Atonal Politics

We see an increasing disconnect between political leaders and the public.  I’m not talking about the failure of leaders to listen to those who “talk to power” but about how the ‘power’ attempts to shape the narrative – and both sides must then navigate that landscape.

‘The narrative’ is shaped around myths that the public has accepted, and later, the narrative is positioned to support those myths.  The biggest myths, of course, favor the Republicans: rugged idealism, free markets, a classless society, etc.

The left attempts to deal with this in a number of ways.  But there is no consistency.  Some attack the myths, some talk around the myths, some acknowledge myths that do not counter whatever their main concern is.  to the public, this mishmash is atonal.

This is at the heart of the left’s problems: a failure to connect with the people whose interests they claim to represent.  The left has given up on narrative.  It seeks small victories from grassroots activism.  But the biggest problem for these activists IS narrative!  No one wants to devote their time to anti-establishment initiative when the establishement tells them it is hopeless.

The establishment does disaster really well.  That is when everone is listening and the ‘will’ to change policy to one’s favor is most easily manipulated.  The Left can not compete with that.  It must find a way to reach the public at other times.  And especially to challenge the mythical handles that the establishment uses to manipulate public opinion.

This requires strong organization.  Activists must stop framing problems in ways that fail to engaging and are otherwise self-defeating. Examples:

– Socialists often denounce capitalism despite the public’s skepticism of alternatives to capitalism. (over-reaching);- Reformers often focus on a narrow (e.g. financial regulation) issue or a specific event (e.g. Fukusima);

– Activists often focus on wrongs done to a certain group (e.g. Minorities).

– Politicians pull punches (e.g. attack “inequality” not oligarchy).


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