“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. assured us. But, once interrupted, how do we extend the beautiful bend of this arc?
First, let's ditch our obsession with division. Sixty percent in both Red and Blue states agree that “too much power is concentrated in large companies,” and two-thirds in both groups agree that we should “do whatever it takes to protect the environment.”
Clearly, a latent progressive consensus awaits enlivening. But to take off, our vision requires a compelling frame. The dominant “strict father” frame cultivated by the right tars progressives as coddlers of the poor, apologists for big government and weak on defense. Sure, it appeals to frightened people...but only until they realize “father” might be a bully bringing on the very dangers he claims to shield us from.
Americans are ready for a far more powerful frame grounded in what we intuitively know—that we are all in this together. We call it the “strong communities” frame, directly challenging the callous, dog-eat-dog individualism of the right telling us to turn over our fate to a market—not a free market, of course, but one controlled by an ever-narrowing handful of Wal-Marts and Monsantos.
The right has succeeded in casting progressives as elitist snobs. Our response?
• Refuse to indulge in ridicule; appeal to broad common concerns.
• Challenge the myth of market discipline, showing how corporatism of the right destroys community.
• Demonstrate that quality health care, good schools, jobs with dignity, and safe food, air, and water for all create strong communities, ensuring lasting security and our deepest moral values.
This bold reframing of politics is the critical first step to reconnect America with the historic arc bending toward ever greater inclusion and freedom—freedom for all to fulfill our inherent potential within strong communities.Frances Moore Lappé is an author whose work can be found at www.smallplanetinstitute.org. Richard R. Rowe is a clinical psychologist and business leader, active in education reform.