July/August 2006 NW Newsmakers
The New Political Compass
by Paul H. Ray, Ph.D., Integral Partnerships LLC
The New Progressives are In-Front, Deep Green, and Beyond Left vs. Right
This is a condensed and non-technical edit of Version 7.3. For more detailed evidence, download version 7.3 from www.culturalcreatives.org
© Paul H. Ray, 2003
How can progressives actually win in the face of the right wing political juggernaut, composed of big money, big media and religious right shock troops? This article shows two of the necessary pieces that have to be set up to win:
- It connects values data to political attitudes to show a clearer picture of politics than just left vs. right. It looks like a political compass, and the four sides are described in detail.
- Once you look through the lens of values research, the new picture also leads to a new and very practical way to do political mapping for issues development and campaign strategies. The article shows striking strategic imperatives for each party: the Republicans seem to have figured their own imperatives out, and the Democrats haven’t. You can actually see pictures of wedge-driving and bridge-building strategies.
This clearer picture has 3 big consequences:
- It points directly at bringing back people power in progressive strategies, because there is a big, untapped voter population out there that is not in the mushy middle, and it looks like a potential for a new kind of progressive. This north-pointing direction on the New Political Compass has twice the voters of any other direction. We can win! A new political world is possible.
- However, we need to acknowledge that even though this big population accepts basic progressive ideas, 83 percent of them reject any identification with the left, or its language, or its tight focus on programmatic ideas.
- This analysis leads directly to a way to develop a new voter mobilization database: with a new, updated Political Compass survey, we could use its results to springboard to a values-based way to exactly identify who and where these voters are, both for fund-raising and precinct walking. This new approach, GeoValueGraphics, overlays political values on the geo-demographic analysis of small area data (Zip+4 areas are very fine-grained: 5 to 15 households). Once we have this, it really would support people power: old-fashioned retail politics could come back again, with high tech support.
People power is coming back as a theme of the Democratic Party, and as a theme of awakening progressives, and the rise of Howard Dean is one of the results. It’s high time, because the party has concentrated for far too long on being Republicans-lite, and on being friendly to the money of big business contributors. This has been a losing strategy that Clinton’s temporary success papered over. But the answer is almost certainly not to go back to the liberal verities of the 1930s to 1960s. The general public has moved on, and what they want is not being described by conventional pollsters, or by the corporate-controlled news media. They want the politics to catch up to their own concerns, and to speak to them in ways they can believe in.
Voters really do want politicians they can trust, and they really do want values more than policy-wonk stuff—just not the values of the far right, and certainly not the stripping away of the protections of middle class and working class Americans. What they want is more and better focus on the real values of real people, not the narrow and intolerant values focus of the Religious Right. Most who are somewhat conservative religiously, are nevertheless for quite a few progressive values.
Here’s an action summary of Political North constituency on the New Political Compass:
Action Points for Action People
Political North reflects a change in political culture:
- Identify much less with Left or Right
- Planetary more than nationalist interests
- Ecological sustainability, not sentimental environmentalism/resource management
- Feminism rather than heroic models
- Personal growth over personal ambition
- Condemn corrupt, globalizing mega-corporations
- Get big corporate money out of politics
- Protect a positive future for our children
- Their most important issues are all ‘outside the box’ to Washington politics
- None of their big issues were in the last 4 national election campaigns
- It’s a kind of political market failure.
Both Left and Right can call the Political North’s issues the issues of the Left, but 83% of North don’t identify with the Left. We need a new way of speaking to them, and about them. “New Progressives” might not be a name they’d agree with.
Key Demographics of Political North
- 36%=70 Million Adult Americans
- 56% Female
- More in Northeast, Upper Midwest, Pacific Coast, fewest in Mtn States
- 15% people of color
- 9% Hispanic
- Same as National distribution on Age, Income, Education, Occupation
Important Political Facts:
Among Likely Voters, Political North is:
- 45% of Likely Voters = 55 Million
- 56% of all Swing Voters (and Swing Voters are 53% of Political North)
- 17% self-identify as Liberal vs. 33% as Conservative,The rest is 39% ‘Center’, 10% ‘Beyond Left-Right’
- 37% Democrat vs. 29% Republican, 27% Independent, 3% 3rd Party
A low marginal cost to mobilizing them:
- Volunteer more often and more hours
- Give more money to good causes
- Want to get actively involved
- Involved in more New Social Movement constituencies, and believe their views
- Care more about changing the culture
- Want politics to deal more with the real emerging problems threatening our future
Political North = “New Progressives”
- They’re unimpressed with conventional politicians:
- Inauthentic, psychologically primitive: too much blaming, shaming, posturing, hatred/conflict-driven, violence imagery
- Bereft of innovative, or win-win ideas
- Macho, not women-friendly, emotionally undeveloped, spiritually empty
- Nationalistic rather than planet-oriented
- They don’t like Left or Right political meetings or literature. Complain it’s all:
- Crummy group dynamics, factionalism
- Vicious infighting and power struggles
- Doctrinaire positions and rhetoric
- Self-justifying, psychologically naïve, projecting one’s evil onto the other side and denigrating others
- Old rhetoric no one believes any more
- Not interested in rebuilding community
- Left’s favorite solutions look ineffectual, and the Right’s look harmful
- What they want: Big themes
- Good hard news political coverage
- More psychological maturity in politics and in the media
- Promote ecological sustainability
- Better education for all the children
- Better health care; cleaner food, air and water; less risk of environmental illness
- Get big corporate money out of politics
- Beyond moralizing and economic payoffs, to serve their new concerns
- New rules of the game, & better players
The New Political Compass © Paul H. Ray, 2003 www.culturalcreatives.org