I am a progressive. In the US I identify with the democrats. Over the last two US elections I have watched in pain as Bush defeated Gore and Kerry. How could America elect such a conservative leader? I wondered. But after attending the Clinton Global Initiative two weeks ago in New York City and listening to some token right wingers who were invited to attend I realized that things have changed. Nowadays, it is the Democrats who are conservatives, in the sense that it is them who want things to stay the same, and paradoxically it is the republicans, traditionally seen as conservatives, who want things to change, sometimes radically. Abortion is legal, they want to change that. Prayer is not allowed at schools, they want that changed as well. Evolution is seen as the only accepted science, they don´t buy that. There´s one rule in politics, people who want things to change organize themselves better than people who want things to stay the same. For example, creationists are well organized, evolutionists (who probably make 100% of the biology teachers in the world), are not. Why are you going to organize to fight for what you have? I think that people of a democratic spirit in America will begin to wake up only when they realize that their status quo…is no longer.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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EthanZ on October 4, 2005  · 

This is a really useful insight, Martín. As a US citizen and a progressive, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to identify as a Democrat, though I’ve voted with the party in every election since I’ve been enfranchised. I have a very hard time figuring out what the Democrats are for – I know they’re against the Republicans, and many of the things being advocated by conservative Republicans are things I’m against as well: “intelligent” design, eliminating the right to an abortion, prayer in schools. But it’s very hard – and very frustrating – to rally around the idea that “they’re bad and we’re good”. That tends to turn politics into sport, and politics is far too important to become sport.

Unfortunately, it’s not that clear that many people who identify as Democrats have common ground in changes they’d like to see America make. If I could advocate for any one policy, I’d work to eliminate agricultural subsidies which make it so difficult for African farmers to sell cotton and other products on a global market. But many traditional democratic voterbases – organized labor, for one – are opposed to the increasing openness of trade that I think is so important. Perhaps we’re interested in topics where we don’t want to see change because we’re worried about how difficult it might be to gain consensus on things we’d like to see change…

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