The right-wing ideology that has gained national prominence and credibility in the past few decades manages to enthrall and mislead many Americans. One reason it speaks to people is that many experience personal life as lived through families is in crisis. Many feel that families, one of the few bastions’ of protection from the dangers of the selfishness, materialism and looking out for number one that predominate in the larger world, are themselves under attack.
Liberals and progressives are often puzzled by why more middle income and poor Americans don’t become active supporters of a progressive agenda. They turn their backs on the Green Party, for example, or on progressive candidates in the Democratic Party. If people were primarily motivated by economic issues they’d be rallying overwhelmingly to a Bernie Sanders or to other economic populists. What we’ve learned is this: As long as the focus of activists in the union movement, the women’s movement, civil libertarians, environmentalists, anti-war and anti-nuclear arms movement avoids addressing the way that these issues are linked to the daily life experiences of people inside their families, or remains focused primarily on the economic deprivations people face—the Right will continue to command the allegiance of a sizeable part of the population whose primary concern is with their own family lives. If spiritual progressives can help existing social change movements speak to the concerns of families these movements will be more successful in reaching the American people.
Liberal and progressive forces are in much deeper crisis than they are willing to admit. We believe that at least part of the reason for this development has been the inability of the progressive forces to address the issue of family life in a serious way. Not only does this failure estrange progressives from major sectors of the population that would otherwise be their “natural constituency” (namely, a major sector of American working people), but also causes many people who believe in progressive politics to drop out of active involvement as they themselves get weighed down by the problems of raising a family and feel little support much less innovative ideas coming from the progressive world.
First step: Join the NSP, Network of Spiritual Progressives, and then tell us which part of this program makes most sense to you and what you are willing to do to help start this project in your own area of the country. Contact Cat@spiritualprogressives.org after you have become a dues paying member of the NSP to get involved.