Just Nation Movement
Introduction: The right has declared war on American democracy --- necessitating commensurate kinetic response backed by organization and strategy. This is a long, boring strategy document filled with military jargon -- that nonetheless fills a critical gap in liberal and progressive democracy preservation capability. We intend it to catalyze a new movement that includes you and your organization as prime movers.
How to Win: Winning requires a sufficient mass to prevail over adversarial forces. Mass is generated via a movement and a compelling strategy. The winning strategy for a movement compels the mobilization of people who are currently fence sitting. It also requires a vectoring of the mobilized mass towards a common objective.
No single existing progressive movement, or the Democratic Party, has or can mobilize sufficient mass to preserve American democracy by itself. Thus, we propose that they come together under the banner of the “Just Nation Movement” (which we describe in this document), putting aside their policy disputes until the danger has subsided.
Fear is the primary reason people remain immobilized. Major fears include loss of employment, status, “place” in community and family, and in the perceptual construct known as society.
The right has brilliantly characterized every progressive movement in a manner that precludes each from achieving substantially higher mobilization levels – and has also deployed brilliant tactics to isolate each from each other. The bad guys thoroughly understand the concept of mass.
Only a movement and objective that removes the element of fear and enables mobilization of the un-mobilized will generate the additional mass required to preserve democracy.
What’s in it for existing progressive organizations that already have their own momentum? First, their very existence is at stake. The ACLU, for instance, will not survive the turn towards totalitarianism. In fact, the freedom and even lives of its membership may be at stake. Second, they don’t lose anything through this combinatorial effort – they are basically capped out recruiting-wise already. Finally, post-mobilization and post-vanquishing of the right, this new group of more fearless, mobilized Americans will be good recruits for the more single-issue organizations. Thus, we frame this collaboration as a necessary step in the near term, and a prudent investment in the future. Progressive organizations must come to see that the lack of an overarching movement and strategy is not their fault – but that its establishment should now be their overriding concern.
Now back to strategy for a minute. A strategy has many purposes; it indicates a seriousness of purpose; it serves as a rally point for mobilization of resources and energy; it serves as a powerful amplifier of resources and energy through focus and the reduction of waste; it indicates perseverance to adversaries, and it bolsters that of its adherents. But most importantly, it signals worthiness of the cause and the single-minded intent to fight for it no matter the opposition -- to adversaries, to third parties, and most important of all, to its own ‘troops.”
Republicans have a strategy, Democrats do not. The Republican strategy is replete with achievable objectives, campaign plans, resourcing options, communications plans, and flexible tactics. Republicans even have a long-term, if hidden, meta objective known as an “ideality.” Their ideality is the maximum possible accrual of power and money for its elite with the least possible accrual of responsibility, transparency, and accountability. Achieving this has been their utopian objective for over fifty years, and they have all but achieved it with the left firing nary a shot in defense.
Characteristics of Effective Strategies:
· Rest upon detailed and actionable situational understanding of the transactional environment (the conceptual battlespace where competition occurs). Our most recent Intelligence Estimate confirms that the right maintains information superiority over what we call the Democratic-Progressive Ecosystem (DPE), and that few DPE members have a sufficiently deep understanding of the right’s strategy to counter it effectively.
· Identify, characterize and account for all relevant factors influencing the environment and domain of action (in this case, politics and economics). Our Intelligence Estimate determined that even fewer DPE members have any feel at all for the complex system dynamics impacting their work. Indeed, they seem thoroughly shocked by Donald Trump and everything the right has been doing since the Nixon Administration, whereas a relatively simple intelligence analysis illustrates not only why Republicans do what they do, but also what they are likely to do next.
· Are based on trans-disciplinary domain knowledge with deep subject matter expertise in each domain. While Democrats have long and rightly prided themselves on deep legal, policy and comparative government expertise, their lack of knowledge of systems, modeling, simulation, AI and other technologies, Big Data, and evidence-based analytical techniques is putting them at a distinct disadvantage as the right’s deep pockets enable them to quietly exploit knowledge and capabilities in these areas.
· Have clear and complimentary objectives, tactics, principles and effectiveness measures. I couldn’t tell you in simple terms what the long-term Democratic strategy and agenda is, by what means they hope to achieve it, or how they measure success.
· Are target-centric and results oriented, yet simultaneously extensible and feedback-oriented. There is no evidence that Democrats ever effectively leverage election feedback in a rigorous and comprehensive manner. What we see mostly is bewilderment, denial and external blame -- followed by execution of the same old losing strategy and tactics. If the Democratic Party were a business, it would be losing money most years, and never providing its stakeholders with sufficient Return on Investment.
· Are aligned in all aspects to the resources that can be brought to bear. The groundswell of support (money and votes) for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, compared with that afforded Hillary Clinton in 2016, is a major proof point that creating a sense of urgency commensurate with the actual threat is a high leverage tactic that Democrats need to become comfortable with. But Democrats did not leverage the money or people support fully, nor did they show proper appreciation for it. They take it for granted because they’ve grown fat and lazy as one of two parties atop a very rich nation with a money-fueled electoral process. Asking people for their money and to vote every four years is both too much to ask when you provide no results in return, and yet too little because a robust Democracy requires the continuous harnessing and vectoring of energy towards the continuous improvement of the policy without which entropy takes over and, well, produces things like Trumpism.
· Leverage partisan advantages easily, while simultaneously constraining the opposition’s advantages. Democrats seem afraid of – and often disdainful of - their own most effective and numerous resources: progressive-minded Democratic politicians and citizens. Effectively led, that plurality is unstoppable. Ineffectively led, it is being thwarted by a determined minority. Evidence for this conclusion includes: the tepid support for, and sometimes even opposition to, the so-called “Squad” by Nancy Pelosi and other high-ranking Democrats; the failure to threaten Republicans with massive civil action in response to illegal actions, un-democratic political tactics, and possible future violations; and the failure to energetically support -- morally and/or their own presence -- Black Lives Matter and other protest efforts. This is an issue primarily of control. Democratic leaders would rather be in control of the liberal agenda than win with shared control. This subtle but palpable principle is a leading cause of the liberal voter apathy leading to Trump’s 2016 victory.
· Deploy resources artfully against the opposition’s center of gravity. The Republicans’ center of gravity is its system of impunity. Democrats missed multiple opportunities to attack, and never did so comprehensively.
· Deliberately create an integrated ecosystem to enable the projection and protection of power. As noted above, Democrats have less than robust relationships with their own constituents and ecosystem partners. They have been slow to combine and leverage emerging sources of progressive energy -- which allows the Republicans’ dark money, system of impunity and rabid supporters to divide and isolate what would be an irresistible combined force.
It is long past time to stop waiting for the Democratic Party to develop a strategy, indeed, to lead in any meaningful manner. They are welcome as members of the Just Nation Movement coalition but cannot be allowed to usurp or retard it.
Proposed Action: We posit the requirement for a new American progressive movement combining the resources, goodwill and aspirations of extant liberal, progressive, human rights, democracy advocacy groups, and the Democratic Party. We suggest the Just Nation Movement is a useful placeholder name.
Approach: The strategy unfolds a phased approach, each with its own over-arching objective:
Phase 1 – “Save and Preserve.” Phase 1 objective is to live to fight another day. It is characterized by actions that: establish the movement as a strategic entity and power base; ensure the safety, security, and rights of citizens; halt the right’s momentum and seize initiative for the movement. Massive, continuous ecumenical protests, economic boycotts and work stoppages must figure prominently in this phase.
Phase 2 – “Stabilize.” Phase 2 primary objective is to establish a societal framework preventing erosion of progress. It is characterized by a transition from total representative to increasingly participative democracy; a new Constitution; a new framework for justice; mutual accountability of citizens and officials to national commitments, agreements, laws, and objectives with justly enforced sanctions.
Phase 3 - “Flourish.” Phase 3 primary objective is to optimize the wellbeing of citizens and our global ecosystem. It is characterized by: the establishment of mutually reinforcing objectives and their relentless pursuit through all societal mechanisms.
Call to Action:
What does the journey to save American Democracy look like?
First order of business is standing up the Just Nation Movement. We recommend that the leaders of the ACLU, NAACP, Southern Poverty Law Center, Black Lives Matter, and Women’s Rights Movements, rapidly: establish a coalition including themselves and other key progressive organizations; develop a strategy; mobilize resources in support of the strategy; and act decisively.
Second is establishing a near-term objective and plan of action that all Movement elements can align to, and whose achievement most signals real change, momentum, and the potential for ultimate victory over the forces of evil. Our analysis and modeling indicate that the most appropriate of these, in terms of both efficacy at retarding the momentum of the right, and mobilizing action, is the swift pursuit of justice, individual, systemic and institutional accountability, and the implementation of actual – vice aspirational -- rule of law.
While we leave many decisions as to tactics and sequencing to the emergent Movement leadership, prioritized attention must be given to Trump Administration legal violations, because it is the continued impunity from accountability that fuels the sense of hopelessness among progressives and emboldens the right. This intentional focus on the worst, most brazen criminal activities of the previous administration seizes the initiative from the right, creates a palpable deterrent to future criminal activity, and provides a much-needed rally point for the beleaguered left.
In addition to this immediate focus on the Trump Administration, the Movement should demand that the Justice Department, National, State and Local Law Enforcement begin swift and equitable enforcement of all laws already on the books. What we demand is action that establishes that no one is above the law, that criminals will be pursued vigorously and equitably regardless of their personal characteristics or the difficulty of securing a conviction, and that there be a defendable balance between the pursuit of white- and blue-collar criminals.
Why is this the best near-term Course of Action for the new Movement?
This objective will enable the movement to more effectively mobilize existing, frequently siloed movement bases towards a unifying, strategic objective. Further, by focusing on something as unassailable as accountability, justice, and rule of law, we posit an opportunity to expand the pool of potential movement participants, including ‘independents,’ former Republicans, and white men.
This is a cause the fence sitters can get behind without fear, that aligns with the long history of cause advancement, and that is safe from all but the most subtle retribution from employers, friends, and family. It is, in essence, a “soft way in” for large numbers of Americans who want to fight but are reluctant to throw down with the existing progressive organizations that have been unfairly characterized by the right.
In addition, this cause is wholly righteous and not tainted by special interests. The initial objective of “equitable justice” is unassailable -- and effectively unattackable from the right. It artfully steals the march from the right on the issue of crime – where the left is often most vulnerable.
This Course of Action aligns with our analyses and modeling results indicating that the rigorous pursuit of Justice is the vector most likely to blunt the right’s momentum and enable preservation of the American democratic system. In other words, it has the highest probability of winning.
Finally, what we are demanding can get done right now. No need to wait for legislation, next year’s budget, Congressional directives, etc. An additional incentive – we’re simply demanding accountability to what we’ve already agreed to as a nation and what theoretically we are paying our institutions to do. Our message to the DOJ and Law Enforcement: If you are not going to do what we’re paying you to do, we’re coming for you next.
Third, we’ve got to come to agreement on what we stand for -- our principles. To simply stand against Republicans, authoritarianism, and neoliberalism will not generate sufficient energy to prevail. We remember fondly the “Arsenal of Democracy” World War I slogan, but probably not the “Stop the Mad Brute” anti-German poster of the same period, right? It is also important to lay down what we really want beyond simply overcoming the reactionary forces now plaguing us, because it is just this lack of faith in and focus on the future that has opened the door to creeping authoritarianism.
Here is what we stand for:
Declaration for Democracy: “We the People of the United States: affirm life; embrace our civic responsibilities; and declare our support for Democracy, the United States as a democracy, the inalienable rights of people, and the enumerated Constitutional rights of American citizens. To honor those on whose shoulders we stand, preserve that which we have built, and leave the world a better place than we found it, we will defend all transgressions of our principles to the last full measure of devotion.”
Let’s examine our declaration in some detail:
The shoulders we stand on: first, the untold millions of people who advanced the cause by simply doing the right thing, whether that was just raising a good family, resisting tyranny of kings and tyrants, or refraining from exploiting others. Paradoxically to some, we owe the English heavily in this regard, as they led the way towards representative government and constraints on the use of power and led the charge against chattel slavery. Second, those who made defined contributions to American Democracy, including Salem Poor, Phyllis Wheatley, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Harriett Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, William Lloyd Garrison, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Susan B. Anthony, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Lyndon Johnson, and Stacey Abrams. Finally, those who served without public recognition in the cause to which we also now devote ourselves, with special consideration to those who were injured or lost their lives so that we might have a better world.
The value we seek to preserve: things are not perfect, far from it, even in the last best hope of earth -- and they were never so despite the revisionist history of white supremacists. But in the aggregate, people are freer, live longer, healthier lives, fear less violence from each other and their government, have more physical safety, have more agency and more opportunity to express themselves than the millions who came before us did. Thanks to previous social capital built, technology, representative government, democracy, the state of health care and its trends, international organizations, rule of law, and the signal contributions of the United States as global leader -- we can climb higher now and, in the future, than we could without all these things. To willingly give them up due to collective frustration, depression, ignorance, or religious belief is to turn our backs on all the good work, sacrifice, endured pain, and successful striving of our own species – it is in fact a collective suicide and a type of future genocide. These have not been the values of any religion, any serious ideology, or of America -- why are we so willingly accepting them now?
The better world we seek: includes all the following for all people -- now: democracy; equality of opportunity; dignity; compassion; justice and just outcomes; freedom from coercion and discrimination; lawfully bounded power. Am I describing a utopia? You bet. Why wouldn’t we seek that which we want and deserve? Why should we instead unconsciously ‘eat’ the dystopia shoved down our throats by those suffering from collective psychosis? That is the height of cowardice, and inconsistent with the spirit and sacrifice of those who came before us.
The things we’re willing to do: resolve to prevail; execute our civic responsibilities; inspire our allies; persuade the ignorant; buttress the faltering; fight and, if necessary, perish. We may appear to be in a post-truth, post-accountability, post-honor, post-commitment world -- but this is an illusion, a deliberately constructed ‘gain of function matrix’ created by a combination of neoliberalism, late-stage capitalism, evangelical eschatology, and political opportunism. Yet let us not compound this historical, suicidal, nihilistic heresy with our own naïve belief that “the moral arc of history bends towards justice” on its own – it bends towards equilibrium on its own, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so averred. The bending towards justice that does occur over time is not teleological, but, according to King and confirmed by our analysis -- the result of deliberate human action. We’re willing to join the long line of people who bent the arc -- with courage and in full recognition of the potential near-term futility of our efforts. The Revolutionary War, Civil War, and both World Wars started badly and looked grim for the ultimate victors – but this did not deter our forebears, and the grimness of our current situation must not deter us.
Strategy Composition: The strategy consists of: sequential phases as noted; Campaigns, long-term effort composed of multiple lines of effort organized to achieve a strategic objective; Lines of Effort that link multiple tasks and missions using the logic of purpose—cause and effect—to focus efforts toward establishing operational and strategic conditions; and tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs): tactic is the highest-level description of the behavior; techniques provide a more detailed description of the behavior in the context of tactic; and procedures provide a lower-level, highly detailed description of the behavior in the context of a technique, which cross-cut phases, campaigns and Lines of effort.
Assumptions and Hypotheses:
· The Republican Party won’t reform itself.
· Time works in favor of the right; demographics won’t outrun disenfranchisement efforts.
· The Supreme Court won’t save us; it will favor the right and will draw no red lines in support of democracy.
· Institutions won’t save us; they are teetering already.
· The Democratic Party won’t lead, in in some respects won’t even participate in executing, the strategy required for victory. They must be included and artfully leveraged; but cannot be allowed to constrain the movement.
· National political actions and election results not yoked to the movement’s strategy won’t change the balance of power or trend lines – they are simply “the noise before defeat.”
· Unguided citizens won’t learn fast enough; change fast enough or turn out in sufficient numbers to tilt the power balance.
· Liberal and Progressive Organizations will be reluctant to cooperate with each other.
· Small Wins, Momentum and Enrollment are the keys to victory.
· Hierarchical movement governance won’t work fast enough to prevail; a network structure is required.
· The right will not be constrained in tactics, level of violence or resource expenditure in this war. Progressives, however, will constrain themselves, in some cases unduly and unnecessarily, regardless of circumstance.
· The movement will be tactically and strategically weak in the near term; solid campaign plans leveraging emerging tactics will be keys to victory.
· Victory will be a close won thing in any event; engaging the enemy using this strategy must start now.
Proposed Movement Credo: Accept reality; acknowledge uncertainty; embrace diversity and inclusion; tolerate dissent; act with discipline
I think that replacing the whole Constitution is mistaken. Popular election of the President, no longer giving states equal representation in the Senate, and an amendment to end corporate personhood and money as speech might suffice. Achieving these reforms as Constitutional amendments might not be feasible, but the Compact of States, which would effectively end the likelihood of the winner of the popular vote losing in the Electoral College, is an example of sidestepping a problem with the Constitution.