Friday, July 25, 2003

Progressive Agenda Shaped by Fear

Recently myself and many thousands of fellow progressives took part in an extraordinary conversation across the nation. MoveOn paired us up to have conversations about our values and priorities and then to report on them. I was paired with a retired school teacher from Virginia. We talked for hours. Complete strangers, dissimular in most things, but in agreement on so much. It seems that everywhere people like us had similar conversations. The preliminary results indicate a strong concern for national security and civil rights; two of the most alarming aspects of the Bush agenda. It should come as no surprise that Progressives' apparent agenda is driven by the fear and contempt that Bush's reckless and short-sighted policies have engendered in people who have any sense of history or the finite limits of military power.

The problem is that once the bulk of people wake up and smell the regime change, putting in place a responsible Administration, will that consensus hold up or crumble? Is there more to the grassroots swell of activity, organization, and relative commity than a turn to anything that is not-Bush? Do the factional interests, the signle-issue voting, the layered constituencies, disunited by a lack of common focus which have hobbled us electorially in the past await us the moment we regain power? As our deepest concerns and fears for our own safety and that of our posterity fade due to a dimunition of the threat from our own government and as enternal threats are ameliorated by rational foriegn policies, will the newly united forces of classical liberalism, progressivism, activism, and moderation fall out once again?

We had better not. Or something worse than Bush will be stealthed into the Presidency next time. I know... I know... It's hard to imagine worse.

Here is the letter I received:

"Dear MoveOn member,

Over a month ago, you took part in what we affectionately called the
Great MoveOn Interview.  We paired up over 20,000 folks across the
country, and asked you to talk in a structured way about your values
and political beliefs.

Since then, we've been working hard on the MoveOn Primary, our
campaign to unearth the truth about the weapons of mass destruction in
Iraq, and defeating the FCC rule change.  But we haven't forgotten
about the time and energy you put into making the interview project a
success, and we wanted to let you know what's happening with your
reports now.

We've engaged a linguist to go through the over 100,000 pages of
comments you reported to us and look for big-picture commonalities --
places where many of us align in our values or priorities.  Your
interviews will help to form the basis for one of our biggest projects
yet -- an effort, working with our members and other groups, to expose
our unified vision for progressive politics.

We also paid very close attention to the issue areas that you deemed
important. After peace and national security, civil liberties was the
next most popular area of concern.  We'll look for ways to engage on
that issue over the next months.

Your responses have also helped us in our thinking about the big
picture.  Below, I've attached an editorial I wrote for the MoveOn
Bulletin that reflected on the interview experience.  Thanks so much
for your time and energy -- we'll continue to work with you and other
MoveOn members to craft a common, big-picture agenda for our work.

--Eli Pariser
 July 25th, 2003"


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