I have not read Kohn, but the little synopsis that I've read here prompts me to offer one hypothesis:
the same individualistic culture that brings about social dislocation and the weakening of family and community stability is the same one that encourages innovation and enrepreneurialism. They did not invent the I-Pod (or the comuter you're typing into) ion China.
So if you want a more communitarian culture, fine. But understand what you'd be giving away.
And you won't change human nature either way. There is just as much callow, mindless cruelty, abuse of power and mendacity in human nature anywhere you may go on the globe. No societal program or messianoc, utopian movement will change that. I'm a psychologist, and I'm here to tell you: we are what we are.
And I forgot to mention: the Entrepreneurial America frame works well, in an Elliot Spitzer/Teddy Roosevelt like way, as a starting point to critique and attack the overtaking of our government by anti-competitive big business (like Haliburten). Big-corporate America takes full advantage of the government-for-sale environment of the DeLay K-Street project to tilt regulation against the entrepreneur, the innovator and the common citizen (environmental issues, for example).
The barriers to economic growth thereby created against small business vastly suppresses job growth and inhibits small businesses from providing benefits and health care. A pro-small business agenda is a pro-working family agenda. And it will sell well in the battleground ex-urbs. That's another benefit, in my view, of the Entrepreneurial America frame.
I also think talking about Entrepreneurial America is a way to bridge the economic issues spoken of in "What's the Matter with Kansas?" with the issues of culture that really do frame the ways Americans identify themselves now.
The culture of Entrepreneurial America does not only live in the coasts, but is alive in any place that puts the values of Entrepreneurial America in place. The results are growth and better living - and less divorce, fewer abortions, opportunity for all and family security.
By inviting all Americans to join us in the vision of creating this kind of Entrepreneurial America, we offer not just a critique of Republican corruption, and the alliance of theocrats with robber baron corporations, but a positive, alternate vision of what America is about.
In another diary, I've argued that we begin to talk about "entrepreneurial america" as an alternative frame considered against "middle america."
Under that concept, we can also position ourselves against the big corporate, anticompetitive practices of Haliburten and the whole K-Street/Tom Delay government-for-sale machine. This is an Elliot Spitzer type, Teddy Roosevelt reformist agenda.
Not that we want to define ourselves in purely economic terms, but aren't we, in the cities of either coast, the engines of innovation, growth and prosperity? So why not claim this for ourselves?
Innovation rests also on a tolerance of, even a promotion of, difference. So our identities as diverse people who come together to create the common good and prosperity is integral to our cultural strength. I think we have to emphasize that aspect of who we are: we are culturally strong.
Claiming this identity as Entrepreneurial America also allows us, culturally, to claim back something that is deeply ingrained in American mythology and the American consciousness. The progressive, frontier mythology of America is bound up in the language of innovation and entrepreneurial risk-taking.
One image and metaphor of this comes with the way New York came together after 9/11. There were a lot of working people of all colors, flavors and faiths in those images: that was America. That, even, was the "heart" of America. But for political purposes, New Yorkers have become framed as the "other" again.
By approaching our identity as Entrepreneurial America this way, we can also point out a couple of things, by way of contrast. First, it gives an opportunity to demonstrate again that the so called "blue states" subsidize the economies of the so called "red" ones. Furthermore, as Andrew Sullivan has argued recently, our policies and culture are actually better in terms of producing the "moral" outcomes that the right wing seeks to promote.
The way I see it, using the frame of "Entrepreneurial America" not only has the benefit of being good politics, it has the benefit of being true, as Lyndon Johnson once famously remarked in another context.
I agree with Chris: the fact that we neither can nor should try to do the right thing "everywhere" does not mean we can't apply our principles to act where we can make a difference.
We have to be realistic about what we can acomplish, and realistic about what it will take over the long haul to take on each intervtion we may consider. We have to consider our national interests, but as progressives, I think we would place less immediate emphasis on defining the national interests in terms of, say, access to oil, and more relative emphasis on the prevention of the spread of totalitarianism. That would consitite a valid alternative vision for the role of America in the world.
We also could and should be more circumspect about what force can and cannot accomplish, when it comes to promoting democracy. For that effort, extension of the Peace Corps and wise us of USAID is more powerful than armed intervention or threats.
I have been trying to promote this discussion, with far less success and based on far less work inh articulating the full case, over at kos. It's been like pissing up a rope. People get mad at me.
While your policy recommendations may or may not be right on target, you are right that we need to articulate a principled, liberal alternative agenda. Even if it is not enacted, it creates pressure from the right angle, and can move the needle of policy in the direction we seek.
Must be the commonality of our Catholic backgrounds that makes us so sympatico with the idea of a proactive, liberal approach to foriegn affiars and the fight against totalitarianism.
The beauty of the frame is that it links seamlessly with the domestic agenda of the party's base, and is trult rooted in our principles. We are not just anti-Bush. We are for freedom, and not in the callow, hollow sense conveyed by Bush when he uses the word mendaciously.
Bully for you, Chris, in taking on this question and articluating the case in a progressively principled way. I hope this meme gets picked up a lot more among members of the base.
We are simply not credible as promoters of freedom when we do not extend our vision beyond our own borders, and lacking such credibility, we don't deserve to win national elections. It's as simple as that.
And this fits perfectly with your well articulated analysis of the weaknesses of liberalism unearthed through the partisan index, and fits our real need to rebrand and remake the party, by expanding the liberal base. In this case, good politics and gppd principles coincide. This is not a matter of becoming republican-lite. This is a matter of becoming serious and adult about liberalism.
And I would emphasize the word "story" in your post. It needs to be a narrative.
Anbd I'll go a step further: it has to be a story about how we've come to our place in histroy as a people today, and where we should be going.
We have to interpret and tell a story that is a history.
Look at the other side: they're rewriting history to say that the Constitution should be intreprested through the lens of a peculiar interpretation of the Bible from contemporary times, and superimposing it on the founding fathers. And yet, we are not telling a competing version of the history of America.
Identities are formed by histories. But we've ceded the field of play.
We dems speak in power point bullet points. We sound like policy papers.
But at our hostorical best, we told stories about people.
Let me recommend a book that is non political, but on point.
It's cxalled "Never Be Boring Again," by Doug Stephenson. It's written for the business presenter or professional speaker, but it's message and guts should cross over: it's a nice how-to book for creating a persuasive presentation using stories.
You can get the book at Amazon. I would even recommend that candidiates get it to help them craft their messages. If people here want to take a step beyond Lakoff to become more abel to frame issues as stories, then this is also a good resource. And no, I have no financial interest in plugging the book!