Lessig on neo-progressives

/ 25 September 2010

This is interesting, and maybe even compelling? I need to think about it, because it upends some of my basic assumptions — but I think in a good way. An excerpt:

The Neo-Progressive Movement needs the same catholicism. The vast majority of Americans would willingly go to war to end Special Interest Government. Disgust with Wall Street "reform" is palpable. The compromises of the bailouts and stimulus plans will just fuel that disgust even more. There is an endless reservoir of examples of government corrupted that could convince America of what it already believes: Money buys results in Congress; "the People" are no longer sovereign.

But if this Neo-Progressive Movement is to have any chance of success, it needs to be disciplined enough not to insist that all members also be members of Moveon.org. We need, to borrow and remix the insight of Cass Sunstein, an "incompletely theorized movement." We need Republicans who stand in the tradition of Reagan and Goldwater, yet who are as disgusted with the sellout that corporate money has induced as are we. How can an honest Republican vote to protect domestic sugar manufacturers? Yet many do, because the millions in campaign contributions from sugar lords is just too sweet to resist. How can honest Republicans vote for the corporate welfare we call farm subsidies? Because, as former-Representative Leslie Byrne (D-VA) was told by a colleague when she came to Congress, "always lean to the green." That colleague "wasn't," she clarified, "an environmentalist."

The Neo-Progressive Movement must also make its case to the Tea Party, the most potent political movement in America today, far deeper than it is caricatured to be by both Fox and MSNBC. For whatever extreme social vision motivates some in that party, the belief that government has been bought motivates them all.

And most importantly, the Movement must be willing to sacrifice Democrats who don't commit to its fundamental reform. That party is filled with people who don't actually believe in this reform. The sell out of the Democrats to Wall Street during the 1990s testifies to this split.</blockquote>