Newspaper Blogs

January 08, 2004

THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM....Yesterday I suggested that liberalism wasn't as dead as conservatives like to pretend it is — it just hasn't made much progress in the past couple of decades. Today I want to follow up on that with some speculation about the future of liberalism, something I first wrote about over a year ago.

My guess is that liberalism is due for a resurgence sometime in the next few years, and for the simplest of reasons: the country has been been on conservative cruise control for the past 20 years and it's time for a change. What kind of change? I don't know, but it's a sure bet that it will be something unexpected — something that will make today's debates about posting the Ten Commandments in city hall seem as archaic as fin de siecle debates about the free coinage of silver. Here's why.

There have been three big progressive waves of the 20th century and each one has been driven by a different idea. The first, roughly coinciding with Woodrow Wilson's presidency, was heavily driven by labor issues: child labor, safe working conditions, unionization, etc. It ended with the business oriented conservatism of the 20s ("the business of America is business").

The second progressive wave began with FDR's election and was mainly driven by the economic issues of the Depression. The old labor issues were still hot buttons, but labor gains were largely being consolidated during the 30s, with the Wagner Act as its last big legislative hurrah. The real issues of the New Deal related to the social safety net, and the signature legislation was Social Security, unemployment compensation, minimum wage laws, and so forth. This second wave ended after World War II when America, once again, took a breather and turned to business as the focus of day to day life ("What's good for America is good for General Motors, and vice versa").

The third wave began in the early 60s and was driven by yet another set of concerns. By this time the labor movement, now two cycles old, was practically conservative, and the social safety net from the previous cycle was in its consolidation phase (Medicare was its last showpiece program). This time, the driving issue was individual rights: civil rights, women's rights, and sexual rights. Roe v. Wade probably marked the cresting of this era, which was followed by a conservative respite and the usual turn to business during the Reagan years and beyond ("Greed is good," Dow 36,000).

If this cycle continues in its usual way, the next progressive wave is no more than a few years off. The social safety net (two cycles old) will no longer be a contentious issue, and individual rights (one cycle old) will be running out of steam, although it may still be enough of a hot button to inspire at least one major new piece of legislation (maybe something about privacy rights?)

None of this is to say that these issues from previous progressive eras are dead. They aren't: healthcare, for example, is likely to be a significant issue in the coming decade. At the same time, however, they aren't likely to be the enormous drivers of social change that they have been in the past.

But if the big issue of the next progressive era isn't labor, the social safety net, or individual rights, what will it be? Today, in hindsight, we can see Truman's integration of the armed forces and Jackie Robinson's debut with the Dodgers as the first faint stirrings of the great civil rights crusade that drove the 60s, but nobody in 1950 could have predicted that. Likewise, there is probably something simmering below the surface today that will drive the next big progressive era.

But what?

Posted by Kevin Drum at January 8, 2004 11:06 AM | TrackBack


Something along the lines of "I'm not gonna pay a lot for this muffler."

Posted by: scarshapedstar at January 8, 2004 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

My vote is for Universal Health Care. I think this, along with whatever issues come along with its passage, is an eventuality that will help revitalize this country.

Posted by: greg at January 8, 2004 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Health care.

Posted by: David W. at January 8, 2004 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Okay, seriously, legalized pot.

Posted by: scarshapedstar at January 8, 2004 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Well, based on that theory, I would suggest that "fair trade" might fit. Globalization is kicking into high gear, more people are becoming aware of the downside due to their own economic dislocation, more of those dislocated were making better money, and economists and policticians are now starting to talk openly about the problems of pure free trade.

I would also suggest gay rights, but that feels more like the residue of the 1960's individual rights movement, under your framework.

Posted by: kevin at January 8, 2004 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

anti-globalization activist will come to see that world economic integration is a force they can't impede and instead will push to globalize higher standards for the responsibilities of multi-national corporations to the resources they exploit and the people they employ.

There is an activist movement by young people all over the country who are concerned about globalization, but are yet untapped by a major party. It looks like that's the movement that's just waiting to explode to me, but who the hell really knows?

Posted by: ricky prado at January 8, 2004 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

The stimulus will likely come from financial sources, i.e. the budget deficit, the accumulated debt, and the resulting need to scuttle the programs of FDR and LBJ -- the social safety net that you reference in your post.

It's important to remember that, basically, 95% of our federal debt comes from *THREE* Republican presidents (two with the same last name).

Debt to the penny:

The GOP created the first depression, and, even if they don't create another, they've permanently crippled the ability of our government to operate and provide security to the American people.

Along these lines, perhaps Clark's new tax plan is a step in this new direction?

Posted by: r at January 8, 2004 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Something that lives through social capital. Some sort of reintegration of home, work and commerce.

Posted by: allen claxton at January 8, 2004 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

I'd suggest perhaps a focus on transparency, driven by backlash from the almost obsessive secrecy of the current Administration. It's a thin reed to hang an entire progressive movement on, though...

Another, suggestion would be an environmental focus for the Next Big Liberal Wave. The impact of, say, a New Deal style crash program into sustainable and renewable energy would have about the same level of effect as FDR's reforms had on the status quo....

Something to think about.

Posted by: the Fourth Man at January 8, 2004 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

I could see it being one of three things...

First, Universal Health Care. That one's a biggy, and it's proably overdue.

Second, fair trade as opposed to free trade.

And third, a sort of internationalism that works to combat some of the vast economic/health problems in places like Africa and central Asia.

Posted by: JoeF at January 8, 2004 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Looks to me as though your 2d and 3d waves were all part of the same thing, Kevin. I don't think Ike was all that conservative a President... Liberalism had a nice 50-year run. Now conservatism in in the middle of its 50-year run. (Look on the bright side, though... maybe you'll even still be around when conservatism's 50-year run ends! Snicker.)

Posted by: Al at January 8, 2004 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Somehow, I get the impression that the next liberal movement may be driven by one of these impulses:

1.) I don't like having Florida under water. Someone tell me why we let that happen again?

2.) I don't like breathing in all this soot. Why are we letting people dump this stuff out again?

3.) I don't like how much these people are ripping me off in the stock market.

4.) I don't like how totally controlled our government is by business interests.

I think that the 2 major issues that may drive any revival in liberalism are the environment and business/government corruption. The environment, while improved some over the last 30 years, is still facing major pitfalls, and all it takes is something like a major icecap melting event or a major disease to be born out of factory farmign to illustrate that.

Likewise, it's already obvious how badly corrupt the "Greed is good" world has become. Enron, mutual fund companies, worldcom, mad lobbyist donations to political parties, etc. all go together to illustrate the problem. One main reason why I think people have become so disconnected from their government is that the government listens more to people with money and lets them do wahtever they want. At some point, this situation will become unstable; I don't believe the peopel will forever stand for being 2nd place to corporate interests.

1 thing that may stand in the way of a new revival of liberalism though this time Kevin is the fact that those forces standing in the way have built a much more massive defense system. In the 19-teens it only took a few books and writings to launch that liberalism movement. The 60's, it took some political events. But now, we have the entire media apparatus being gradually geared to preventing such a thing from happening. They minimize the effect of billions in theft in the mutual fund industry, they minimize the risk that environmental issues really do present to health, and they try to sell their specific philosophy as part of the American Dream. Just look at talk radio if you want the best example; it will be far more difficult now launch a new liberal movement when there are so many Rush's, Ann Coulter's, and Bill O'Reilly's standing in the way. These people have enough power over the way peopel get information to substantially retard the process that you refer to.

Posted by: Balta at January 8, 2004 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Two words: trucker hats.

Posted by: Sven at January 8, 2004 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

I can't articulate it well, but maybe something about government - Democratic or Republican - being more accountable to the people from whom the power nominally stems, instead of to special interests? In this scenario, political blogging and the Dean internet phenomena would be the tip of the iceberg.

Or maybe I'm on crack again.

Posted by: Skinny at January 8, 2004 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know the answer, of course, or else I would have suggested something myself. However, my guess is that the next big progressive wave will be driven by some kind of major technological trend. I don't know what it is, but whatever it is, it's probably already underway.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at January 8, 2004 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

The correct answer is that this wave will be animated by concern about the long-term survival of democracy in the United States.

Flashpoints already experienced include the effort for campaign finance reform, serious corporate scandals, and concerns about media concentration and manipulation of the public.

Future flashpoints will include the manipulation of actual voting (see Diebold) and a continuing (and building) concern about corporate influence on government and the media.

If our side wins, we see, over the next fifty years, a renewal of democratic ideals in this country and a hobbling of corporate power.

If our side loses, we see, over the next fifty years, an increasingly authoritarian and crypto-fascist United States controlled by economic interests.

Posted by: Ethan at January 8, 2004 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

We're going to break the cycle. The political organization of the antimodernist fundamentalist Right has changed the dynamic.

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 8, 2004 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

You put your finger on one issue: healthcare; especially with our society growing older.

The second thing will be our changing racial demographics.

Posted by: JadeGold at January 8, 2004 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

government is going to have to start favoring workers over corporations. it may play out more broadly as corporate vs individual rights.

when business starts to ship jobs overseas in order to make greater profits, business no longer benefits *all* americans, only shareholders and corporate officers. this is going to come from both directions, eventually--when out-of-work and under-employed americans can't afford to buy goods made by american companies, corporations have killed their own golden goose.

henry ford got this in 1926 when he said:

The more well-paid leisure workmen get, the greater become their wants. These wants soon become needs. Well-managed business pays high wages and sells at low prices. Its workmen have the leisure to enjoy life and the wherewithal with which to finance that enjoyment.
The industry of this country could not long exist if factories generally went back to the ten hour day, because the people would not have the time to consume the goods produced.

- Henry Ford: Why I Favor Five Days' Work With Six Days' Pay.

we're going to have to adjust capitalism in order for it to work in a globalized society.

Posted by: rebecca blood at January 8, 2004 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know the answer, of course, or else I would have suggested something myself. However, my guess is that the next big progressive wave will be driven by some kind of major technological trend. I don't know what it is, but whatever it is, it's probably already underway.

I think you're a bit too close to the trend to realize what it is, Kevin. In fact, you're a fine example of the trend yourself! If progressive politics requires populism, you couldn't ask for something better than the internet and blogging as a tool to that end.

Posted by: David W. at January 8, 2004 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

The above comments are all kind of silly and trivial, except for the ones about universal health care. Although I personally think health care should remain entirely an individual responsibility (just like food, clothing, entertainment, housing, etc.), obviously lots of voters feel otherwise. When medical science was so ineffective that it didn't matter much whether you could see a doctor, people were prepared to do with only the health care they could afford; that is no longer the case - medical science (thanks in large part to the drug companies so hated by so many of the posters here) has advanced to the point where it really can make a difference, and so people want it even if they can't afford it. And in a democracy with weak protections for private property, as in ours, what they people want they'll eventually get.

Posted by: DBL at January 8, 2004 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

You know, I'm really tempted to post something about something simmering down below the surface of my pants.

But that would be pretty crass and only mildly humorous...

Posted by: IMU at January 8, 2004 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Tax the rich and cut government

Liberals will return to their roots and reduce oppressive government. This will happen because U.S. Government will become more ineffectual as foreign purse strings determine government policy.

Globalization distributes economic power, and when liberals go to government for their programs they will increasingly be negotiating with foreign banks for funding.

Posted by: Matt Young at January 8, 2004 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

It'll be health care, with a 20% chance it's driven by a popular revolt and 80% chance it's driven by big bizness fed up with paying for it.

Posted by: Atrios at January 8, 2004 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

I think your analysis could actually be taken even farther back in time, to the era of Henry Clay and his people.

To me, the next wave will be the consolidation of personal freedom and the establishment of an "openness culture" combined with transparency in business. That's the next wave.

I don't think personal freedoms have been consolidated at all. Kevin, WE ONLY JUST RECENTLY had anti-sodomy laws overturned in the United States, and it's still LEGAL to fire people for being homosexuals.

The next wave will consolidate the trend towards personal freedom for individuals. From legalizing gay marriage to legalizing drugs.

This will, IMHO, be combined with a strong move towards transparency in business and business dealings. Additionally, we'll see moves to harness the power of capitalism for social good -- such as ecotourism, moves to help out the environment through the smart use of capitalism, etc.

Posted by: Tony Shifflett at January 8, 2004 11:29 AM | PERMALINK


I typically agree with you, Kevin, but on this I'm not so sure. To try and keep things simple (or at least within the realm of my understanding), I'll say this:

- I think that we saw the first plantings and root development of modern liberalism with the elections (multiple) of FDR. We were too busy being at war and then *recuperating* from war to let too much liberalism happen, but the success of two Democrats (FDR & Truman) led the public to have faith in the party. Once JFK came along, the era of liberalism was really starting to bloom. This lasted pretty much until the 80s, when Reagan swept into office and the money-driven, conservative society became king. I think there was a bit of a reprieve during the '90s, with Clinton, but he was to centrist that it really bore no similarity to the liberalism of old. And we've been seeing a hardcore *increase* in liberalism since 2001, for reasons we're all surely aware of. I'm not sure when it will end, but I *will* say...

- I think that, hopefully, sooner or later, the Republican stranglehold over the government will end. It's not good to have one party -- *any* party -- to control all three branches of government, and I think the American people will wisen up to this at some point and beginning voting in a way which will split-up the power.

One way or another.

Just my two cents.

Posted by: Matt at January 8, 2004 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

I'm glad you've brought this up kevin.

I have always been baffled by conservative's claim that they are 'winning'. Winning what?

It seems that we have a sort of 'two steps forward, one step back' process where liberal ideas advance and then are countered by conservatives but who only manage to overturn part of what liberals did, leaving the country more liberal that it was before the process started.

Posted by: GT at January 8, 2004 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

I'm going with transparency. Look at our current obsession with voyeristic television and the excesses that have taken place behind closed doors in the country in the last two decades.

You're right that the next big change will be technologically based Kevin. And this very medium is part of that change. I'd suggest to anyone thinking about what's next read 'The Light of Other Days' by Clark and Baxter. The Internet is casting light into just about any part of daily life. At this point it's mostly cast on celebrities, but as the penetration of the net reaches saturation levels, and devices such as Internet enabled phone, and later video cams become ubiquitus you're going to see the slow weakening on the media as we, the public become the 4th estate.

Today we read blogs about politics, about how bad things are in Iraq, about a WTO march. Tomorrow we'll be able to see the images for ourselves. VidBlogging will kill the media. Look around you the seeds of the revolution have been planted and we're just popping out of the ground.

People will either learn to live in a more transparent world, or we'll attempt to legislate privacy in an effort to assure past senses of morality on future generations.

I'm not sure if this is a revolution wating to happen, or an evolution that is currently taking place. But just think about how elections have been run in your life time. The earliest presidential election I can remember well is Clinton/Bush, look at what the Internet and the information revolutions has done to Presidential Elections in 12 short years. What will elections look like in another 12?

Posted by: Gary at January 8, 2004 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Universal health care, combined with advances in genetic research that could profoundly affect our longevity and give us far more control (for good or ill) over the genetic heritage of our children and our own future health. Once that kind of biological research really picks up speed, the question isn't just going to be whether or not we all have access to needed medical care. The questions are going to involve things like: How long do I get to live in good health? when 120 years or more of such an existence is possible, just to name one.

That's my oversimplified prediction, anyway.

Posted by: PS at January 8, 2004 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

I wrote:

"And we've been seeing a hardcore *increase* in liberalism since 2001"

Meant to say 'conservatism', not 'liberalism'.


Posted by: Matt at January 8, 2004 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Equal rights for homosexuals. Marriage et. al.. The same "state rights" rhetoric is being played by many politicians that want to avoid the issue that was once used to avoid the segregation and civil rights issues in the late 50s and early 60s. We are moving towards the cusp, the climax, and I, for one, believe we will follow a similar path. I do not expect fire hoses and dogs being unleashed. The martyrdom of protestors is now well known to help a cause in the long run. Perhaps we haven't learned as much as I think we have in history.

Posted by: Jeff Hodges at January 8, 2004 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Renewable energy and new energy technologies (a final break with the petroleum-based economy)... and ... inevitably, universal, single-payer health care.

Posted by: samela at January 8, 2004 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

I think Balta hits the nail on the head -- two likely possibilities are the environment and corporate corruption and undue influence on government.

For the former, maybe a "Manhattan Project" for the environment, focused on renewable energy sources?

For the latter, wouldn't it be nice to re-visit corporate personhood, that destructive accident of history?

Posted by: jackson at January 8, 2004 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Health care, drug legalization, the environment, government transparency: These are all good issues, but I don't see them driving a whole new progressive wave.

Network freedom--attacks on file sharing, increasingly repressive intellectual property laws, etc--that, I can see energizing a whole new kind of liberalism in the decades to come.

Posted by: Evan at January 8, 2004 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

There seems to be a lot of " antimodernism " here on the Left.

Kevin is looking for the next big idea for Liberalism which would have to be most likely a relatively * new * idea - most of what was offered so far is a simple re-hash of old ideas. Harry Truman proposed national health care - how many ppl posting here were even alive back then ?

Liberalism is struggling because right now it's a backwards-looking movement that cherishes old triumphs and serves graying constituencies. It fights for the status quo - making it more " conservative " than many right-leaning ppl like myself.

My guess is Liberalisms next big idea will probably be adapted from something that comes out of less doctrinaire, younger, left-libertarian quarters. At the moment there doesn't seem to be all that much intellectual creativity or tolerance for innovation in mainstream liberalism.

Posted by: mark safranski at January 8, 2004 11:44 AM | PERMALINK
I can't articulate it well, but maybe something about government - Democratic or Republican - being more accountable to the people from whom the power nominally stems, instead of to special interests?

Preference voting, multimember legislative districts, that kind of thing?

Posted by: cmdicely at January 8, 2004 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

I think we're going to combine the second and third waves to come up with the Equality Movement. We'll realize that the estate tax is a good equalizer, that we need to fund public education and children's health properly, that we are just playing at being a meritocracy when some people start out so far ahead and others so far behind. We'll realize that not only should children not be working 14 hour days in factories, they shouldn't be going to schools with old books and no air conditioning, nor be malnutritioned and quietly unwell.

And this will also be like the first wave, insofar as it is about economics to a certain degree. Being poor and uneducated isn't much better in Appalachia for white people than it is in Compton for African American people or in South Texas for Latino people. Once people are legally equal regardless of race, gender and sexual orientation, we need to ask whether they are being equally treated in the capitalist race.

Posted by: PG at January 8, 2004 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

If Kevin is right about it being technologically driven, and I think he is, the leading candidate would have to be genetics. What the scientific community understands about modern genetics is not compatible with the foundations of large group’s moral reasoning. With stem cell research we can see some of this. Bush’s ‘splaining worked with the average American, but if you study his proposals his thinking is gobbledygook. As more advances in genetics occur, the divide may become more obvious. The rights of the first cloned person will make for interesting ethical discussions. Genetic enhancements, organ banks, etc, may force us to re-examine what are the real foundations of humanity. Animal rights may play a part. Artificial intelligence too. Should be very interesting.

Posted by: theCoach at January 8, 2004 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

I am not convinced that there is a "next wave," or, if there is, that it is almost upon us. Any evidence of it?
But, having said that, I think environmental issues offer liberals tha most hope right now. Conservative free market thinking does not provide many substantive answers to these problems. Rather, conservatives concentrate (often with good reason) on pointing out the weaknesses of environmentalists' descriptions of the problems and the costs of their solutions. But many of the problems are real, and will grow more severe in the next couple of decades.

Posted by: Brooklynite at January 8, 2004 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

It isn't going to happen, because by then the Republicans will have done away with the two party system, and elections will be just like those Saddam ran in Iraq. 99.99999999% turnout, with all the votes for one guy ... the Republican candidate. There won't be any room for a progressive movement short of revolution. I hope I'm wrong!

Posted by: econalyst at January 8, 2004 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

It might be a reaction to the "national security state," which has grown leaps and bounds since 9/11. I imagine this falls under the "individual rights" heading, but different from the 60s in that current inequities resulting from the war on terror are ones we inflicted on ourselves, rather than the majority against minorities.

But, then, maybe nothing "progressive," with a big 'P', will happen until the first generation of androids liberates itself, ala Animatrix.

Posted by: Amitava Mazumdar at January 8, 2004 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

I think Balta made a good point (posted at 11:17 AM). The Conservative machine is much more sophisticated these days, and has a lot of control over public perception. Like Kevin pointed out yesterday, Republicans are making all of their right-wing changes by claiming that they actually have liberal effects.

As long as the average citizen isn't willing to spend an hour or two daily in order to keep up with politics, they are going to have no choice but to believe politicians (or at least disbelieve the ones in both parties equally... which has the same effect.) I'm not sure how a new movement can rise that way. In the past, when liberal movements rose, the conservative politicians were honest about having different goals, making it easy for relatively uninformed voters to decide who they wanted to put in charge. These days, when we have both parties claiming to want to help the environment, both parties claiming to want to fix Social Security, etc, what happens if both parties claim they want to help with whatever the *Next Big Thing* is?

So unless the media develops enough of a backbone to start explaining who is telling the truth, I can't imagine a new liberal movement taking off unless it is in favor of something that conservatives find too distasteful to even pay lip service to. (That's probably why some people suggested gay rights in this discussion. It's not that it's as big an issue as Labor or rights-for-everyone. It just happens to be one of the few things that the some right-wingers are too disgusted by to even pretend to like.)

Posted by: Nevin at January 8, 2004 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if we might gain some insight into the question by tracing progressive movements further back. My knowledge of nineteenth century US history is rather dim, so can anyone help me out?

My one point of reference: 1862 : Emancipation Proclamation :: 1962 : 24th Amendment submitted for ratification. I'm aware that the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement are not absolute analogs, but can they be considered parallel progressive movements? Are there similarly parallel movements to the Wilsonian and New Deal eras in the prior century? Obviously, the US was in its infancy one hundred years before Wilson, so maybe there's not enough data.

This is obviously a leading question. I'm trying to test the theory that these progressive movements are part of a larger cycle of history. If it plays out, and for reasons mentioned by others in this thread, I cast my vote for a new Internationalism, consisting of bringing social justice to Globalization, and even addressing global environmental issues (bring on the renewable clean energy). These issues are in the air (so to speak) and they would fit nicely into the established cycle (if it does exist).

Posted by: pickabone at January 8, 2004 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

I'll go with a combination of a few things above. I think the big change will be in the area of the environment, and it will be driven by one of (or both of) the following: a) a catastrophic domestic environmental event that has a 9/11-esque effect; b) a new technology, probably in the area of renewable energy.

Environmentalism is in some ways an old liberal idea, but it's still immature in some ways. People need a sense of urgency and a sense that environmentalism is not the enemy of progress or wealth. That will happen in the coming decade.

Posted by: Realish at January 8, 2004 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

First of all:

And in a democracy with weak protections for private property, as in ours

WTF? That's all your government really does, man.

My two cents:

3-D, on-demand porn.

Seriously though, I see one big blob of bad societal change happening in ernest for the last, oh, 20 years or so, at least in this country. That is:

#1-The commoditization and commercialization of everything- which means

everything is now weighted according to its worth as a liquidated asset,every aspect of society is a potential target audience, everything we do is pretty much in the pursuit of money.

#2- The absolute ascendency and supremecy of money as our whore-god (seriously).

Money is veiwed as literally the cure for all societal and personal ills, money has become our only solution and salvation because...

#3- The societal loss of imagination.

We're so fucking stupid as a society it's frightening. I don't mean just straight book smarts or being able to make a new HDTV set, but the majority of the country seem to be of the mind that there's nothing anyone can do about anything so all you can do is "build wealth for me and my family" (see #2). I mean, "government is the problem"? How far down the idiot hole does a nation need to fall to forget that government is supposed to be people?

#4- General Self-Absorbtion. This stems from all of the above but the fact is we're a paranoid, spiteful, ungenerous, uncaring nation as a whole. Yeah, some people hide behind the "no, I'm not selfish, I just don't want to be forced via taxes too- [give money to these people I hate]" bullshit argument, but, it's bullshit. Pretty much every bit of legislation that comes out of the GOP is either taking money away from someone in the name of "fairness" and behind the shield of our "meritocracy", or giving money to people who are in the same club as they are. It's all just self-absorption and hate.

My favorite is the "welfare programs are insulting and degrading to the people on them, they'd rather work at Walmart" argument.

#5- Fascist-style nationalism and delusions of "meritocracy".

We're not always the greatest and best. We're not always right. We don't always have the best intentions. This is not a meritocracy. But apparently half of the nation is legally insane because they can believe no other truth.

Those are the big, bad trends that have been taking over this country the last 20 years and I think either we'll continue in that vein and destroy ourselves or whatever new movement happens will come out of a rejection of the disgusting cess-pool of hateful cynicism we're all wallowing in.

I think an ethical shift will have to happen before anything else does so I think some national shift in values to something more like "society as for society" rather than "fuck you I got mine".

Posted by: Tim at January 8, 2004 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure that I read something not too long ago where young people were generally more conservative than their parents. Some poll somebody took.

Posted by: Ron at January 8, 2004 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

I think transparency of government might be the right direction. Think of how popular CSPAN has become over the last few years -- I think people will demand more of that.

Can you imagine a CSPAN camera in the Oval Office? Coupled with legislative blogs and other technological advances, this may help bring about a focused voter-centric government.

Posted by: allan at January 8, 2004 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

It's biotech (cloning, voluntary individual-driven gene therapy and engineering). Right now, the gay rights issue stands as the last social issue on which the left is correct, from the social-libertarian perspective. As all the other equality issues have been won and this one seems inevitable, that bloc is headed rightward for a while. It'll come back in a couple decades, when the technology catches up with the fears of the Kassite conservative, and then they'll be repelled back to the left.

Posted by: Jeff at January 8, 2004 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Samela gets the prize. A combination of factors driven by necessity (i.e. petroleum supply dwindling).

Posted by: Bitchy Boy at January 8, 2004 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff is probably right. Maybe it is biotech, especially if it becomes possible to genetically engineer children to make them smarter, more athletic, etc.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at January 8, 2004 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

I vote for the Great Depression of the 21st Century, caused by the mass Baby Boomer retirement in combination with Dubya/GOP House-fueld Enron economics.

To my skeptical eyes, it will take a major economic earthquake for Congress to challenge the power of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

Posted by: Bragan at January 8, 2004 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

My last comment was in regard to enacting universal health care.

Posted by: Bragan at January 8, 2004 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

It had better be a wave of Newthink that allows us all to move forward without being tied to monolithic political labels such as liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, etc. We need a radical departure from Classical political thinking. Maybe Quantum Thought, in which absolute certainty of conviction is unattainable and the recognition of this opens up a whole new world of opportunity.

Posted by: melk at January 8, 2004 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Yup, I'm with Kevin: the next wave will be technology driven. I'd hazard a guess that it will be one (or more) of three looming technologies: Bio-medicine/genetic engineering, ubiquitous computing and/or nanotechnology.

The problem I see - in regards to liberalism - is that these technologies have the potential to be truly disruptive. At least as disruptive as radio, tv or the automobile and perhaps more than all three. I'm both afraid and hopefull that these technologies will render such industrial-age philosophies as Liberalism (in the original sense) and Marxism utterly irrelevant. That should go double for pre-industrial romantic ideologies like Fascism and Conservatism.

A technology that makes the means of production free to all will be the ruin of all these ideologies. And, as Vernor Vinge would argue, these technologies may make us and society so different that we, now, are as incapable of comprehending what the results may be as a medieval serf would be of comprehending the information technology of today.

Posted by: Harry Tuttle at January 8, 2004 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, Bragan is also right.

People of my generation already hate the Baby Boomers with a passion. I refuse to watch the West Wing becuase there is nothing I find more offensive than having a bunch of baby boomer leftists licture me about morality in politics.

But that's just a TV show. Just wait until they start voting themselves increases in social security benefits. It's not going to be pretty. That's okay, though: they deserve to suffer.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at January 8, 2004 12:14 PM | PERMALINK


You most certainly cannot speak for anyone else on the planet but yourself.

Posted by: Tim at January 8, 2004 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

I would suggest the book "The stars my destination" for a sort of musing on what it would mean to have progress (technological or otherwise) completely take away your privacy.

Posted by: Tim at January 8, 2004 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Personal space will be a political pivot. People want electronic privacy/anonymity. People want to control the media they buy (music, videos, even news), so they can manipulate it themselves for artistic or other purposes. People want a protected, space safe from the bombardment of advertisements (which is now as ubiquitous as noise pollution). People don't want to be surveilled by big business/big government. In a electronically based, media intense world, the struggle will be who has control over information and access-- the people or the powerful.

Posted by: GFW at January 8, 2004 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

The election of GWB was the begining.

Posted by: agave at January 8, 2004 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

As a progressive Republican, I do have to add that your first progressive era began with Teddy Roosevelt. Wilson carried it from there, but TR put the ball in motion.

Posted by: Dennis at January 8, 2004 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Tim, you are right, that was rude.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at January 8, 2004 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

People of my generation already hate the Baby Boomers with a passion. I refuse to watch the West Wing becuase there is nothing I find more offensive than having a bunch of baby boomer leftists licture me about morality in politics.

FWIW, it's because of boomers like me who have been paying more into the Social Security and Medicare system that you can thank for it being as sound as it currently is. I do think it funny to hear how offended you are, as it sounds just like you're lecturing us boomers now... ;-)

But that's just a TV show. Just wait until they start voting themselves increases in social security benefits. It's not going to be pretty. That's okay, though: they deserve to suffer.

You think your parents deserve to suffer too? I hope you're willing to help them pay for medical care if Medicare isn't there for them.

Posted by: David W. at January 8, 2004 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

As a progressive Republican, I do have to add that your first progressive era began with Teddy Roosevelt. Wilson carried it from there, but TR put the ball in motion.

A very good point. I was listening last weekend while on the road to a NPR report that described how TR, after reading The Jungle by Sinclair Lewis, pushed Congress hard to enact laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

Posted by: David W. at January 8, 2004 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

I think the future of egalitarianism as a viable moral imperative is at stake. Will each human life be worth the same in the eyes of the law, international covenants, and popular thought? (Or, better: what do we need to do to make sure current egalitarian morality remains in place and is practically expanded?). For example, when you hear futurists talking about huge leaps in human longevity just around the corner, you have to ask: is that going to be available to everyone? And at what cost? When others look to exploding gains in productivity easing out whole segments of the work force, one asks: what will people do, and how will they support themselves? And when you see globalization in the short term causing real misery in the developing world, one asks: how do we stop what can seem tantamount to the exploitation of the 19th century without losing the benefits globalization provides?

I think this means two major threads others have mentioned upthread--the rededication to democratic principles in government (if they ever really existed) and the zealous pursuit of cheap technology for everyday use by everybody to make everyone's lives better. We'll need to pursue traditional conservative strategies of growing our way to prosperity, and we'll need to pursue traditional liberal strategies of regulating excess behavior in the marketplace and the social sphere, but both impulses will need to be finely balanced.

We'll probably need to establish a permanent off-world human presence relatively soon as a base for unbounded economic growth. Maybe we'll become star children or those aviary 12th men with the third lung from Olaf Stapledon, the ones who live forever and consume each other in a feast when they become bored with life. But not in this cycle.

Seriously, though, I think the future of egalitarianism as a viable moral imperative is at stake.

Posted by: KevStar at January 8, 2004 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't read through all of the comments so someone may already have said this, but I for one think it will be a push towards true internationlism. As a former ex-patriot, I spent twelve years living abroad in Europe and I can tell you that whatever else they may have going against them, they recognize the need to cooperate with one another for the mutual good. (Witness the EU) Bushy Fucknuts and Co. should have brought us closer to our allies and friends of liberty, but they have done everything in their power to keep America isolated from the greater world community (at least isolated from the benefits..) and have made us less safe in the process. If this is to be the beginning of a new era of progressivism, it needs to start with the removal of the biggest obsticle to prosperity and peace this country has seen in generations. Get out there and vote and do all you can to encourage others to do so as well.
Thank you.

Posted by: Brian at January 8, 2004 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

I think Tim has an extremely valid point. America barely functions as a 'society' any more. We have taken the idea of 'rugged individualism' way too far. That has to be undone for there to be any significant change in America. So any new liberalism would have to address that.

Government is evil == my fellow citizens are evil. The government sucks == I suck.

Until Americans get that through their head, the government will continue to be bought and paid for, as Americans think not caring puts them above the fray. In reality, it just continues to let the foxes guard the henhouse.

Balta also brings up a very important point. Those that would oppose a new liberalism movement (I would call it a new populace movement) are now much more savvy than they used to be. They can quite possibly thwart it today, in a way that they could not in the past. It really does seem possible to manufacture reality in America today.

Posted by: Timothy Klein at January 8, 2004 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Americans may become passionate about the basic welfare of the rest of the globe. I'm not saying this is probable, but I think it is possible. Two indicators I see: the current GOP's "neocon" habit of talking in humanitarian, not realist terms about the planet, which I find a radical and resonant departure for half our nation; and Dean's linking of trade to basic human and labor rights overseas. I find Dean's position incoherent, but it is welcome to see a frontrunner introduce such topics into national discourse.

Posted by: John Isbell at January 8, 2004 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with a lot of Tim's rant, and I think the broad theme of the next progressive spurt will be interconnectedness.

* The exhaust from my Ford Instigator helps contribute to massive flood in Houston.

* The cuts to the public health budget to pay for my tax cut helps contribute to an out-of-control pandemic.

* My naked pursuit of consumer goodies contributes to the social impoverishment of my community.

* The oil that needs to be imported to sustain the American way contributes to countless deaths due to war, terrorism, and the like.

So what would such a liberalism look like? It might not be as easy to boil down as Kevin has done for the earlier eras, but rebuilding society my be a good shorthand.

Rebuilding public education, so that everyone has an opportunity to develop to their full potential . . .

Rebuilding energy technologies, so that we can harvest all we need close to home . . .

Rebuilding the medical insurance system, so that illnesses can be caught at an early, easier-to-treat stage . . .

Rebuilding the balance between work and home, so that children can spend more time with their fathers and mothers than they do with television . . .

If technology will play a role, it'll be technology we already have but don't yet know how to fully exploit. I think the internet will play a huge role in a lot of this stuff. Its economic impact is still being worked out, and the political ramifications have yet to be fathomed.

Posted by: jlw at January 8, 2004 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Can we please discuss all this theory & philosophy sometime after Nov. 2? In the meantime, there's a lot of work to do. For now, the big issue has to be getting Bush out of the White House.

Posted by: David Raatz at January 8, 2004 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

A sideline, extra-governmental change I hope will occur as a result of this resurgent liberal next wave is the liberalization of religions. That is, reform movements, as we have seen in the past, seeking to modernize religious thought and practice. And I mean all the major religions. The fundamentalist cycle in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam has been hanging around too long (since the 1970s, I'd say).

Posted by: samela at January 8, 2004 01:01 PM | PERMALINK

Statehood for Northern Mexico.

Economic ties between Mexico and the U.S. become so intertwined that Northern Mexicans begin a secessionist movement to join the U.S. as a new state of the union.

California and Texas basically approve the plan, and it is taken up as the new liberal cause.

Posted by: Matt Young at January 8, 2004 01:02 PM | PERMALINK


You are 100 percent right. We forget how different the party alignments were 100 years ago, but TR definitely qualifies as one of the most progressive of the 20th Century. If the Republican Party ever decides to put people like that in charge again, I'll sign up.

Posted by: Magenta at January 8, 2004 01:02 PM | PERMALINK

The rise of the industrial Third World, with workers in those countries moving up the economic ladder, and the increasing economic power of India and China as producers and markets, combined with the growth of the EU, results in one thing happening over the next twenty years.

The decline of the massive economic influence of the United States on the globe.

This is going to be good in most parts of the world, and very ugly here.

The United States populace is going to be forced into the realization that finite resources are going to have to be used to defend their own middle class existence, to prevent the average American worker from being wage-deflated in the new world labor market, probably through emulating European social services through higher taxes to protect individuals and families from financial disasters via healthcare and to promote competitiveness with a new world market via increased subsidization of education, especially college.

Turns out it's a globalization revolution, after all.

Posted by: David Glynn at January 8, 2004 01:07 PM | PERMALINK

Sigh. Once again, human history is remarkably resistant to this kind of scientistic formulation.

There is nothing inherent about history that requires a liberal/conservative cycle. Past performance is no guarantee of the future. I see no reason to assume that liberal ideas will come back in fashion or, vice versa, that conservative ones will dominate for the next twenty years.

The path history takes is not inevitable, folks. It is contingent. There is no goal, good will not triumph, nor will evil. Nor is there progress in the sense that progress is commonly meant. The variables that create history are far too complex for these kinds of oversimplified formulations. Their attraction to this country's present leaders is one of the reasons we are in such extreme danger right now.

Posted by: tristero at January 8, 2004 01:12 PM | PERMALINK

For the next wave to be technology-driven, the technology has to have been in place for long enough that the general population has a chance to see its consequences.

For the next wave, I think the technology was the Internet, and the wave will be about protecting Americans from the effects of globalization - not just the economic effects, but also the national security issues. It encompasses alot of the stuff that other people have said:

--Fair trade (as opposed to free trade)
--Global environmentalism
--Privacy rights
--Off-shoring white collar jobs
--Reducing the security risks from inbound shipping

We're not likely to get Universal Health Care out of this wave, although I'm encouraged by the fact that the AMA recently signed on to the idea. I think that will wait until the new biotechnologies have been around long enough to impact more people.

Posted by: Kascade Kat at January 8, 2004 01:15 PM | PERMALINK

The next Progressive movement will be centered around the concept of Social Responsibility.

What issue is most problematic for most State governors and legislators? Budgets. Revenues failing to meet expenses. Why? Because the conservatives and libertarians have successfully convinced enough people that government is an UNnecessary evil because a prosperous individual's rights are paramount to the society which made that prosperity possible. The current crop of Democratic leadership doesn't counter with the rhetorical loser that government is a necessary evil, but that's the corner that the right's rhetoric has painted them into.

The new Progressive movement of Social Responsibility must embrace and proclaim the truth that government is a necessary GOOD.

Why is the U.S. the only technologically advanced nation in the world without universal healthcare? Because of the right's successful efforts to convince enough people that government is wasteful, inefficient, and morally repugnant. Why, we reason, would we want to expand the evil thing, and expand the evilness of taxes, through a form of national healthcare for all?

The coming Social Responsibility Movement must overcome the right's base premises with clarity and truth before it can have any hope of passing universal healthcare.

What issue has most Progressives deeply concerned about long-term viability of this world on behalf of our grandchildren? The environment. The coming Social Responsibility Movement must embrace the new way of responsibly factoring in environmental concerns as a cost of doing business in a truly free market, without generational subsidy from our decendents.

The battle lines of the past 30 years between liberals and conservatives have been drawn on the foundational premise of the rights and primacy of individual versus the societal needs.

Someone earlier here wrote that the new Progressive Movement might come from the left-libertarians. I agree. In 1934, Albert Einstein wrote a very short left-libertarian essay on the balance between the rights of the individual versus society's needs. Here is a link to that particular bit of wisdom:

Posted by: Keanu Reeves (no, really) at January 8, 2004 01:19 PM | PERMALINK

Count me as another person agreeing with Tim, at least on identifying the problem (though I'm less than hopeful that a progressive revolution will change anything). Perhaps I'm too much a child of the 60s (though born a bit late for it -- 1966) but I am taken aback when everyone, including liberals, responds to such human-spirit-enriching, abstract-knowledge-expanding notions as putting human beings on Mars with "But how will that make money for us? We shouldn't go there until someone can make a profit from it." Worship of the whore-god has made us lose our soul.

Posted by: eyelessgame at January 8, 2004 01:22 PM | PERMALINK

The liberal eruptions occur when the need for change enters the popular mind gradually but forcefully, and appeals to common sense.

Thus: this time around it's sustainable energy. Because we have to.

It's already begun. People recycle - at home and at work - and use public transport out of habit. Big business is beginning to catch on, and the result will be transformative.

Posted by: ryan b at January 8, 2004 01:29 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps it will be the idea that people of all races ought to be treated without respect to their race in all government dealings.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at January 8, 2004 01:33 PM | PERMALINK

Fascinating topic, excellent posts ..

O.K., my two cents:

Global environmentalism, which will infiltrate the U.S. via either universal healthcare (everyone will discover the sudden increase autism is due to the interaction of several different pollutants, or something) or some environmental 9/11 event, along the lines of Arizona/New Mexico losing all their water because they finally drained the underlying water table or the Mississippi cutting a new course for itself due to global warming.

This will tie into international events in some form, although I can't predict just how at the moment. I do think America's idiosyncratic and isolationist traditions means the same issue will manifest itself here wearing a local label, but it will be international in scope for two reasons -- one, technology and the Internet; two, because environmental issues affect us all.

I wish globalization/fair trade were the issue, but the truth is that the economics of that is muddled, except for the not-exactly-news that the IMF has no idea what it's doing and apparently economies do better if their governments ignore all international intellectual property protection & patents. Not a revelation calculated to trigger a wave of liberalism by itself.

I also wish the issue will be transparency, and it might be in places accustomed to complete corruption. Today, however, systems are so complex, that even if they're transparent you still have to learn a great deal just to understand how they work.

Posted by: Diana at January 8, 2004 01:35 PM | PERMALINK

If half of what you folks are speculating/hoping might happen actually occurred the result might be a society wherein the big daily complaint would be, "I have awakened, and the government isn't here to help me get up, wipe my ass, and light my doobie." For those of you in college, trust me--the majority of the country doesn't think like you and your "buds." Most of this post reminds me of my blissful college days, when flights of fancy posed as sober reflection.

Posted by: DBW at January 8, 2004 01:36 PM | PERMALINK


Come on. Those are just the reference points. Of course there probably won't be nor need to be any continuity, it's just hard to talk about without terms.


History is littered with examples of state powers subverting public movements and I think either it's going to get real, real ugly, or a lot better- it certainly can't stay the current course. I can quite seriously imagine the US becoming sort of a world corporate hub, using its power, brutally if need be, to secure economic dominance, and I can see the US public backing it 100%. Rampant, wild-eyed, ignorant nationalism could make this country the worst scourge the earth has ever seen.

Or- maybe most people are good and will start to realize that in order to care for people halfway across the world you need to help them, and to help them you may have to change society a bit.


Yeah, one of the worst/best things to happen to this country was the science of marketing. I mean, it's hard to imagine that up till the 40s and 50s children basically weren't marketed to. It's shameful that people think of everything in terms of money- as if money isn't a creation of man and merely a tool but rather the "natural" order-er of the universe. Make sense?

We made it up, it only exists in our imagination, yet it's treated like water or air.

Posted by: Tim at January 8, 2004 01:36 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps it will be the idea that people of all races ought to be treated without respect to their race in all government dealings.

Perhaps it will be the realization that for hundreds and hundreds of years the world was brutally ordered by nation and then race and the consequences of that are still present today.

Posted by: Tim at January 8, 2004 01:39 PM | PERMALINK

I was insufficiently enthusiastic. Tim has hit the nail squarely on the head. I've reproduced his article (without permission) on my livejournal, and if he objects I will reluctantly take it down. But this deserves way more notice and more people should see it.

Posted by: eyelessgame at January 8, 2004 01:41 PM | PERMALINK

kevin, i assume that you have read The Fourth Turning by Strauss and Howe which describes these cycles in depth. i would recommend this book highly to your readers. while i'm not entirely coninced, it's quite a compelling read.

Posted by: scott at January 8, 2004 01:50 PM | PERMALINK

Noting how embarassingly wrong these things often turn out to be I'll give it a try:

On the economic front:
E-trading and the web will lead an empowered class of individual investors and organized employee/shareholders to demand greater input in corporate board rooms. The net effect will be to staunch escalating Executive compensation and shift the risk burden off of labour and back on to capital. Organized share-holding employees will be the "new labour movement."

On the Social front:
Civil rights will columnate with a PC-backlash-backlash and gays will go from icky, to cool to boring.
With the increasing number of gay marriages, an interesting side effect will be an increase in adoptions in the entire population as aging hetero newly weds increasingly shun fertility treatments.

On the enviromental front:
Sometihng will finaly give. Increased oil prices coupled with improved technology will spark an alternative energy boom. this will only truly take off when young companies begin to harness the latest most efficient solar panels/wind farms/geothermal doodads for energy at attractive profit margins.
Coupled with this will be increased agitation for even higher environmental standards that will spell the death knell for the oil economy.

On the foreign affairs front:
The synergy of globalization and national interest will lead to a new era of internationalism. Liquified Natural Gas will make securing West African reserves a top priority. This coupled with rapacious need for up-stream labour by aging developed countries will lead to a new era of involvment in the developing world.
A whole new generation of young bright Americans will leave home (much like young Brits of a previous era), equal parts diplomat/entrepeneur/adenturer to help develop industry/civic society in the third world. A corresponding shift in emphasis by the U.S. to its cultural power will help ensure U.S. pre-eminence on the global stage in the face of rising challengers India and China.

This ended up just being my wish list for the future, but hey it could happen.

Posted by: WillieStyle at January 8, 2004 01:52 PM | PERMALINK

Oh and universal healthcare.
That one is pretty much inevitable.

Posted by: WillieStyle at January 8, 2004 01:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Can we please discuss all this theory & philosophy sometime after Nov. 2? In the meantime, there's a lot of work to do. For now, the big issue has to be getting Bush out of the White House."
No, we definitely cannot wait to have this discussion in a more convenient future time. Thinking in the long term about what kind of society we want is the only way we can get to where we want to be. If you want to remove Bush, you want to do it because you don't agree with his vision for our nation. Liberals can't just complain about the conservative vision for America, they have to offer a better one.

Posted by: Another Bruce at January 8, 2004 01:54 PM | PERMALINK

nobody in 1950 could have predicted that

Uh, Thurgood Marshall and Earl Warren did...

Posted by: praktike at January 8, 2004 01:55 PM | PERMALINK

E-trading and the web will lead an empowered class of individual investors and organized employee/shareholders to demand greater input in corporate board rooms.

I doubt that. The real power will continue to lie with the pension managers, mutual funds, etc. I seriously doubt individual investors will ever be a large enough, coordinated enough, or sympathetic enough to make a big dent.

Maybe I'm wrong though, Home depot apparently has much more earth-friendly wood now thanks to shareholders (but of course institutional ones mainly).


Uh... OK. Not my finest work but... thanks!

Posted by: Tim at January 8, 2004 01:57 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to think it will be personal freedoms, legalization, and such,(I would support these) but I suspect it will be either the resumation of the 60's movement (with health care nationalization to "finish" what medicare/caid started) or something mirroring Teddy Roosevelt's trustbusting - some sort of reform of what it means to be an incorporated entity in this country. That could involve reform of corporate rights/taxation, intellectual property and copyright, increased regulation of multinationals and the internet, that sort of thing.

Either that, or it will be an "individualization" of government services, where the existing liberal programs are changed to allow a more a la carte, customized usage. This could involve school vouchers (delivering appropriate education to each child), a mixed private/public retirement scheme (social security accounts with federally guaranteed minimum payouts and/or controls on portfolio choice), health care reform(delivering a nationalized health care program which more resembles real insurance with catastrophic coverage, with tax-free PSA's to catch the rest and vouchers for the poor replacing employer provision), and so forth. This would, of course, be a "liberal" movement eminating from the Republicans.

It is, in fact, more or less what Bush meant by Compassionate Conservativism, but it is truely liberal and progressive in the old sense of the word, before liberal and progressive meant "defending the status quo government programs and public education system" - that is, before liberals became conservative.

Posted by: rvman at January 8, 2004 01:57 PM | PERMALINK

Initially, I would say healthcare since the boomers are getting old but I don't see that as a movement persay.

"ver, my guess is that the next big progressive wave will be driven by some kind of major technological trend."

I agree and the likely scenario will be a security vs privacy.

Posted by: Ryan at January 8, 2004 01:57 PM | PERMALINK

oh, prediction:

distributed electric generation.

Posted by: praktike at January 8, 2004 01:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Why is the U.S. the only technologically advanced nation in the world without universal healthcare? "

Simple, the nations that have this government service are dying, mainly in Europe, but Japan too.

Sad fact, but socialized doctors kill their nations.

Posted by: Matt Young at January 8, 2004 01:59 PM | PERMALINK

Something along the lines of a shift away from cash value as the only value would be my guess. This relates directly to the idea that the government is us, not them - I think that has to happen also.

But people are talking about this like history unrolls in waves - it doesn't. It moves in fits and starts, and nothing is going to happen until there is a big, big disruption. On the order of a depression, or a war (a real one, not a made-up one), or a huge public health crisis, or a big environmental catastrophe, or a right-wing takeover of the government (I'm not kidding, I'd say there is a 30% chance of that happening in the next 10 years).

Something that gets people off the couch and reminds them that they are all connected. Like last year's power failure, but lasting months, or even years.

Posted by: craigie at January 8, 2004 02:03 PM | PERMALINK

Sad fact, but socialized doctors kill their nations.

Matt, you really, really need to look up the word "fact" in the dictionary.

Posted by: Tim at January 8, 2004 02:08 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, if only Americans would know how badly state-sanctioned universal health care is working in Europe! Don't believe the hype, supported by anti-American Euros...

Posted by: Finnpundit at January 8, 2004 02:09 PM | PERMALINK
E-trading and the web will lead an empowered class of individual investors and organized employee/shareholders to demand greater input in corporate board rooms.

I doubt that. The real power will continue to lie with the pension managers, mutual funds, etc. I seriously doubt individual investors will ever be a large enough, coordinated enough, or sympathetic enough to make a big dent.

WIth the increase in e-trading and spiders, the fungibility of mutual funds will become apparrent. With impetus from the gov't, an apparatus can easily be created to allow investors to switch funds. Mutual funds will then have to work harder to attract volume. One major selling point will become voting records on corporate governance issues.

A more radical alternative is that "organized labor" will morph into organized "labor/investors" as workers pool their investments to creat their own mutual funds. At the margins their influence could be huge.

Posted by: WillieStyle at January 8, 2004 02:12 PM | PERMALINK

I think that Vietnam and Watergate terminated the 60's liberal movement. Hear me out. It is true that Watergate discredited the Republicans for several years, and thus should have helped Democrats and thus liberals. However, they also caused people to trust government less, and to learn to listen with skepticism to what government told them. This made it hard to justify and pass new government programs - no one would have asked in the mid '60s, "Who benefits?" about medicare and medicaid. Obviously it was "the poor and elderly". Today we would say "It is welfare for doctors, who will get huge amounts of money from the government." This skepticism was reinforced by liberals, but it stopped the progress of big government.

Liberal Dem LBJ was followed by liberal Republican Nixon (price controls, raised minimum wage, and a ton of other new programs). This came to a crashing halt with the election of the Conservative(for his party)...Jimmy Carter. Carter deregulated Airlines. Carter proposed few new big government programs. Carter spoke of moral virtues. Carter appointed a Fed chief who ended easy money. Carter was, of course, followed by conservative Reagan, caretaker Bush I, center-right(for his party) Clinton(welfare reform, NAFTA, etc.), and now "compassionate conservative" Bush II. I suggested in the last post that Bush's Compassionate Conservativism was a potential "new liberalism" - 25 years is long enough after Watergate for the effects of that to be fading, right?

Bush is crusading for freedom and democracy worldwide. (see Wilson, FDR, JFK) Read sometime what the far right says about neocons. "Trotskyite" is the most common comment.

His immigration reform is more from the liberal playbook than the conservative. (Remember, conservative "know-nothings" and "America Firsters" have been the opponents of immigration historically.) Immigration has been a Bush theme for a long time. He advocated an amnesty back when he was governor. (The Texas Republican party has long been pro-immigration and pro-Hispanic. It is the California party which has been so strongly anti-immigrant and anti-hispanic.)

It is a Republican governor of New Mexico who became the first sitting elected figure to advocate legalization of drugs. Might Bush go along? Maybe not. But a successor might.

So sayeth the libertarian.

Posted by: rvman at January 8, 2004 02:15 PM | PERMALINK

Along the lines of Praktike above, I think it'll be Localization and 'low-impact practises'. By which I mean people will begin to take more personal responisibility for their actions. We're already seeing in with people taking themselves 'off-the-grid,' hy-brid cars, and an increase in the support of locally grown produce and the like. Not quite as flashy as marching on Washington, but it has potentially fan-reaching consequences.

Posted by: SlantyOD at January 8, 2004 02:15 PM | PERMALINK

What I always find interesting about the wild extremes "liberalism" gets taken to by some people is how little regard they seem to have for people in general. It seems they think everyone would be a fat, lazy bastard if we all didn't have to fight each other for a slice of pie.

DBW's is the only one here, I think, but man, if tomorrow I woke up in a nation that, for some reason, I didn't have to work, I would be three times as busy as I am now.

Man, if for some reason no one had to work for a wage I would do nothing but make films and write and do sketch comedy all the time.

I'm not advocating such a world, I'm just pointing out that a social contract can release people's energy and creativity too, money is not the only, nor even the best motivator at all times. A social contract doesn't mean everyone is going to lay down and never get up.

Posted by: Tim at January 8, 2004 02:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Sad fact, but socialized doctors kill their nations.

Matt, you really, really need to look up the word "fact" in the dictionary."

Well, Tim, we always go back to the data, which I am sure you have looked at, but once again here is the link:

Which shows quite clearly that the modern nations with the highest social welfare spending are dying at the fastest rate.

Italy, one of the most socialized, will have about 1/4 to 1/8 of its population, (minus immigration) in 50 years.

It is in fact true that socialized medicine wipes out nations faster than any other known cause.

Posted by: Matt Young at January 8, 2004 02:20 PM | PERMALINK

My parents are boomers, and I love them. That being said, saying that healthcare becoming an even more major issue due to the retiring boomers and the Social Security crisis is, IMO, like predicting that the sun will rise. We're in for a very bumpy ride as far as that's concerned. The medical system is in a state of malfunction and breakdown as it is - I shudder to think about what's going to happen in the next 10 - 20 years. If the general public understood how bad things are now and how bad they're going to get, there would be riots in the streets. Fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you want to look at it, most people can't be bothered to think about who's going to be changing their cathethers in a few years and how they're going to pay for it.

I agree that we're due for another leftward swing of the pendulum, but it might take another 10, 15, maybe even 20 years. I'm hoping it'll take much less.

Major shifts I forsee: definitely in medicine (I predict lots of big things happening in cloning and medical applications of nanotech) and possibly in the breakdown of traditional media due to current and as-yet-unseen applications of the Internet.

Crystal ball gazing is fun!

Posted by: Rumblelizard at January 8, 2004 02:21 PM | PERMALINK

"As a progressive Republican, I do have to add that your first progressive era began with Teddy Roosevelt. Wilson carried it from there, but TR put the ball in motion."

"A very good point. I was listening last weekend while on the road to a NPR report that described how TR, after reading The Jungle by Sinclair Lewis, pushed Congress hard to enact laws to regulate the meat packing industry."

Ironically enough, Upton Sincalir (not Sinclair Lewis) wrote The Jungle in order to draw attention to the terrible labor conditions in the meat packing industry. Instead, he ignited what was probably the first consumer protection frenzy. alot of the progressive movement reforms were like this, in that they expanded consolidated and enacted middle class values through legislation. As such, they were, from the point of view of what we expect from progressives now, often a mixed bag. Definitely better than lassaiz faire capitalism for the average worker, but also guranteed to maintain the status quo class divisions.

I'd agree thqt TR is much more the progressive icon here than Wilson, at least in terms of national politics. Internationally, these poles might be reversed. Before we drown either of them in praise it should be noted that both were pretty regressive on issues of race, especially Wilson.


Posted by: Urk at January 8, 2004 02:26 PM | PERMALINK


Declining fertility rates does not equal "dying".

Also, I once saw a study that concluded coke caused tiburculosis, or something, because when outbreaks were rampant there was always a corresponding rise in the consumption of coke...

You still desperately need a dictionary.

Posted by: Tim at January 8, 2004 02:28 PM | PERMALINK
Which shows quite clearly that the modern nations with the highest social welfare spending are dying at the fastest rate.

No, in fact, it does not. A handful of cherry-picked data points at a single slice of time doesn't prove a thing.

It is in fact true that socialized medicine wipes out nations faster than any other known cause.

Which nation, exactly, has ever been wiped out by sociaized medicine?

Posted by: cmdicely at January 8, 2004 02:29 PM | PERMALINK

Distributed electric generation is occuring already, and is a market phenomenon, not a liberal or conservative one. It is part of the technology revolution, more analagous to the motor-vehicle popularization of the 20's, or the computer revolution of the 90's. I suspect in 50 years the idea that everyone got their power from fossil fuel-based centralized plants will seem ludicrous. Nukes, geo, hydro, and wind will provide power to larger companies/neighborhoods, while farms, residences and smaller businesses will FINALLY be on solar. Autos and aircraft will be the last to transition from fossil fuels, but even they will probably be on some kind of battery power ultimately - trucks and buses first, then cars, then aircraft, which really must have something lightweight, which we aren't even close to, yet. (Hydrogen is too dangerous, too hard to contain, and too messy.)

Posted by: rvman at January 8, 2004 02:30 PM | PERMALINK

The big "new" thing of the last few years was globalism and interdependence.

What tagged along with that was the rise of multinational corporations.

Globalism means, to many, an increase of world homogenization. And for those who would make a distinction, homogenization in a bad way.

I think the next big thing will be a rebellion against that. Not a rebellion against globalization, but against homogenization.

It'll be an effort to retain diverse culture, even as these diverse cultures become exposed to the world. Right now having a diverse culture that is private and then exposed to the world goes along with a judgment that that culture will then be diluted.

It's that dilution that will be resisted.

So we'll see more "sister country" efforts, more culture trading programs, more culture awareness efforts, more efforts to increase human rights in certain cultures without changing what makes their culture their culture.

Business wise it will involve more decentralized businesses. A particularly crafty multinational will take advantage of it by creating a "Made in xxx" world franchise, so wherever you go, the company will feel different and reflect the culture of the area, but still feel strangely familiar to every other "Made in xxx" store you've ever been to.

Ultimately people will be pushing for globalization that is like the net. Open standards to allow for easy communication, movement, and travel, but regions using those standards to express themselves however they want.

In other words I think it will be "equality without sameness" that will be the next great liberal movement.

Posted by: Curt in OR at January 8, 2004 02:31 PM | PERMALINK

Where did those numbers come from anyway?

Posted by: Rumblelizard at January 8, 2004 02:32 PM | PERMALINK

". Of course there probably won't be nor need to be any continuity, it's just hard to talk about without terms."

I disagree, Tim. It's even harder to talk about if the question is poorly or inaccurately framed. To talk in terms of cycles and inevitability to is to make a basic error about the nature of history, namely to confuse it with a physical process where the inputs and outputs can be predicted with some measure of accuracy.

History cannot be predicted, except in trivial instances, a point not only made by me but by respected polisci folks, like Raymond Aron. Hence, the unfolding of history is the enemy of ideology; in the long run, it will always prove wingers on all sides of an issue wrong. To approach history in any other way but as a contingency strikes me as worrisome: one starts talking about the "triumph of communism" or the "inevitable spread of democracy once Saddam is out" and other such nonsense.

Better to recognize that history is always changing and mutating in unexpected ways than to talk about cycles of ideology or "progress," which is meaningless.There IS no end of history, pace Fukuyama.

To talk about human history as a chaotic and complicated sequence rather than as the unfolding of a process strikes me as plain commonsense. It leads to practical solutions, such as alternative approaches to an imminent environment catastrophe, rather than grandiose delusions, such as eradicating evil from the world, or World Peace.

Posted by: tristero at January 8, 2004 02:32 PM | PERMALINK

Curt: What you say may well happen. It is, however, a CONSERVATIVE phenomenon - protecting the status quo mix of culture, jobs, identities, etc.

Posted by: rvman at January 8, 2004 02:33 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with the posts that healthcare could become the next big thing, particularly as ballooning costs due to market-defeating events (a mix of cheating, insurance fraud, price collusion, monopoly, government subsidies to drugmakers, etc.) start putting some previously-expected treatments and prescription drugs out of the range of larger numbers of citizens.

And some of the other issues mentioned, like sustainable energy, I think will simply happen over time due to technological trends and societal and market forces without necessarily becoming "the next big liberal thing". Witness the appearance of hybrid vehicles and their associated coolness factor with many people as the beginning of that trend. Others mentioned, like transparency of government, I'd love to see become big issues but I don't believe for a second that they will.

But I see another possibility, which has been only briefly mentioned in this thread before. I see it as possibly the next big progressive thing, because it's both consumer-driven and because it will draw the libertarian element of the conservatives as well: control of media. What's most important about it is that the vast majority of the controls are being enacted as we speak, under the political radar of nearly everyone.

Examples that already exist:
There's no recording inputs on any modern consumer audio equipment, like MP3 players or portable CD devices. Remember portable cassette recorders? Why don't we have them? Behind the scenes industry pressure (on equipment manufacturers) from groups afraid it would lead to piracy, and efforts are underway to make audio and recording equipment of any sort require government-mandated but industry-designed encryption protection.

DVDs purchased in one country that can't be played in another, not because there's any technical reason, but so that the publisher can game the price market better. The law already makes it illegal to defeat this. Dems and Republicans both should be opposed to this, as it defeats both consumer rights and market economics.

We are rapidly headed towards a world where you can't record the programs off your digital HDTV line, you can't skip the commercials embedded in your DVDs and in your music, you have to pay for every TV program you watch or song you listen to, every time. Academic research and derivative art involving old media won't be possible because copyrights will never expire. The software and data you can put on your computer will be controlled by the manufacturer, via the internet (google "Microsoft Palladium"). Public libraries may cease to exist in their current form, because they allow consumers to use media without paying the one-time rental fee. TiVo-type devices that may let you record a program, but only let you watch it once, and prevent fast-forwarding during the ads.

These conjectures sound totally crazy, but the fact is half or more of the laws needed for this to happen have already been passed. Reduction of competition in the media space via mergers can make it impossible for consumers to vote with their pocketbook: you can't choose to buy the less annoying technology when only one option exists.

Anyway, because it's all happening so much under the political radar (really only the slashdot set seems to be aware of it, for the most part), most of this will come to pass. The question is whether at some point a huge consumer-privacy backlash happens down the road, or whether citizens go along with it.

Posted by: IdahoEv at January 8, 2004 02:36 PM | PERMALINK

Tristero: Maybe we should call them "Waves" rather than cycles. Like waves, progress often moves in patterns, but occasionally a rogue wave or tsunami of change will come along and completely tear things apart and cause everything to be chaotic for a while. One wave never is quite the same as another, and though they can be seen when close, you can't be quite sure what the next one will bring on to the beach.

Posted by: rvman at January 8, 2004 02:38 PM | PERMALINK


OK. But you're critiquing the terms of the debate without critiquing any of the debate. I mean, if you're point is "this is a pointless conversation" just say so.


Distributed electricy is a market phenomenon like a cotton grower getting $80,000 a year from the government is a market phenomenon. "The market" has not provided low enough prices on wind or solar power to make it competitive with coal, natural gas, etc.

Wind power farms only exist due to government subsidies, solar power for housing doesn't normally pop up except in places that offer tax rebates.

It's a load of shit that you're shoveling. Green energy relies upon government and wouldn't exist as much as it does without it.

Posted by: Tim at January 8, 2004 02:45 PM | PERMALINK

I think that progressive wave or waves in this country will, inevitably, bring about the following:

1. Universal health care
2. Elimination of religion from public policy decisions
3. End of the death penalty outside of contexts of war

I think these are inevitable, because they are all features of virtually all industrialized democracies, with the depressing exception of the US. And there is precisely NO sign that any of those other democracies are likely to change in those ways. For some things, the arrow of time goes only one way, and these would be among them.

Posted by: frankly0 at January 8, 2004 02:48 PM | PERMALINK


"The shelving of the energy bill until next year may hurt the wind power industry by making an extension of its tax credit uncertain, an industry group said on Wednesday.
A 3-year extension of the wind credit, which pays developers 1.8 cents for every kilowatt-hour of wind energy they produce, had been included in the energy bill. The credit is set to expire on Dec. 31.

The world's top wind turbine maker Vestas Group put off its decision to build a wind turbine plant in Portland, Oregon, this year because of the uncertainty of the credit.

The tax break, first approved in 1994, has sometimes suffered months-long gaps, most recently in 2001, when it expired ahead of Congressional renewal.

Wind industry backers say the gaps have created a roller coaster in U.S. wind production growth because companies become fearful of investing in the alternative energy source. They say the tax-break gaps hamper wind power growth in the United States which grew last year at a rate of only 10 percent compared to global growth of 28 percent."

"Market forces" that ain't.

Posted by: Tim at January 8, 2004 02:52 PM | PERMALINK

The biggest underlying change in American society over the past 20 years has been the rise of the computer and information technology. It's intruded into every aspect of our society - business, politics, education, health care, personal and family relationships, entertainment. We now, much more than ever before, understand the value of information.

The next progressive movement will broadly encompass the attempts of the American public to reclaim information from individuals and organizations who are hoarding it. This struggle can be roughly divided into two subtopics:

  1. Privacy: Individuals reclaiming control over their own information. Privacy issues include identity theft, financial and health-care information, biometrics, workplace drug-testing, closed-circuit cameras, abortion, telemarketing and spam e-mails.
  2. Transparency: Individuals getting more information from organizations. Transparency issues include better corporate and political accounting, open decision-making and control, clearer foreign policy, more local action, less waste, public funding of elections, open-source software, securing borders.

Placing more information in the hands of individuals leads to a more network-centric, less top-down society. Decision-making is spread out to more people. Control is less in the hands of elites and more in the hands of everyone, without sacrificing efficiency. Mass production becomes mass customization, not just in goods, but in everything.

This is not to say that there won't be fights over issues from previous "liberalism waves." But they'll be less cutting-edge, because the intellectual tools and metrics to discuss those issues already exist. For instance, regardless of how they feel about rights for homosexuals, most Americans know how those battles, in the long term, will eventually come out. But we have only incomplete conceptual frameworks on privacy and transparency issues. The boundaries are unclear, and the American public as yet lacks a clear common understanding.

Posted by: Kenneth Fair at January 8, 2004 02:57 PM | PERMALINK

You're all wrong. It will be immigration. Before 9-11 the big thing was negotiating special rights for Mexicans in the US, now Bush is looking at "immigration reform" again. I suspect you'll see an opening of borders. The first stirrings of this can already be seen in Europe with the European Union. One of the most obvious benefits for the average citizen has been the ease of traveling across borders, for either recreation, or work.

With the US becoming increasingly a multi-ethnic country, I suspect we'll see increasing liberalization of the immigration laws. This will only accelerate as it becomes clear that the currency of the new economy isn't mineral wealth, but a strong supply of workers and consumers to power a modern economy.

Posted by: Patrick Rogers at January 8, 2004 03:00 PM | PERMALINK

Matt - the proximate cause of the population loss in the industrialized world is declining birthrates. The same phenomenon would be observed in the US were it not for the constant immmigration of people from cultures which aren't experiencing the phenomenon.

You've pointed out a correlation between declining birthrates and government spending; do you have a theory which can explain the correlation? Or are you just asserting that the correlation proves a causal link, without a chain of evidence to back it up?

Posted by: aphrael at January 8, 2004 03:08 PM | PERMALINK


He's asserting his insanity.

Posted by: Tim at January 8, 2004 03:10 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody has a clue what the world will look like, or what changes will dominate events, 10 years from now, to say nothing of 20 or 50. I may as well attempt to predict the high temperature in Topeka on March 22, 2014, or that, in October 2014, the Cubs will defeat the Red Sox in the bottom of the ninth of the 7th game of the World Series, when a descendent of Babe Ruth hits a towering shot out on Waveland Avenue, after first pointing his bat in that direction. Hell will then be declared frozen over, the first American Pope will retire to Sun City, Arizona, and the Vatican will enter into a marketing/operations contract with Disney.

Posted by: Will Allen at January 8, 2004 03:12 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't have time to read all the comments, but even those relating to "universal health care", government being corrupted by corporate interests," etc., are all symptomatic of a fundamental change in the societal and economic makeup of the United States. That is the slow, steady erosion of the "middle class."

When the majority of citizens wakes up (hopefully) to the long-term agenda (which is hardly hidden) of the emerging oligarchy, particularly the fundamental shift of taxation from a combination of wealth and income (earned and unearned) to primarily a system taxing earned income, exacerbated by significant cuts in services and programs that the middle class enjoys (like decent public schools, libraries, public safety, roads, bridges and other infrastructure, not to mention what's left of entitlements) there may indeed be hell to pay.

Corporate America's apparent solution for enabling America to compete with third world nations in a global economy is to turn us into a modern third world nation, replete with all the trappings, i.e., a "two-class society" propped up with benign repression.

Posted by: Richard at January 8, 2004 03:14 PM | PERMALINK

wow, you guys/gals are certainly optimistic.

my guess for the next big progressive issue is lifting the (first localized then extended nationally) martial law that will be imposed after the next significant domestic terrorist attack.

/adjusts tin foil

Posted by: danelectro at January 8, 2004 03:21 PM | PERMALINK

I read an article a couple of years ago - for the life of me I can't remember where, maybe somebody out there can find it - that put forward the proposition that at the turn of the century the central problem in this country was the control of states by corporations. This was the era of the Robber Barons, the rise of the Seven Sisters, the astonishing power of the railroads and so on. In reaction we got the Progressive movement and the development of federal institutions to control these business entities and prevent them from playing states off of each other or concentrating their power regionally. The author posited that since the end of the 2nd World War, we have seen the rise of multinational corporations that do to nations what earlier business entities did to the states here. This author believed it was going to be necessary for us to develop international institutions to control these new, larger, and more powerful corporations. At least the western industrialized countries were going to have to work out treaties or institutions in order to regain control over these entities.

I believe this view is essentially correct and that the next wave of liberalism, maybe more properly called the next incarnation of the progressive movement, will be driven by the need of the people around the world to develop the international means to offset the enormous power and wealth being created by global trade and being concentrated in the hands of the multinational corporations. International trade is a general good, but we need international standards for environmental and occupational safety issues and then we need to enforce them. Workers overseas need to be protected and trade needs to be managed so that our standard of living in the industrialized countries isn't gutted. And I think the internet will be the means that allows people around the world to organize and coordinate their activities.

I think an essential part of this battle will be for us here in the States to get a serious and far-reaching overhaul of our election process. It seems to me that basically every problem we have that we all complain about out here on the Left - from the degradation of environmental regulations to jobs disappearing overseas to the consolidation of the media in the hands of a few to mega-mergers in so many industries - boils down to the fact that no politician at the federal or state level can run a credible campaign anymore without buckets of money. It is impossible for the political process to not be corrupted. All the other issues we argue about are peripheral to this one. We are not going to make any progress in any area until we are able to elect people who will make decisions based on what is best for the commonwealth (now there's a word from our radical past) and not what's best for their campaign contributors.

Kevin, like a good Californian, I'm waiting to ride the next wave.

Posted by: lucienc at January 8, 2004 03:24 PM | PERMALINK
2. Elimination of religion from public policy decisions

Unless it involves either (a) elimination of religion entirely, or (b) elimination of all moral rather than ritual aspects of religion, I will state rather confidently that religion will not ever be eliminated from some role in policy debates and decisions.

Posted by: cmdicely at January 8, 2004 03:28 PM | PERMALINK

It will go back to the 19th Century progressive era's "good government" focus:

Direct election of the President.

Public financing of elections.

Voting by internet.

Reinvigoration of anti-trust laws and enforcement.

Posted by: Hesiod at January 8, 2004 03:29 PM | PERMALINK

aphrael says:

"You've pointed out a correlation between declining birthrates and government spending; do you have a theory which can explain the correlation? "

Well there are two part to this question. First, the correlation is very high, regardless of causality, so that when Dean says he wants us to be more like Europe in our social welfare spending, then with a very high probability, Dean wants our population to die, like Europe. Or in other words, there is a very low probability that a governor from Vermont can make work what sophisticated Europeans have not been able to make work.

Second, a very plausable theory is simple. The very folks who pay for high levels of government also happen to be the very folks who are trying to work and raise families. In case you are not familiar with economies, workers, in the age brackets that also raise families happen to also take the fewest government services and pay almost all the cost.

In fact, a sort of reverse Darwinism takes place, as many testimonies on this blog point out. Exactly the young and educated who understand the cost of raising educated families are the ones forestalling marriage until they can generate the surplus needed.

The counter argument I will hear is that Italy has to die, for otherwise it will become a Somalia.

Well, what Italy needs to do is reduce social welfare to the point that they move down the data set that says replacement will occur, something Italian politicians (and German politicians and French, Spanish, and English politicians have all stated at one time or another.) In other words, cut the burden on young families.

Now Tim wants his government program, data sets will not deter him. But unfortunately for Tim, we do have data sets that go back over 80 years of modern industrial economies.

Speaking on the topic of immigration:

It turns out that guest workers get a saparate retirement program in all likelihood, probably a 401K style system invested in a Mexican, or home country fund. This sort of brings up an interesting question, can an American citizen register for a guest worker program and have their entitlement taxes placed in a Mexican 401k fund, if the American promises to visit Mexico once in a while? Or will the American worker have to have dual citizenship?

Posted by: Matt Young at January 8, 2004 03:33 PM | PERMALINK
There's no recording inputs on any modern consumer audio equipment, like MP3 players or portable CD devices.

This is not, in fact, true. I've seen plenty of MP3 and MD players with recording inputs. They tend to be more expensive, unsuprisingly, and less compact, also unsurprisingly, and therefore less popular, again, unsurprisingly.

Posted by: cmdicely at January 8, 2004 03:36 PM | PERMALINK
The fundamentalist cycle in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam has been hanging around too long (since the 1970s, I'd say).

The current fundamentalist "cycle" in American Christianity has been hanging around since at least the 19th Century revival movement.

Posted by: cmdicely at January 8, 2004 03:39 PM | PERMALINK

"Likewise, there is probably something simmering below the surface today that will drive the next big progressive era."


The worsening middle-class economic situation is probably the critical issue that will turn things around and lead to a more progressive era. A stable and healthy middle class is what has separated America from other, less successful nations. Too many middle class citizens can't afford healthcare, they are working 2 jobs to stay afloat, their marriages are under stress, and they are finding it difficult to pay for their children's education.

I find it amazing that more affluent GOP types can't grasp the simple concept that their interests would be better served if the underclasses were happy and healthy.

Posted by: peter jung at January 8, 2004 03:45 PM | PERMALINK
First, the correlation is very high, regardless of causality

Really? What precise degree of correlation, and over what universe of countries and time periods? On what objective basis were the countries selected, or did you take the entire set of countries on Earth? What is the source of your data?

Because all I've seen is a handful of countries, apparently from a single moment in time, and apparently handpicked to support the thesis rather than on any geographic, economic, or other basis. There is no basis for a generalization there.

so that when Dean says he wants us to be more like Europe in our social welfare spending, then with a very high probability, Dean wants our population to die, like Europe.

No, because even if there is a chance correlation, if their is no causal link between the variables, there is no reason to think that changing one will change the other.

Second, a very plausable theory is simple.

You mean "hypothesis", not "theory". And, more pedantically, "plausible", not "plausable".

The very folks who pay for high levels of government also happen to be the very folks who are trying to work and raise families.

Really? I suppose you've got data showing that the age with the peak likelihood of having children in the home is at the same age, or nearly so, as the peak age of highest tax burden, right?

In case you are not familiar with economies, workers, in the age brackets that also raise families happen to also take the fewest government services and pay almost all the cost.

Again, the data supporting this assertion is...where? Especially when you consider that services received by the children of those families -- education, child health programs, etc. -- have to be counted as part of what those groups receive.

In fact, a sort of reverse Darwinism takes place, as many testimonies on this blog point out.

The plural of "anecdote" is not "data".

Posted by: cmdicely at January 8, 2004 03:52 PM | PERMALINK

Ethan and Rebecca Blood were very close to my thoughts, and so I quickly skimmed the others, in fear I would lose my train of thought.

I did see "Transparency" and "Healthcare" and "Fair Trade" and "Global Warming" and other singular issues, but those miss the centre target when compared to the History of events Kevin chronologicly recalls-

All to often I, and others who think like I do blame greedy Corporations for the ills that corrupt Republican conservatives and Liberal democrats alike.

They, and I are dead wrong.

It is not the Corporations fault whatsoever. (WHATTT!!!!! )

Thats right.

It isn't.

The Corporations are playing by the rules Government has set for them.

It is our Government's fault for singularly defining that rule where a publicly traded Corporation is only beholden to shareholders.

I believe conservative and liberal Political Science in this country will eventually realize and agree on a set of rules that Corporations must abide by, in order to do business with the United States, regardless if their origin is in or outside the United States.

When a corporation and/or small business (where many corporations are borne from) is beholden equally to it's employees (community), it's environment (community), and it's Government (community), REGARDLESS where that Corporation does business (global community), you will then see a leveling of the playing field, which will bring about great cultural change, which Kevin describes as a "Big Progressive Era"

Significant change in the rules of the game for Corporations cannot occur soon enough, and folks much more schooled in the area of Corporate ethics than I, are needed in Government ASAP, or our asses will be handed to US, Elephant and Donkey alike.

Excellent topic, thanx Mr Drum.

Posted by: rf at January 8, 2004 04:13 PM | PERMALINK

"When medical science was so ineffective that it didn't matter much whether you could see a doctor, people were prepared to do with only the health care they could afford"

This is a very important point. We have to get a handle on cost but that is coming with genetics and better technology (endovascular surgery, angioplasty, microsurgery and nanotechnology). The existing system is collapsing and will not last much longer. We need to do it better than the Europeans but that is possible. The best technology in Europe is probably the Finns.

"Renewable energy and new energy technologies (a final break with the petroleum-based economy)... and ... inevitably, universal, single-payer health care."

Posted by samela at January 8, 2004 11:39 AM

Samela has 2/3 of the answer. The third is nanotechnology and the spinoffs from it.

"Yup, I'm with Kevin: the next wave will be technology driven. I'd hazard a guess that it will be one (or more) of three looming technologies: Bio-medicine/genetic engineering, ubiquitous computing and/or nanotechnology."

Yup. All three will contribute.

"Which shows quite clearly that the modern nations with the highest social welfare spending are dying at the fastest rate."

Matt; this is like saying cemeteries kill people because everyone in them is dead.

The Europeans are dying of old age and the only replacements are Muslims with 14th century social standards. It's going to be ugly when that becomes the last hope of France and Italy. Germany has the Poles. The NY Times had a piece today about East Germans going to Poland for jobs. That has the Germans really scratching their heads.

The US is being reinvented by Hispanic immigrants with social standards similar to the rest of us. If anything, they are more conservative which is why the Bush immigration plan is very bad news for Democrats. The paleo-conservatives are having a fit but the WSJ editorial page is on board.

Liberalism's future is not LBJ or Howard Dean. It's classical liberalism that began in the 19th century and whose best example this century is Teddy Roosevelt. His cousin Franklin was a great president but not very liberal.

First we have to win the war on terrorism but that will happen while these other trends are building steam. Going to be an exciting century even though I'm too old to see more than a bit of it. All the angst about the Patriot Act (what a crappy title) is ill-informed. If you wanted to see a dictator, you're too late; it was Lincoln.

Posted by: Mike K at January 8, 2004 04:17 PM | PERMALINK

Will Allen ever learn?

Posted by: rf at January 8, 2004 04:21 PM | PERMALINK
If anything, they are more conservative which is why the Bush immigration plan is very bad news for Democrats.

Since the Bush immigration plan, as described, is very much unlikely to lead to a significant increase in naturalization -- hence, voting -- of immigrants, that's not why its bad for Democrats.

Since it will help hold down working class wages and keep down the percentage of the workforce that is eligible to vote, it is bad for Democrats.

Posted by: cmdicely at January 8, 2004 04:22 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think health care will be the Next Big Progressive Thing--not on the order of the labor and civil rights movements, anyway. Health care just doesn't have the same emotional oomph; it's gotta be something that angers even people not directly affected.

My vote has to do with religion; people will finally start telling advocates of fundamentalism to buzz off. The words "Shut up, @sshole" will ring in the ears of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and black hat Israelis; priests and their honeys will start taking out civil union licenses; and roving bands of Islamic women will decend on local Committiees for the Suppression of Vice and the Promulagation of Virtue, kick the snot out of them and force them to get real jobs.

And faith-based political power will accordingly bite the dust.

Posted by: Molly, NYC at January 8, 2004 04:22 PM | PERMALINK

My two cents: the conservative swing in our country will last another 15-25 years. It's got a lot of juice left. Angry white men still breed well, and their media is really finding it's strength (jingoism, nationalism)....

With such ideological candy for the masses, apolitical capital will accelerate the shaping of our laws and institutions to favor it, and use the press to sell the idea that tax cuts, rollbacks of labor laws, and outright crony capitalism is in the people's interest. Proposals helping the poor, the middle class, the environment, etc. will be trotted out, while the reality diverges more spectacularly, as capital gets more powerful and bold.

But the contradiction will become too apparent, exacerbated as the globalization pressures make their way up through the labor classes, increasing the returns to capital, minimizing those to an increasingly homonogenized labor class.

Then people will actually demand a government that lives up to the promises made. It won't look any different than other quasi-socialist movements, like Lula coming to power in Brazil, except that productivity is so much higher worldwide that there will really be some gains to redistribute.

So, a quasi-socialist revolution in the US in about 20-25 years, putting us ideologically in the same ballpark as the social democratic nations of the EU.

Posted by: andrew at January 8, 2004 05:14 PM | PERMALINK

"Perhaps it will be the idea that people of all races ought to be treated without respect to their race in all government dealings"

Sebastian: why do conservatives seem so obsessed with race? Are white people really getting screwed over that bad, so as to warrant anti-affirmative action at the center of the platform?

Or do they have a a fundamental, and deeply held committment to justice and fairness, regardless of who is getting harmed?

Posted by: andrew at January 8, 2004 05:22 PM | PERMALINK

End the drug war.

Universal healthcare.

Come to think of it, the former could fund the latter.

Posted by: epistemology at January 8, 2004 05:29 PM | PERMALINK

Tim: I don't doubt that green power is currently a governmental phenomenon. However, whether or not government is involved it is inevitable that sooner or later we will switch away from fossil fuels to nukes and/or "green" power. Coal won't run out any time soon. Oil might, about 50 years down the road. The big worry right now is gas. There is plenty in the middle east and Russia, but gases are hard to transport long distances across water. Local supplies are sufficient for the time being, but get more than 10-20 years out, and extraction starts getting more and more expensive. We may find more supplies, but at the moment, it looks like we will have to deal with higher prices, at minimum, soonish (2020 or so, at minimum). In fact, sufficiently higher prices that CURRENT wind tech starts looking reasonably price-effective on its own merits, and there are solar technologies which look promising. By 2050, technology will have caught up. It stands to reason that we will move toward solar. Fossil fuels are solar - they are plants, which produced energy food through photosynthesis, decomposed with the energy "stored" as gas, black sludge, or rock. It makes sense that we will ultimately move more toward using the "primary" source for the power. (Nukes also, if we ever get fusion under control. We haven't, yet, but we really haven't NEEDED it either. Turn Shell, BP, or some such loose on the problem, with real need, and we might get somewhere.)

If global warming is real and large, then we may need to transition to solar quicker. I would prefer the externality tax approach - tax CO2 emissions equal to the cost of damage they do, calculated as best we can. If fossils are still cost effective, we will use them. If not, industry will look somewhere else. Simple, and government doesn't have to know all the answers to do it. I would claim that regulating a pollutant is a legitimate function of even a moderately free-market government - unless someone can come up with a fair way of privatizing the atmosphere, it is a commons, and needs to have controls on it. Beyond that, I think the market can handle the problems we will run into with fuel supply. We went to fossils, remember, when the whale oil started running low.

Posted by: rvman at January 8, 2004 05:47 PM | PERMALINK

When we survey our lives and endeavors, we soon observe that almost the whole of our actions and desires is bound up with the existence of other human beings. We notice that our whole nature resembles that of the social animals. We eat food that others have produced, wear clothes that others have made, live in houses that others have built. The greater part of our knowledge and beliefs has been communicated to us by other people through the medium of a language which others have created. Without language our mental capacities would be poor indeed, comparable to those of the higher animals; we have, therefore, to admit that we owe our principal
advantage over the beasts to the fact of living in human society. The individual, if left alone from birth, would remain primitive and beastlike in his thoughts and feelings to a degree that we can hardly conceive. The individual is what he is and has the significance that he has not so much in virtue of his individuality, but rather as a member of a great human community, which directs his material and spiritual existence from the cradle to the grave.

A man's value to the community depends primarily on how far his feelings, thoughts, and actions are directed toward promoting the good of his fellows. We call him good or bad according to his attitude in this respect. It looks at first sight as if our estimate of a man depended entirely on his social qualities.

And yet such an attitude would be wrong. It can easily be seen that all the valuable achievements, material, spiritual, and moral, which we receive from society have been brought about in the course of countless generations by creative individuals. Someone once discovered the use of fire, someone the cultivation of edible plants, and someone the steam engine.

Only the individual can think, and thereby create new values for society, nay, even set up new moral standards to which the life of the community conforms. Without creative personalities able to think and judge independently, the upward development of society is as unthinkable as the development of the individual personality without the nourishing soil of the community.

The health of society thus depends quite as much on the independence of the individuals composing it as on their close social cohesion. It has rightly been said that the very basis of Graeco-European-American culture, and in particular of its brilliant flowering in the Italian Renaissance, which put an end to the stagnation of medieval Europe, has been the liberation and comparative isolation of the individual.

--Written by Albert Einstein, 1934

Posted by: Albert Einstein at January 8, 2004 06:07 PM | PERMALINK

Un. Fucking. Believable.

Talk about a pseudo circle jerk.

Without even the weakest attempt to define basic terms. See: "Liberal"; "Progressive".

Not to be pedantic, but y'all got lotsa work to and time's a-wastin'.

Posted by: Tonto at January 8, 2004 06:25 PM | PERMALINK

Allow me to restate my disappointment as a simple question: Is there no one here who can conceive of "progress" (working definition: societal change for the better)without being constrained by the statist paradigm box? Is imagination really in such short supply on the Left? Jeebus Cripes!

Posted by: Tonto at January 8, 2004 06:49 PM | PERMALINK

re: Tim

> "Market forces" that ain't.

Nope, and neither are all the government subsidies for gas and oil.

Posted by: butch at January 8, 2004 06:58 PM | PERMALINK

Equal opportunity for an attractive spouse

Posted by: Heylefty at January 8, 2004 06:59 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I recommend that you find a copy of "Cycles of American History" by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Published in 1986, it makes pretty much the same argument you're making in this post.

Except that, published in 1986 as it was, and looking at liberal revivals that began in the 1900s, 1930s, and 1960s, it postulates the next great liberal revival for the 1990s.

Which leads one to conclude that, if Schlesinger's theory is correct - though there's no reason to suppose it is - the great liberal revival of the 1990s was torpedoed by the trimming and waffling of that neo-centrist posing as a liberal, Bill Clinton.

Posted by: Simon at January 8, 2004 07:02 PM | PERMALINK

Sign me up with Tonto. So much whining about corporations -- ooooh, big bad corporations. And repetitive invocations of a "health care crisis" without stopping to explain exactly what makes it a crisis. Is it that there are expensive new treatments that only the rich can afford? Well, there's an easily-fixed problem: set up a national health care system, and so much for the expensive new treatments.

As far as I can tell, the way forward for both the GOP and Democrats is to maximize social pandering while shoveling as much fat as possible in the mouths of their non-productive constituents. Gay marriage, small class sizes and free prescription drugs! No, you liberal commie: school prayer, corporate welfare and free prescription drugs!

I guess on aesthetic reasons, though, I'll keep voting (D). Lemme know when that exciting new vision surfaces.

Posted by: Charlie Murtaugh at January 8, 2004 07:05 PM | PERMALINK

Tonto: Is there no one here who can conceive of "progress" (working definition: societal change for the better)without being constrained by the statist paradigm box?

I'd wager that most of the people here are perfectly capable of conceiving of progress in a multitude of different forms, but it happens that they feel (rightly or wrongly) that the best method for attaining such progress involves governmental methods.

As for your "statist paradigm box"... I think the central message of Keanu Reeves (no, really)'s post at 1:19pm is applicable here: I, and I think many others posting here, feel that "government is a necessary GOOD". If you want to take issue with that, you may of course do so; I only ask that you do so constructively.

Posted by: Anarch at January 8, 2004 07:21 PM | PERMALINK


You feel that government is necessarily good? Do I have that right? Interestin' notion, especially for an "anarch".

Posted by: Tonto at January 8, 2004 07:31 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by Simon: "...looking at liberal revivals that began in the 1900s, 1930s, and 1960s, it postulates the next great liberal revival for the 1990s. Which leads one to conclude that, if Schlesinger's theory is correct - though there's no reason to suppose it is - the great liberal revival of the 1990s was torpedoed by the trimming and waffling of that neo-centrist posing as a liberal, Bill Clinton."

Well, given that universal health care has been oft-mentioned in this thread as the issue most likely to spearhead a new liberal revival, Clinton's efforts in that area should absolve him of your charge that he "torpedoed" the revival's scheduled arrival in the '90s. It was, in fact, torpedoed by the same powers who currently stand guard against a revival of liberalism, scheduled or otherwise.

I do agree that there is no reason to suppose such revivals operate on a schedule, as if a cosmic force manipulated left versus right thinking in a manner similar to the Federal Reserve Board's tinkering with interest rates. But even if such a force existed, history shows its power is no match for totalitarianism.

Which is why, while I believe that discussing theory and philosophy anytime is just fine, I mostly subscribe to the suggestion of David Raatz, who posted: "Can we please discuss all this theory & philosophy sometime after Nov. 2? In the meantime, there's a lot of work to do. For now, the big issue has to be getting Bush out of the White House."

Indeed. Because unless we do that, though the revival of liberalism could still occur at any time, I don't see it happening on this planet.

Posted by: jayarbee at January 8, 2004 08:28 PM | PERMALINK

although I agree with alot of the comments I believe we will awaken to the fact that we need to become a producing nation again, not just a consuming one that we currently are becoming. ogrethehill

Posted by: ogrethehill at January 8, 2004 08:36 PM | PERMALINK

If it's a technology like Kevin spoke of I would say renewable energy probably has a good chance. I'm a little biased though because that's what I hope to work on when I get out of school.

I really think we're a long way off from the "hydrogen economy" (does anyone else remember when Bush seemed to really push hydrogen power in the State of the Union?) but I do feel that when other renewable/clean technologies become cost effective it will effect alot of things.

Posted by: Josh Maxwell at January 8, 2004 09:02 PM | PERMALINK

"Since the Bush immigration plan, as described, is very much unlikely to lead to a significant increase in naturalization -- hence, voting -- of immigrants, that's not why its bad for Democrats."

It will legalize all the immigrant workers who want to stay and raise families. They will eventually vote. Those who want to commute from Mexico (too far to commute from central america) can do so with a green card and will probably retire to their home village.

"Since it will help hold down working class wages and keep down the percentage of the workforce that is eligible to vote, it is bad for Democrats."

This is Green Party rhetoric and misses the point. We as a country are accepting those who want to work and stay. They will be legal. Drivers licenses and the whole enchilada. They will work their way up the ladder economically; just like everyone does who wants to work hard in this country.

Posted by: Mike K at January 8, 2004 09:19 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by Mike K: "They will work their way up the ladder economically; just like everyone does who wants to work hard in this country."

Everyone? How hard did Bush work to get where he is economically? Gee, if it hadn't been for the onerous "death tax" imposed on his grandfather's estate, he may have been spared ever lifting so much as a finger. As it is, our hardworking president is still burdened with lifting his finger--his middle finger--at the entire world.

Posted by: jayarbee at January 8, 2004 09:37 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding globalism: I do think "fair trade" is going to be the next big issue. In many countries, workers in big corporate factories are little more than slaves, due to dictatorial governments that allow them little alternative and that set their state's currency to artificially low values in order to make exports cheap and imports expensive. As an American I feel I can compete with anybody, anywhere in a free market -- but how am I supposed to compete with slaves in Chinese labor camps?! (Don't give me the BS that those goods aren't coming here to America, you know as well as I that they're laundered through middlemen and end up here anyhow). Combine this with the government corruption issue -- they go hand in hand anyhow, the whole "free trade" issue when dealing with dictatorships that practice slavery was rammed through by corrupt pols in the pay of big corporations -- and you have the next wave.

Posted by: E at January 8, 2004 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie Murtaugh: I can't stand that sneering Republican/libertarian canard that "socialized medicine" will lead to the end of technological progress in U.S. health care. Since when is the government bad at fostering technological progress? We have a totally socialized defense industry, have you noticed any evidence of lack of technological progress in weaponry? Do you know where the Internet was first designed and developed? Do you know who funds most basic biomedical research in this country? Do you know that the percentage of health care funding that comes from the government has been steadily increasing since the 1960s, which is precisely the period during which technology took off?

Posted by: M at January 8, 2004 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

One reason to believe universal health care, and perhaps other forms of a social safety net, will finally become widely embraced: the breakdown of the policy and practice of lifetime, or even reasonably permanent, employment at a corporation. In effect, there IS no safety net in today's market, as in many ways there had been in years past. Jobs are readily shipped overseas, or simply eliminated. Corporations feel virtually no loyalty to their employees, or their pensioners. People have many more jobs than in the past, and many more gaps between jobs.

Since health care is now tied to jobs, and to a degree retirement packages such as pensions, when an employee loses a job, he or she may quickly find themselves struggling to maintain the most basic services -- and there are probably many more people nowadays who have experienced that struggle, or worry about it, than in years past. Economic libertarians of course applaud the ease with which "market forces" now drive corporations to dispense with employees. Yet the irony is that this will lead to something far worse, by their lights, namely the assumption by the government of these functions. A government funded safety net will come to seem to many people as the only truly reliable insurance they have that they will never be without these basic services.

Posted by: frankly0 at January 8, 2004 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

Healthcare will probably be a big issue, but it will take a significant breakdown in the current system to reveal its shortcomings to the general population.

Basically we have a two tier system now- a private insurance/medicare/HMO level and a medicaid/county or state funded level providing for the uninsured. While the bottom tier care is characterized by long waits for emergent care, elective surgeries, limited medication coverage, etc., it still manages to provide a basic level of care. However, as limited resources strain the system, its ability to accomidate a sudden increase in demand decrease; now it is a stretch just to accomidate its normal utilization. Private services may pick up some of the slack, but they are under an increasing amount of strain themselves.

Any sort of major emergency in the future may overwhelm the current system. A large earthquake or epidemic may show our current limitations, and will be a focal point for action.

Posted by: Galen at January 9, 2004 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

All right. It's not going to be the environment. That was last cycle, by this theory- the Clean Air Act, the ban on DDT and the Endangered species act happened about 30 years ago. This is becoming an old issue with most people. Ordinary people care about the environment when everything else is going well. If there are other big problems, they forget pretty quickly. See the last three years. Recession and war have relegated the environment to a much lower priority than it had before. Also, the doom and gloom ain't happening. If it were true, we'd have starved to death or run out of oil by now (typical environmental rhetoric 30 years ago- the global warming of the time). I remember what people were saying in the 1970's. None of the doomsday scenarios have happened. I mean, they were saying 'ice age.' Whatever. There is a lot to clean up, but waterworld is not on the way.

Health care tried really hard in 1993-4. It died because the Democrats wouldn't pay for it. Neither would the Republicans, but they were out of power. This could still happen- Bush is willing to put through massive programs, if he thinks it will get him elected. He is also able to get Congress to do what he wants. No one gives him credit for this. Remember how much trouble Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter had with Congress? When it was dominated by their own party, it was still very independent. Bush's Congress is much more compliant. So universal health care could be pushed through by a Republican President and Congress. Since there is a Republican lock on the House for the forseeable future (see Texas gerrymander), lets hope they catch the wave.

BTW a lot of reforms went through in the Progressive era in the first part of the last century- when TR was president. Conservation, National parks, police reform, etc. Going farther back, the movement for the abolition of slavery and Reconstruction were Republican efforts as well. Democrats do not have a lock on being progressive. Progressive waves tend to sweep the party that is already in power (the segregationist Southern Democrats saw the light and voted for rights). Today's Republican party is in flux, as well.

I think that Democrats are actually spending more time fighting change that pushing it- they are on the defensive. The presidential candidates are defining themselves by what they are against rather than what they are for. This is not a winning strategy. Even real obvious progressive issues- gay marriage, for instance- are being played down or ignored. Why?

Posted by: John at January 9, 2004 02:37 AM | PERMALINK

"End the drug war.
Universal healthcare.
Come to think of it, the former could fund the latter."

But the latter would end all possible hope of the former. If the taxpayers are completely responsible for treating you, they'll be even more reluctant than they already are to allow you to take chances with your health.

I think (hope) the next wave will begin as more and more people start asking themselves what happened to the World of Tomorrow they were promised. They'll ask: Why are we still poking along in groundcars? Why is the sky nearly empty of personal aircraft? Why is the rest of the solar system completely deserted? Why are we still all doomed to a long, slow, painful death before we reach 100 years old? And then (hopefully), there'll be a revolt against the government agencies that restrict access and hold back progress.

"One reason to believe universal health care, and perhaps other forms of a social safety net, will finally become widely embraced: the breakdown of the policy and practice of lifetime, or even reasonably permanent, employment at a corporation. In effect, there IS no safety net in today's market, as in many ways there had been in years past. Jobs are readily shipped overseas, or simply eliminated. Corporations feel virtually no loyalty to their employees, or their pensioners. People have many more jobs than in the past, and many more gaps between jobs. "

Which might lead them in the other direction, where they ask themselves "Why am I buying my health insurance from the company store?"

The practice of a company having its employees buy their food, housing, and other necessities from the company store fell into disrepute a long time ago. When the idea of buying health insurance through the company store similarly falls into disrepute, we will all be much better off.

"For example, when you hear futurists talking about huge leaps in human longevity just around the corner, you have to ask: is that going to be available to everyone? And at what cost? "

Only if you want to seal your doom. What you should be asking is "How quickly can this get to market, so that the wealthy can play with it for a while and work out the bugs, so that a lower-cost version can be developed for the rest of us before too many of us drop dead?"

The rich will always get the new stuff first. Then, unless government finds an excuse to prevent it, a cheaper version for average people comes on the market, and makes guys like Henry Ford fabulously wealthy. That's how it worked for cars, air conditioners, refrigerators, telephones, computers, and all sorts of other things. If you want to live to see 100, do not object to the wealthy being able to buy into it when it's bleeding edge and highly expensive.

Posted by: Ken at January 9, 2004 07:20 AM | PERMALINK

These optimistic posts ignore the fact that for most Germans, life under Hitler seemed almost normal. Swami catowner predicts that the world will need to unite to deal with the U.S..

Intellectually speaking, the U.S. is bankrupt. Our ability to write software or put a vehicle on Mars is about as important as the German supremacy in toymaking. A point pretty well illustrated by the fact that Bush, who thinks "the jury is still out on evolution", wants to go to Mars. To him, it's just a toy.

Democracy, human rights, global warming- worldwide events showing no sign of disappearing on their own. With an overwhelmingly Republican media in the U.S. acting as cheerleaders for a criminal gang that controls about 12,000 nuclear weapons, we could be talking about some real problems.

Notes: TR was not chosen by Republicans to be President. They meant to bury him in the office of VP, but things went "wrong". The Progressive Movement- non-partisan, largely concerned with developing honest municipal government. A lot of stuff related to food purity, anti-trust etc was actually the work of industries needing more reliable inputs. The labor movement- powerless and red-bashed until passage of the Wagner Act (c. 1936).

Posted by: serial catowner at January 9, 2004 07:55 AM | PERMALINK

I'm going to weigh in even though after 150 comments, it's an exercise in futility. I think the whole world is headed for a period very like what the US went through in the 20's that led to the second progressive wave that Kevin mentioned in his post. It's going to be painful and wrenching and worldwide. So I'm with all the people who said that the next big thing is globalization. Domestically though it will be healthcare that hits the fan and it will dovetail nicely with the upheaval that is going on around the world bec. it will fit in with workers' rights and level playing fields. Finally, the technology that keeps our heads above water and makes it possible for us to have another era of "the business of American is business" is renewable energy.

I has spoken ;)

Posted by: Get HR2239 Passed Now at January 9, 2004 08:22 AM | PERMALINK

Someone here pointed out defence as an example of government successfully fostering technology growth. I would like to point out that competitive pressures are the best thing for fostering innovation, and that defence isn't exactly the place where I want competitive pressures happening. (Competition in defence = war.) Defence innovations occur mostly in wartime, hot or cold. Space innovation was incredible during the '60s, when the space program was a competition with the Russians on essentially military grounds. It died when we "won", and gained a monopoly on manned space travel, and the benefits of space became essentially civilian. The rockets we use to launch competitive market participating high tech satellites today aren't much different from the ones we used to launch Apollo in '69, despite the huge progresses on the tech in the satellite itself. The shuttle hasn't changed significantly in 15 years. (Compare to your car. Or your computer.) Without competition, government financed drug research is going to look a lot like government financed supercollider or space station research - a lot of wasted money, a lot of unfulfilled expectations, a lot of failure, little or no success. (Private monopoly markets are the same. Monopoly cable TV was static for years - until satellite TV and the Internet threatened to compete. Then - digital cable. Cable Internet. Sudden innovation and progress. To me, the very fact that Microsoft keeps innovating suggests to me that they aren't really a monopolist.)

Posted by: rvman at January 9, 2004 09:03 AM | PERMALINK


Posted by: froz gobo at January 9, 2004 09:06 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps a reevaluation of the concept of the for-profit corporation. Corporations, whose sole purpose is to make money, dominate our economic life. They are accorded the rights of citizens in many cases. They break laws much more easily in some cases, because they cannot suffer the worst penalties our society offers (eg jail time, death) (nb Im not talking about corporate officers, but the corps themselves).
Their inbuilt profit motive causes our healthcare system to be screwed up, our democracy to be endangered by overt bribery (ie "campaign donations" by corps), they practice unethical trading (eg slave labor trade with the 3rd world, environmentally-damaging trade)... all of these behaviors are necessitated by the unadulterated profit motive.
And, in general, I think that the profit-motive mentality has infected Americans in their treatment of each other and their attitude towards their society. Where will we get a volunteer military if we're all doing cost-benefit analyses and figuring out that it's better for us if someone else puts their life on the line?

Or, perhaps the corporation needs to evolve beyond the profit motive, and become a full-fledged entity. When a corporation can embrace ethics, art, patriotism, and empathy instead of being obligated to consider only money, then perhaps they can be accepted as the equals of flesh-and-blood citizens.


Posted by: Carleton Wu at January 9, 2004 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

We're just going to blow ourselves up to kingdom come. We've passed the threshhold of control of nuclear weapons, and dramatically increased the political instability of the world during the past 10 months. So it's only a matter of time before someone pulls the trigger on the launch console. That's the most likely outcome of the next decade, and it's all due to us spineless Democrats and Progressives. We failed and now we're doomed.

Oh, and Happy New Year!

Posted by: Mike at January 9, 2004 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's ending the combination of government and business, aka reregulation. Most of the major problems we see today (environmental destruction, healthcare costs, unemployment, deteriorating education) are a direct result of MNC-biased deregulatory schemes and the stripping down of anti-trust doctrine.

I think there is strong support out there for anti-trust being rebrandished. The GOP has successfully turned anti-establishment anger to its favor, but I think it's still cogent, and being increasingly directed at the big corporations that are exporting our jobs abroad, despoiling our air, water, and food, and destroying labor standards.

Posted by: Dave at January 9, 2004 01:50 PM | PERMALINK

the freedom of information

transparency and accountability

in all sectors of the economy and society.

nationally and internationally.

this must be accompanied by strong support for international human rights norms (minimum set).

not more democracy (illiberal), not more capitalism (crony), but a lifting of the curtain, the realization of the Wizard of Oz, while the world stands ready to protect minimum human rights protections whereever and whenever as a condition of having total transparency and accountability, which is the only way to secure all nations long-term from the scourge of weapons development and terrorism.

all the while, we should encourage through sticks and carrots movement towards liberal democracy. not just any democracy, not just an expansion of crony capitalism for the benefit of our own economic expansion, but democracy combined with respect for human rights norms.

Posted by: freelixir at January 9, 2004 02:11 PM | PERMALINK

It is this debate that sharia must make itself legimitate. Without respect for the minimal set of human rights protections that we will agree on, no system should be allowed to prosper or be appeased.

Islamic democracy will be different than ours, but violation of human rights norms will or should never be accepted in this century. If these systems are allowed to flourish, with values and principles that do not sanctify the worth and dignity of life and the individual, then what is to stop them from continuing to wage war with deadlier and deadlier technology?


We need to change, and everyone else needs to as well. If we and everyone don't, the death and destruction will only get worse, as the weapons of war and political policy become ever more advanced, and there is no unifying moral for cooperation and alliance in foreign policy other than abject domination in protection of one's own interests and in worries of one's own vulnerability.

Posted by: freelixir at January 9, 2004 02:17 PM | PERMALINK

Environmental policies will be the next progressive movement - this will also help create jobs.

Posted by: patricia92243 at January 10, 2004 06:32 AM | PERMALINK

Jayarbee: If the demise of Clinton's health care plan can really be attributed only to those forces working against it, and if the sign of a liberal revival would be the enactment of such a plan, then Schlesinger's theory that a liberal revival was due in the 1990s is wrong. I did state that Clinton's responsibility was based on the big "if" that Schlesinger was right.

However, we cannot absolve Clinton of all responsibility. He did a terrible job of selling that plan, and anything else he came up with that was remotely liberal. He trimmed and waffled and otherwise refused to display the courage of the convictions he supposedly had. Do you remember the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy? No real liberal would have offered gays anything so craven and caved-in to prejudice.

Compare that to Truman's peremptory desegregation of the army, one of his finest hours. Compare it even to FDR. FDR was a famous waffler, but he had the backbone of the Empire State Building compared to Clinton. I am a liberal who is deeply, deeply disappointed in the wasted opportunity that Clinton represents. Eight years of accomplishing nothing except saving his own ass when he got into trouble of his own making.

Posted by: Simon at January 10, 2004 07:45 AM | PERMALINK

My two cents, in rapid-fire format:

The Left and the Right always exist. Their "waves" of influence and power come when they adopt a meta-message that generates widespread support and momentum. As labor rights, social security, and individual rights drove waves of Leftist influence, "government is the problem, starve the beast" continues to drive the Rightist wave that continues to dominate today.

The "next wave" on the Left will be a meta-message focusing on anti-corporatism and environmentalism. It may not necessarily be pro-government, but could be strongly libertarian in a world governed by business and international trade organizations. It will have populist overtones and the radio waves will fill with spokesman of the Left that attack CEOs and Wall Street the way Limbaugh aims his fire at the Clintons and college campuses.

Of course, I believe the resurgance of such a Leftist program may be just as destructive as the current Rightist campaign. I continue to hope that the slow growth in Centrism that began in the late-1980s and squandered its first chance to explode in the 1990s will eventully discover the meta-message that triumphs. The future doesn't have to be anti-government from the Right or anti-business from the Left. The cycle Kevin speaks of may be broken by a wave of Third Way success.

Posted by: Militant Moderate at January 10, 2004 09:03 AM | PERMALINK

NB: I use the terms "Left" and "Right" rather than "liberal" and "conservative" as these terms have lost much of their meaning, as an earlier comment pointed out, in a world where Republicans pursue radical change and Democrats fight to retain the status quo welfare state. Don't you think?

Posted by: Militant Moderate at January 10, 2004 09:05 AM | PERMALINK

Because we fear the middle of the road people who watch TV 6 hours a night who have no knowledge or input into the gay marriage debate but will still turn away from Democrats because gays make them feel icky.

Posted by: Norman at January 10, 2004 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

just a quick hello and congratulations to your nice website ! i`ll visit you again! Cu ;-)

Posted by: Goodlife 2000 at July 24, 2004 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Hello, What a beautiful and awesome site. I adore what you've done with your setup and graphics. I recently built a new homepage of my own, so I'm doubly impressed. Thanks you so much.

Posted by: FitLine at July 24, 2004 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

I was looking through another guest book and I visited your page through that link. You have a really nice web page. Please visit my Goodlife 2000 Homepage. Thanks Mike

Posted by: Goodlife 2000 at July 24, 2004 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Cool site!!! Have fun!!! Enjoy your life with
Goodlife 2000 cu later ;-)

Posted by: Goodlife 2000 at July 24, 2004 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Thanx for all the cool information. Cool greetings from Mr. Goodlife 2000 ;-)

Posted by: Goodlife 2000 at July 24, 2004 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Nice site. Live in peace. Enjoy your life with Goodlife 2000. Cu Danielle

Posted by: Goodlife 2000 at July 24, 2004 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Very interesting site. Please visit me on my site. Best regards Eddie

Posted by: PM International at July 24, 2004 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Hi, just surfed in. I enjoyed looking around your web site. This site has been very useful to me so far and I have barely scratched the surface of it.

Posted by: Goodlife 2000 ultra at July 24, 2004 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Nice site. Weight loss is a problem you can reverse. Buy Goodlife 2000.

Posted by: Goodlife 2000 at July 24, 2004 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

This is a very beautiful website, I have enjoyed my visit here very much. You are doing a wonderful work here. Hoping that you will return the visit to my website and I would be so very honoured to have you sign the guestbook. Thanking you for the great work that you are doing here.

Posted by: Goodlife2000 at July 24, 2004 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Cool site!!! Have fun!!! Enjoy your life with Goodlife 2000 cu later ;-) Kevin

Posted by: Goodlife 2000 at July 24, 2004 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

You have an absolutely cool site!!! Great pictures. Go on doing a great work. Goodlife 2000 cu later ;-) greetings John

Posted by: Goodlife 2000 at July 24, 2004 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

I came across your site on google looking for cool pictures. WOW. you have talent! your pictures are great. i really like your page. Please visit me at my Goodlife 2000 homepage. Thanx Peter

Posted by: Goodlife 2000 at July 24, 2004 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

2620 check out the hot blackjack at here you can play blackjack online all you want! So everyone ~SMURKLE~

Posted by: play blackjack at August 23, 2004 02:34 AM | PERMALINK

499 Herie is online for all your black jack needs. We also have your blackjack needs met as well ;-)

Posted by: blackjack at August 25, 2004 07:44 AM | PERMALINK

5222 check out for texas hold em online action boodrow

Posted by: texas hold em at August 26, 2004 02:38 PM | PERMALINK
Contribute to Calpundit

Powered by
Movable Type 2.63

Site Meter