Outlining a progressive grand strategy, part 1 - goals and assessment

Yesterday's blog post about the Progressive Strategy Brain got me thinking about a problem which the authors of Finding Strategy (PDF) have discussed in the past: what would a grand strategy for progressive power look like?

In addition to giving blog posts like this one a really cool-sounding title, grand strategy is a coherent composition of several different strategies which together address all of the different forms of power relationships in society.  It's quite a tall order, which would explain why no one has really developed a grand strategy for progressive power.  (Full disclosure: As I mentioned yesterday, one of the authors of Finding Strategy is a personal friend.)

I don't pretend to have the answer to this question, but I'd like to piece together some thoughts on what such a strategy might look like. As Finding Strategy argues, strategy consists of six components: goals, assessment, tactics, resources, dynamics, and evaluation.  Today, I'd like to focus on the first two components; I'll delve into the other four in follow-up posts.  Follow me across the jump for more.

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The cultural dimension of transformational politics

On Thursday Digby wrote a fascinating post at Campaign for America's Future on the difference between transactional and transformational politics.  The post pointed out the difference between "transactional" politics (what can I get in the political marketplace?) and "transformational" politics (how can I change the marketplace?).  Digby argues that elected officials should be doing two jobs at once - getting the best reforms they can in the current environment, while working to change that environment so that it is more favorable to progressives.

I think it's important that we recognize the difference between these two forms of politics, and also that we push our elected officials to strive for political transformations even as they try to get the best "deal" on each political "transaction" they make.  Indeed, that is perhaps the central purpose of the progressive blogosphere.

However, I think we should also think more broadly about political transformation and the other forces, besides the machinations of Democratic politicians, which might create political transformation.  In particular, we need to be aware of the cultural institutions which frequently shape our political environment, and we need to push those institutions to create political transformation as well.  Follow me across the flip for more details on how, in my opinion, cultural institutions shape our political environment, and what (in somewhat high-level terms) needs to be done about those institutions to create the kind of progressive political transformation we seek.

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Transformational Politics -- Why the Dean Campaign was Different

bumped - Matt

Over the Christmas Weekend Matt Stoller started a conversation about John Edwards that got me thinking again about the difference between transactional politics and transformational politics.

I had an epithany one day in the middle of the Dean campaign about what made us so different...

Its incredibly simple and defines what I now believe is the essential ingredient in any campaign or candidacy that hopes to be transformational.

All modern campaigns and transactional campaogns are built around a candidate who proclaims to the nation "Look at me -- aren't I amazing?".  

The Dean campaign (and any transformational campaign successful or not) was built around a candidate who proclaimed "Look at you -- aren't you amazing?"

This strikes me as essential.  More than ideology, or any other factor -- true transformational leadership can only come from a candidate who fundmentally gets that it isn't about him/her -- its about us.  

So in terms of 2008 is Hillary capable or realizing that she is not the center of the universe -- that the political world and even her own campaign does not revolve around her?    Obama?  Edwards? Who? Anyone?

The Dean campaign was different not because of ideology or because of opposition to the war -- but because it revolved around its supporters and empowered them.  It was the only campaign in a long time that realized that the people were more important than the candidate.

<James MacGregor Burns wrote "A transformational leader stands on the shoulders of his followers, expressing coherently those ideas which lie inchoate in the hearts of the followers -- and in the process makes his followers into new leaders.">

Al Gore is doing this right now around the issue of Global Warming.   Dean did it in 2004 for President.  Who in 2008?

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