That's the name for the new progressive political force behind the Obama phenomenon, or so says David Eaves, a guy I've had the pleasure of playing a hand or two of poker with in the past (I won't comment on David's playing style, except to say he's an "all in" kind of guy). In an essay
in last September's Literary Review of Canada, David and Taylor Owen chart progressivism's "end" and they single out how the entrenched interests of the traditional Left have contributed to a progressive politics that is "out of touch and ineffective." The NDP's recent attack on carbon taxes would be a prime example of this.
They go on to observe that the creative class in cities is finding avenues outside of traditional politics to make progressive change, and what's more, David and Taylor cite my own favourite employer, ForestEthics
, as being an organization leading the neo-progressive approach when it comes to the environment.
I agree with a lot of the essay, and though I'd be hesitant to label myself as "neo" anything given the historical baggage of the term, I remember the concept resonating strongly with me when David and I talked about it at this past year's Social Change Institute, a place where the tension between the traditional Left and "neo-progressives" was palpable, and not necessarily bridged, though we all left with a resolve to do better.
Here's what David and Taylor say about Obama:
"Obama recognizes that giving voice to a neo-progressive agenda holds the potential to form the core of a new governing coalition. Like progressives at the turn of the 20th century, he not only speaks to Democrats but also actively reaches out to pragmatically driven Republicans and independents. Specifically, he appeals to those who neither fear markets nor see government as a panacea, but who value a society that provides equal opportunity. Obama is not governing from the middle: he is capitalizing on a transformation of the ideological spectrum."
I recommend reading the full essay. It's a handy read for attempting to conceptualize the political changes we're all sensing but can't quite put our finger on.