The New Consensus

David Shechtman has written an article for the Good Men Project that is worth a read.  David and I are the same age (solid Gen Xers going on 43) and grew up in the same corner of the country, the Chicago area.  We share that Midwestern wry and no-bs way of looking at the world.  We think in practical and functional terms.  I have appreciated his friendship over the years because we are not of the same political persuasion and yet we find much on which to agree.

I currently call myself a Democrat and, in recent years, David made the switch from Republican to Independent.   David is committed to not allowing candidate Trump to become our next President.  He talked to me recently about strategy in his communications with Republicans and how he can convince them to, if necessary, “hold their nose and vote for Hillary.”  He sees four categories of Republicans that any of us who has access to them can influence in a customized way:

Right-wing ideologues

  • David Duke types.
  • Authoritarian personalities.
  • Extreme social conservatives.
Countering strategy

  • Likely too extreme to influence.
  • Best hope is to expose their venom for what it is.
Bandwagon Republicans

  • People who grew up in Reagan/Bush households.
  • Like the party because of its electoral success since 1994.
  • Pro-business, socially moderate (or at least sensible).
Countering strategy

  • Appeal to patriotism.
  • Talk about heroic, defining moments.
  • Give tacit permission to explore an alternative.
Globalization casualty

  • Someone who has lost work or made less money because free trade.
  • People who feel threatened by progressive social changes (immigration, diversity, political correctness).
Countering strategy

  • Provide context: this system has created opportunity AND it needs fixing. Better to fix it than to destroy it.
  • Give people tools for making change in their life.
  • Fall back on social/religious ethics of decency, conflict resolution, and engagement.
Clinton haters

  • People invested in exposing the Clinton family as frauds and soulless politicians.
  • Women who Hillary as a doormat for Bill after his infidelity.
Countering strategy

  • Sitting the election out is too costly.
  • Hold your nose and vote.
  • The alternative is ghastly.

Perhaps this is helpful, for those of you who wish to have these conversations with your friends and family, or your neighbor in the check-out line.   But this isn’t a blog about getting “our side to win,” it’s about the idea that none of us are really on any side.  Or, that we’re all on the same side – the side that wants to find solutions for our country together, instead of wasting time by fear-marketing and assigning blame.

David wants to see a “new consensus” emerge – one that counters the vicious tensions between the left and the right, and whose foundation is the idea that we are tired of being “stuck” and we are ready for “restoration” as defined by Peter Block’s seminal work, Community:  The Structure of Belonging.

Block says, “The overriding characteristic of the stuck community is the decision to broadcast all the reasons we have to be afraid.  This is a kind of advertising that exploits the fear we have of violence, of the urban core, of terrorism, of African-Americans and other ethnic groups, of immigrants, of those who are poor or undereducated, of other religions, and of other countries . . . Restoration comes from the choice to value possibility and relatedness over problems, self-interest, and the rest of the stuck community’s agenda.  It hinges on the accountability chosen by citizens and their willingness to connect with each other around promises they make to each other.”

I really like that word “promise” Peter Block uses because the keeping of promises is the glue of healthy structures of belonging, be that in our marriages, the workplace, the religious community, or the country we call home.  I will be exploring our promises more at length in my first pulpit appearance at the UU Church of Studio City on September 11.  The theme is “covenant” which is basically a hoity-toity word for “promise.”   There is  also sermon material in the idea of the new consensus, and that may occur closer to November.

No, I really don’t want to see Trump become president (although I think it would be, um, beneficial for the liberal religious business! HAR), but I know that no matter who becomes president, the need for a new consensus will be as pronounced as it is now, if not more so.  No matter who wins, it will be a very big deal.  Historic if the first woman takes the helm, historic if someone as unconventional as Trump does.  Whoever it is, it’s going to make a lot of people uncomfortable – and here is the opportunity.

As people experience cognitive dissonance, they may be ready for a new way of seeing things.  They may be more interested in having the difficult conversations about their fear and anger, and be more open to new solutions.  Imagine how angry Trump supporters would be when, after a year or two of Trump’s administration, things are even worse for them.

They say the pendulum swings in politics between right and left and David and I are suggesting that perhaps the pendulum could swing also between divisiveness and unity, between moderate and extremist.  There were times our country was more unified, but we don’t live in that world anymore, nor do we want to – we are ready for the world where equity and humanity are the default, not the opposite.

No political party can help us get there, and we need to embrace that truth.  It is ordinary people like ourselves who hold elected officials accountable, be they Dems or GOP.  Some say we don’t even have a two-party system anymore and haven’t for some time – it’s all the same corporate-bought party.   However you see it, join the post-partisan conversation.  What do you think it will take to develop an effective “new consensus”?

Until next time, Do the Hustle!

Rev. At-Large, aka Hannah Hustlin’ Hope Petrie!

2 thoughts on “The New Consensus”

  1. Hannah,
    These observations are useful, timely, probably well-beyond this election. Ok to submit them to the First Congregational newsletter? Thx for keeping on hustlin’. You may know that “covenant” is the basic building block of UCC polity and theology, in all settings of the church. Interesting to me is that, despite many references & wide use, there isn’t a dictionary definition. The key idea centers around mutual, sacred commitment in relationships between/among people, churches, the associations and conferences, and God — so that all are seen as interdependent, respected and can function as a whole (as in John ‘so that all may be one’). Its aspirational! Its also taken seriously, and is invoked often. I’d like to hear your first Studio City sermon.

  2. Whoa, I’m in Kansas City until September 6th. I’ll have many chances to test this post partisan cheat sheet. My experience is red state/ blue state divisions, though presented as white /black thinking (practiced only by the other–thus partisan ) evaporates into a highly abstracted blob of fearful emotions nobody dares take out on the other when you’re actually facing each other, say over dinner, or a non partisan commonality that brings you together, say at the graveside of a loved one.

    Sharing a meal we are not, a nation of haters, but rather a media desensitized collection of weary zombies, trying to hold up “our side” of a covenant of aspirational beliefs. Commonality doesn’t bleed thus doesn’t lead, (all though liberals are touted as bleeders, hummm, isn’t the bleeding heart image, I don’t know, Catholic, a once noble quality encouraged by the image of Christ?) Pardon my digression.

    Okay, back on notes for living in a post kill thy neighbor world. Here as I find myself an enterloper in the red state of Missiouri I feel the shattering effect of seeing people who actually love their neighbors, doing what anybody does when cognitive dissonance threatens mental stability–there is a power outage, where the mind and its emotional life must shut down, lose its wifi connection to a sane world.

    Perhaps the consensus world you speak of is also about the dishonesty discovered when we must form a new alliance with former ideological “enemies” to defeat a common enemy, the dreary, unfocused, Donald Trump, so devoid of scruples and true creativity we must run him out on a rail lest he choke us all out with those tiny yet persuasive twittering hands.

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