Politicians, strategists, handlers, consultants, operatives -- phooey. If a political party wants to move the world online they have to understand the nature of the beautiful beast, and they have to understand individuals. Old-style marketing and campaigning are plastic -- the GOP is plastic -- ditto for the Democrat Party.
There's a political-realm-world of young people and independents, male and female, all different races, out there dying for honesty, transparency and connection, but Republicans have no language to reach them -- Republicans have no insight into the changing American. The voting automatons are gone, they malfunctioned, got a new heart, a new mind, and they're dancing as a blur in the corners the party's eyes.
But this is not simpy a call for a superficial image change for the Republican Party, with 4 stiff, white boys doing conservative hip-hop on Youtube, it's about a deep transformational change, and the Democrats could just as well make the change, with each party competiing to provide something much different to the public than power-mongering. The Democrats, however, believe they have youth and minorities sewn up and it's only a matter of messaging to win over independents -- also, progressive religous organizations are dediated to Democrats, but this is a small representation of spirituality in America, although a very vocal representation. I suppose that much depends on how religious minorities, which haven't been radicalized, respond to the statist changes in government.
I believe, and I've written about it several times, there's a great frustrated yearning among the American people that's spiritual in nature, and it's becoming more alienated from politics and government practice-as-usual. Although many on the right still have a strong connection with religion, this connection, as it relates to organized religion, has been broken and there's more individualistic spiritual expression among the public at large. This drift from organized religion and break with political expression has left a void, and the State continues to strengthen the separation of Church and State. There's also a concomitant public distrust of politics and government -- people are losing faith that government can do effectively what it tres to do regarding the creation of a better society. In some ways, people have drfted from both Church and State, where as once Church/State was a major guiding force in people's lives.
So I propose this leaves a spiritual void where humanitarian action is left frustrated and people disillusioned. The old connections with Church and State have broken, but aspirations remain. Charles Taylor wrote in A Secular Age:
Now if we don't accept the view that the human aspiration to religion will flag, and I do not, then where will the access lie to practice of and deeper engagement with religion? The answer is the various forms of spiritual practice to which each is drawn in his/her own spiritual life. These may involve meditation, or some charitable work, or a study group, or a pilgrimage, or some special form of prayer, or a host of such things.
For the purposes of this post, I'd like to look at how spiritual expression might be channeled through action related to charity, liberally using "charity" to mean something more broad and diverse than just giving money to charitable causes.
I've moved a long way from Riehl's post about blogging, but that was just a spark to address something much larger -- a new national mindset, transformed mainly through the reality of the internet and broad social connections, and the consequence of yearning for something much larger than local concerns. Our modern paradox is how to use political power to transform society into a force free from too-restrictive political power.
If the Republicans or the Democrats want to proactively head off a disaster, they'd be wise to forget the international/global schemes of power-brokers and pay attention to the American people -- the same could be said for France, Germany, etc., in relation to their people. The American people are on the verge of a new vision of freedom -- in its inchoate form it's scattered, undefined, directionless, but it's forming. For many, the spiritual deadends of Church and State have created a search for something more authentic and interactive, something which requires action and thought on the part of the individual. As I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, it was common for young, white male adults to feel guilty about their success, as they looked around and saw the struggles of minorities and women fighting against what looked like a rigged system. In the 80s and 90s, many of these young adults were in positions of political power to make changes which advanced equality. The problem is that political power grew into something ugly, and all the successful people who still wanted to help the less fortunate grew tired of having morality imposed on them, with the attendant ill-informed regulations imposed by cynical politicians playing an entirely different game of power-mongering. Not all the guilty white men were anti-capitalist radicals ready to overthrow the evil capitalist system, but, nonetheless, they've been willing to help and take a lot of government incompetence and cynical manipulation in the name of fairness.
Regardless whether State power was necessary at some point to help the poor, unfortunate and socially oppressed, the year now is 2010 and it's a different world. Statism has not accomplished as much as promised, no where near it, and it's caused a great deal of damage to the economy and basic freedoms. Today we need a new vision of freedom. Freedom to succeed financially was empty a long as people were left behind, and it's just as empty now as poor people are herded into ghettoes, tied to government checks and burnt-out caseworkers.
It's beginning to dawn on many people that capitalism and free markets are not the problem -- they know that a vibrant free economy is necessary to achieve practically all our societal goals, and that statism has failed and has only addressed the symptoms in society while leaving fundamental problems untouched -- plus, the anti-capitalist direction is moving us closer to collpase.
Our future is not a New World Order under the guidance of Global Masters, it's free people in free states competing and cooperating, sharing culture and ideas in order to create the better world. The majority of people are ready for this responsibility and have the capacity to achieve something much greater than what we have. America should take the lead -- one of the parties will have to wake up and recognize the underlying power pushing to rise and step forward. The internet has connected us all and broken the isolation of local control -- it will break regional control, national control and prevent global control.
The government of the future should be a government which provides the protective framework for private sector action. Right now we have 15 million people unemployed -- this is a disgrace. The new vision of freedom entails a free market, private sector safety nets, job training, creative education, smart production which cuts down on pollution, free trade, care for the disabled, non-intervention, an end to corporate welfare, innovative retirement/savings plans, and more, all based on a strictly limited government and a private sector challenged to create an ever-improving society of equal opportunity. Those who don't believe the American people can accomplish this are either out-of-touch or prefer statism for selfish reasons.
What does this have to do with the internet, blogging, the GOP, the Democrat Party and spirituality? I'll try to lay it out in the next few days as I envision it.