It's Not Enough to Criticize Obama: Citizens Need to Take Action
Continued from previous page
Democracy is about empathy - caring about your fellow citizens, which leads to the principles of freedom and fairness for all. Empathy requires both personal and social responsibility. The ethic of excellence means making the world better by making yourself better, your family better, your community better, and your nation better. Government has two moral missions: protection and empowerment for all. To carry them out, government must be by, for, and of the people.
It's only a paragraph. The principles apply to all issues. That's the basis of a democracy movement. That's what separates a movement from a coalition. Coalitions are based on interests. Movements are based on principles. We need a movement that transcends interests and goes beyond coalitions.
Movements also transcend particular policies. The framing of moral principles comes first and the policies elaborate on the principles. The way to unite a movement is to form policies that carry out the principles in ways that everyone can understand.
The time is now
We have a triple disaster on our hands: the administration's failure at deal-making in the name of pragmatism and bipartisanship; the Tea Party victory in Massachusetts fueling and propelling ultra-conservatism; and the anti-democratic 5-4 ruling of the Roberts Court. We can no longer sit on our hands and just criticize the President, or give him advice and hope he can do it alone. We have to provide the answer to his question: Where's the movement?
George Lakoff is the author of Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate ' (Chelsea Green). He is Professor of Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley and a Senior Fellow of the Rockridge Institute.