Think of this as Volume 12, Number 5 of A-Clue.com, the online newsletter I've written since 1997. Enjoy.
A keen understanding of this point is what makes a President a truly transformative leader.
Consider the history of the last thesis, what I call the Nixon Thesis of Conflict. Richard Nixon defined that Thesis, and injected the poison of his paranoia into it. But it was Ronald Reagan who validated it, by defining his own views as the political center and forcing Democrats to lean against that assumption.
People like Howard Dean resented being considered "leftist" because in pre-Reagan terms they were not. Dean was for balanced budgets, for simple conservation, for efficiency, and for a foreign policy Arthur Vanderberg would have recognized.
But protest doesn't work, it does not transform. What transforms is leadership:
- Through organization, as Andrew Jackson practiced it.
- Through words, as Abraham Lincoln practiced it.
- Through personal example, as Theodore Roosevelt practiced it.
- Through actions and calls to unity, as Franklin Roosevelt practiced it.
Reaganism was a synthesis of all these things. He was a master of using a relatively new medium, television, to turn what had been considered right-wing kant into a new American consensus we have lived under from that day to this.
President Obama, to his credit, has studied and intuited all this history. He is already demonstrating how transformation is possible even in the face of cynicism, paranoia, and ideology.
Welcome to the new era. Welcome to the Obama Thesis of Consensus.
Let's take a look inside and see how it works.
The best place to start lies in the current debate over health reform.