A Liberal Failure of Imagination

Posted on Posted in Basic Income, moral psychology, Uncategorized

Conservative rhetoric is fear based. Fear of terrorists, and foreign countries, and immigrants who will destroy the economy, and society being over run by drug addicts is drugs are decriminalized, and gay people taking over the country if gay marriage is legalized

Liberal rhetoric calls us not to act out of fear but to act out of the vision of a different reality. It is about dreaming of a better world. It is about working towards goals and possibilities that do not yet exist.  It asks up to envision a better world and then act to create that world.

It is fairly common knowledge at this point that there is biological basis for this difference. Below is an excerpt from an article from Psychology Today:

Peering inside the brain with MRI scans, researchers at University College London found that self-described conservative students had a larger amygdala than liberals. The amygdala is an almond-shaped structure deep in the brain that is active during states of fear and anxiety. Liberals had more gray matter at least in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region of the brain that helps people cope with complexity. . . Most societies are divided into a party that wants change (the more liberal party) and one that is afraid of change (the conservatives). The liberal party is generally more intellectual and the conservative party is more anti-intellectual. The conservative party is big on national defense and magnifies our perception of threat, whether of foreign aggressors, immigrants, terrorists, or invading ideologies like Communism. To a conservative, the world really is a frightening place.

It is no secret that liberals have been losing the battle of words in recent history, although Obama’s election as president is one major victory in recent history. Thinking back to his campaign, his first campaign, it was the power of his words, his rhetoric that was reminiscent of great speakers and visionaries like Dr. Martin Luther King Junior and the founders of the United States that inspired voters.

Visions are extremely powerful. Religions and religious leaders have used visionary and inspirational rhetoric since the dawn of humanity to inspire people to action. Political leaders from Hitler to Stalin to Mussolini to Moa have used powerful rhetoric to inspire millions of people with their vision of a better future for themselves and their country. Political activists and like Dr. King, Nelson Mandela, and so many others in various social justice movements have inspired many to fight for basic human rights in various countries and segments of the population.

An inspiration leader can provide a vision that is powerful enough to inspire even some conservatives. That is really what you have to do to win an election right? Get as many people from your party to vote for you as possible, and win over the moderates or a at least a few moderates from the opposing party. A compelling vision does both, it inspires a higher voter turnout from people in one’s own party and also wins over some moderates and some of the more moderate members of your opposing side.

But here in the United States as of late liberals have lacked a clear vision for the future. We need a vision for the future that ties all the liberal policies together. Why do we want to raise taxes and fight income inequality? Why is climate change and sustainability such an important issue? Outside of platitudes what are we really about? What kind of future do we envision for our children and how can we make that happen?

The answer to those two questions are actually not that complicated. We envision a world without poverty and we can make that happen through providing a universal basic income. And to do that we need to raise taxes on the wealthy, spend less on defense, protect the environment, regulate banks and big corporations, and reform the health care system! It’s actually not that complicated. If we could do those five things we could radically transform the world.

Basic income should be the party platform of democrats. It is has the power to inspire in a way that no other idea can because it provides a context for democratic policies. This is a vision that would inspire democrats and moderates and maybe even a few libertarians and conservatives (there are good libertarian and conservative arguments for basic income).

Liberals need to be on the forefront of the basic income movement otherwise some conservative or libertarian will. Frankly, someone like Paul Ryan is a total moron for not making a negative income tax or a basic income his main campaign platform. That is a message that would actually connect with the poor and middle class American voters and inspire many to vote republican.



to receive notification of new posts via email and here about the latest updates on my book projects and other supercool awesome stuff.

2 thoughts on “A Liberal Failure of Imagination

  1. “Its just a ride, and we can change it any time we want, its only a choice, no effort, no work no job, job, no savings of money, a choice right now between fear and love.

    “The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, and buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.

    “Heres what we can do to change the world right now to a better ride; Take all that money we spend on weapons and defence each year and instead spend it on feeding clothing and educating the poor of the world which it would many times over, not one human being excluded and we can explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”

    – Bill Hicks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *