barack Obama was the change.

This election was a rejection of intolerance. Not intolerance of gays, but intolerance of opposing points of view.  Bush was a closed leader and closed leaders have opened up to their inner circle but not to the outside.  They naturally dislike dissent. Ask Leo Strauss, the hidden godfather of neoliberal/conservativism.  (It can be called both neoconservative and neoliberal because it is, essentially, neoism.)  David Harvey’s “A Brief History of Neoliberalism” defines it as a political-economic system that  “proposes that human well-being can be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade.  The role of the state is to create and preserve an institutional framework appropriate to such practices.” (Harvey, 2)

Neoliberalism, as a philosophy, has a glaring omission in the realm of foreign policy.  Neoconservatism fills the void with an aggressive, interventionist one.   Neoconservatives do not deny advocating American power projection.

Whether you want to call it “neoism“, neoliberalism or neoconservatism, that was the power structure of America and, with less direct influence, the world.

Of course, the vast majority of Americans don’t know this.  They know that things have been very unnatural for a while.  Living around farmland and buying food at Walmart? Living around towns with no stores?  Seeing a bunch of people on TV that don’t?

Since the 60s-70s we’ve been living in a reactionary world, a closing world built under the specter of communism.  The quicker we realize that our closed system is geared towards the wrong struggle, the quicker we can neutralize the next threat.  The Republican Party followed the old fear too far and now they’ll suffer.  The Republican party has not been the conservative party since Barry Goldwater in the 60s.  He couldn’t buid a coalition in 1962 and he was left in the dust and his principled followers scattered.  Hilary went to the Democrats and a gaggle went into the Republican party.  Ask Ron Paul how many friends he has and you’ll see how solidly Goldwater‘s vision was scattered: except for his furious anti-communism.  (He later rejected his aggressive foreign policy stance.)  That scattering never got to see their vision fulfilled but there is always the next generation.

Is Barack Obama that leader?  Yes: not because he’s so special, but because the times are special and he was selected by the mass for his amazing narrative, clarity and calm.  He is a void: he isn’t closed to anything and that makes him a centrist: ready to listen to and rule all.

The Purple Coalition is a group of Americans who said no to closed systems and yes to an open ones.  The New York Times tells us that this is a collection of people whom the closed system didn’t work.  It’s a collection of marginalized people: women (53%), 18-29 years old (66%), racial minorities including with Hispanics at 67%, single people and alternatively sexual, people who didn’t graduate high school (63%), urban residents (70%) and Jews (78%).  We all know that when the Jews pick ’em, they either succeed or don’t.

This coalition isn’t as easy to break down as yesterday’s Republican coalition of traditionalists, nationalists and libertarians: it’s a bunch of Americans who decided to agree with each other so they could create change.  This means that Obama isn’t going to rule for his party but for ALL Americans because when you’re selling ‘change’ to people, you’re selling to anyone might like it.  When you sell fear you’re removing ‘scary’ people from your audience.

Obama is going to frame his change for as many types of people as possible.  He is going to try and convince us all that his change is great and it’s going to get better.  That is fundamentally different than Bush and his closed political environment where he was trying to convince his constituency that change was to be feared.  Terrorism and pessimism are the tools of closed worldviews, celebration and optimism are the tools of open ones. Nationalism and Traditionalism are, by definition, closed.  Libertarianism is not.  It’s newest iteration could escape it’s current closed iteration and advocate a layered system of governance: an onion of natural jurisdictions.  This is the path forward for the Republican party, and what I’ll discuss in Part 3 of the Purple America Series: Tomorrow’s Republican (or Yellow) Coalition.

10 thoughts on “Today’s Purple Coalition”

  1. I have been awaiting this posting since “Part One.” I am sad to see that you have addressed none of the concerns posed by myself and Dimitar.

    My understanding of purple is that he will run an administration from the center. That he will implement some Blue, and some Red policies and a lot in between while including some red and blue policymakers. This just so clearly isn’t the case with Obama.

    Please explain how a Washington run by Obama, Emanuel, Reid and Pelosi will be “post-partisan” and “purple” and include everyone.

    You say “Bush was a closed leader and closed leaders have opened up to their inner circle but not to the outside.”

    No one likes to admit it, particularly because Bush has been despised by the Democrats since his controversial election in 2000, but Dubya has in fact been open minded and willing to leave party lines. Case in point his support for the McCain-Kennedy Immigration Act. Bush deserves a lot of blame for alienating members of both parties on the Hill. Members of both parties on the Hill also deserve a lot of blame for alienating Bush.

    A real purple coalition would be one based on open mindedness and compromise, someone who would be willing to piss off the extremists of each party and find a middle road.

    Do you foresee Obama being able or willing to do this?

  2. Yes. If he wants to make progress he MUST rule from the center. Of course, there will be pandering to his own party but I believe his mission is to run the nation from the center. It’s what the people have demanded and it’s the smart move if he wants a second term.

  3. How about keeping (R) Robert Gates, Defense Secretary in office? How about potentially choosing (R) Colin Powell as another cabinet member?

    Write Wing you look at four people–Reid, Pelosi, Emanuel, and Obama– and make drastic, overarching, assumptions about the administration. First off, Obama had nothing to do with working with Reid & Pelosi & his choice of Chief of Staff was a strategic move for reasons above and beyond Emmanuel’s “D” on his voter registratoin card. Above all he has many strong relationships with congressmen and if you know you’re political histroy, you should know that political wins are accomplished through close interactions. (Read Joseph Ellis’ Founding Brothers)

    Lastly, if you listened to Obama’s DNC speech, he definatly spoke about “center” policy. He said that R & D may not agree on abortion but surely they can agree that there are too many unwanted preganices. He said that R & D may not agree on oil policy but surely we all want to free ourselves from oil dependence. This is “center” consensus rhetoric.

  4. “I believe his (Obama’s) mission is to run the nation from the center”

    I don’t dispute that Obama will work more than most of our recent presidents to get complete consensus in Washington. Bush would never dream of reaching out to Pelosi and Reid. I think Obama will at least try to have much better relationships with Republican leaders like Boehner and McConnel.

    Here’s the problem: Obama wants consensus. But to form a puprle coalition, he’s going to need compromise. And when he is so ingrained in far-liberal ideals, I can’t see how (and frankly, why he would want to) lead his party to accept compromise.

    NoButta, you mention oil(/energy) policy. Obama has a very blue energy policy. He is opposed to increasing domestic production of oil. He wants to levy huge windfall profits taxes on energy companies leading the renewable energy revolution.
    He is resistant to clean coal and nuclear energy.

    This summer, I heard hundreds of congressmen talk about how bad the energy crisis was. They all agreed that “we al want to free ourselves from oil dependence.” But they had different ways to do it. The primary consensus didn’t solve any problems. If Obama wants a purple coalition, he will have to come up with a policy that’s in the middle and use his great rhetoric to convince both sides that the compromise is whats best for the country.

    This would be nice, particularly for a Republican like me ready to get nothing I want from government in the next 4 years. I just can’t see Obama leaving his policies.

  5. Obama’s center consensus rhetoric does not match his voting record. That’s not to say he won’t change as president, only that his history does not indicate that he is centrist.

    I agree with Walther that people do want the nation run from the center, but I question whether that is what they’re going to get with a Dem majority and a Dem President. If Obama is to govern from the center he will have to butt heads with his own party with great frequency. It remains to be seen whether or not he’s up to the challenge.

  6. re: Write Wing
    I’m a little surprised at your pick-and-grab argument style, especially in light of your criticisms toward Walther and Anthony for not addressing your past points..

    re: chubster
    If a presidents position could be determined by historical analysis and voting record than every political pundit would be out of the job.

  7. I just put up a “Questionable Link” on the front page that, in my opinion, resolves this debate to a large extent. The article is from The New Yorker and is called ‘The New Liberalism’. The author attempts to reconcile the competing “post-partisan” and “liberal progressive” sides of Obama that have everyone here in an uproar.

  8. So you agree that he’s a centrist with respect to cultural values and a liberal for social reform?

    I imagine, he’ll elect at least two liberal supreme Court Justices (easily approved by Congress) who will have a large impact on the cultural front leaving the social reform–jobs, health care, energy–to his administration.

    He’ll be able to push through major change–large government activism–because he is a transformative president. Using his network, built during the election, he can push his agenda in much the same way the networks of civil rights, or abolitionists helped Johnson and Lincoln.

    His agenda will be centered around equality. So throw away the cavier and start dipping those crackers in some good ‘ol fashing peanut butter.

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