Can a Currency Be Partisan?

We typically regard the word partisan from a perspective of left versus right. But it can also refer to upper versus lower. Partisans near the top of the political circle are characterized by centralized control. Those near the bottom believe in emergent organization, created through citizen interaction.

The circle moderates between two fundamentally different axes. The upper and lower poles create one, while the left and right poles create another. The vertical concerns itself with power (specifically, top down organization versus bottom up systems). The horizontal addresses our values choices …… which feature a conflict between liberal and conservative (aka: maternal and paternal).

Every position on the circle is partisan. The conventional approach to this term is inadequate, therefore, because it fails to address whether an entity is vertically partisan, or horizontally partisan.

For example, if a position is near the right or the left poles, it orients toward values: the partisanship is horizontal ……

Similarly, positions near the top or bottom poles orient toward power. They must be regarded as vertically partisan ……

Every American makes a choice about their personal values and about their power preference. Therefore, a position on the circle can represent a single person. But large aggregations of people can also form an entity that holds a position on the circle. The Federal Reserve is one such organization. It attempts to sit on the top pole of the political spectrum …… a difficult location to hold.

Since all positions on the circle are partisan, then, by definition, the Federal Reserve’s position is included. It has long claimed to be non-partisan, however …… an assertion that could only be true if left and right were the sole metrics defining partisanship. But the Fed’s position on the circle makes it vertically partisan: central banks wield centralized power.

This begins to address the question posed above: Can a currency be partisan? The answer is revealed when you open your wallet. The dollar inside is called a “Federal Reserve Note.” Therefore, it resides at the top of the circle …… formed in the image of its creator.

A contrasting set of currencies can be found at the bottom of the circle, where precious metals and cryptocurrencies reside. They too are partisan.

Max Keiser, a prominent Bitcoin investor, had this to say about the cryptocurrencies: “Bitcoin is a protest against fiat money, central banks, and authoritarianism.” “We made our own money. It has nothing to do with the state.” He describes a concept diametrically opposed to the dollar; an instrument engaged in citizen empowerment.

Notice that no currencies are found near the left or right poles. They reside only at the top and the bottom. Money is power: it’s politics run vertical.

Conflict has always existed between competing currencies. And this dynamic has affected the stability of societies throughout history. Today, everyone blames America’s dysfunction on the partisan political parties in Washington DC. Perhaps we should also consider the partisans in our own pockets.

Note: For a related reference, see the recent post Centrists and Sasquatches.

Visualizing the Assault on Free Speech

Democratic Party elites and their allies smell blood, and they’re now accelerating the suppression of open debate. Amazon’s suspension of Parler brings the conflict into a new stage. How long until telephone carriers pick a side?

This situation can be confusing if you’re interpreting events using the outdated left-right model. But the dynamic makes more sense on an accurate paradigm.

Three principles lead to an understanding of the current attack: (1) Proximity of Positions, (2) Diametric Opposition, and (3) Neighborhood Alliances.

The DNC is posited below as the primary driver of the ongoing effort to muzzle opponents. But readers are free to assert a different (and perhaps deeper) driver instead, like The World Economic Forum, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, deep state actors, or another group.

No matter who leads the effort, this group – including tech monopolies, legacy media, entertainment activists, and academic elites – occupies a particular region on the circle. By definition, their proximity of positions causes them to think and act in unison.

Every position considers the opposite side of the circle to be an existential threat. Therefore, each position seeks to limit the political power of its cross-circle adversary. In this case, by the principle of diametric opposition, the lower right quadrant is a primary target of recent attacks ……

It’s often difficult for the lower right quadrant to participate in political coalitions because positions near the Citizist Pole favor emergent incrementalism and sometimes-chaotic self-organization. Nevertheless, they represent a resilient, persistent opponent to the centralizing liberals.

As a side note, Donald Trump is not a member of the lower right quadrant. In fact, it’s difficult to pin down his actual location because, like most politicians, his often-contradictory statements make him a moving target. But the DNC has correctly identified him as the symbol of an emerging threat to centralist hegemony: if they can remove him from the conversation, they can cut off one avenue of citizen-empowering communication.

But this doesn’t explain why many liberals are also having their accounts cancelled or demonetized by social media. These citizens aren’t even lukewarm supporters of Trump, but the DNC faithful still consider them to be a significant threat.

The explanation comes from the principle of neighborhood alliance: nearby locations tend to support their neighbors. Therefore, entities sitting high in upper left quadrant intuitively understand that the lower right quadrant could form a coalition with its lower left neighbors. Twitter, Google, and friends have placed a high priority on disrupting communication between these groups.

The centralizing liberals are less concerned with evangelical conservatives just now, since they’ve effectively “softened the target” for many years. But this is the first time the upper left quadrant has attacked fellow liberals on its own side of the circle.

In the near future, expect to witness increased efforts to compromise, co-opt, or demonetize voices like Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, Jonathan Haidt, John McWhorter, Caitlin Johnstone, and Joe Rogan …… among many others.

Note: two recent posts shed additional light on the above discussion. You can read them here and here.

Moving in Lockstep

Earlier this week, I mapped the locations of factions that are forming within today’s GOP. But the Republicans (with the notable exception of Donald Trump) have been reactive agents in the nation’s long-running conflict. It is the Democrats who typically take the initiative. Hence, they call themselves “progressives.”

The circle’s left side exhibits a different dynamic than the divisions on the right. Democratic leadership has constructed a uniform block of national and state politicians, capable of acting in unison. This group agitates for increases in centralized power. The surface presentation of these Beltway Believers is one of diversity. When viewed spatially, however, they occupy a specific location on the partisan spectrum. It’s characterized by uniformity.

It’s surprising how often the Democrat Party is conflated with liberal values …… as if they were one and the same. The same occurs on the right. But political parties must be analyzed separately from their brand.

The values of liberalism are more broad than the worldview of the party now purporting to represent them. And in recent years, many liberal members of America’s thinking class have begun to break away from the centralized factions of that tradition, using phrases like “lack of ideological diversity” or “diminished protection of free speech.” To get a general sense of some of these figures, read the Harper’s Letter to the Editor.

So, the Party has moved higher on the circle’s left side, while other self-described liberals are now entrenched within the low quadrant. Perhaps some occasionally vote with leadership, but a chasm has opened.

Another group of liberals also resides in the lower left quadrant, largely unacknowledged. Movements like permaculture, new urbanism, functional medicine, and local sourcing exhibit great energy and grassroots growth. But they’ve been forced to operate at the margins of political power.

Rather than embrace the intellectual ferment provided by low circle liberals, the party treats this quadrant as an unnecessary distraction to its top-down priorities. Instead, Democrat elites have crafted strong alliances with other centralized organizations, like major media, the tech monopolies, and agencies of the deep state.

Here again, unacknowledged allies aid this group. For example, centralizing Republicans frequently cooperate with DNC initiatives. And the Federal Reserve, while posing as “non-partisan,” enables party policies with its easy money approach.

This leaves many occupants of the circle’s left side with a difficult choice. Those who would normally sit at the liberal pole are often drawn to centralized policies because no other political representation is available. A move to lower positions would leave them with no power.

What impact does this have on the nation’s future? As the media continues to insist on a left-right interpretation of the political spectrum, the true battle is steadily morphing into a top-versus-bottom conflict. This situation has been correctly perceived by occupants of the lower quadrants, but those members still haven’t formed meaningful alliances.

The fate of the republic might hinge on whether liberals and conservatives of the lower quadrants can begin to generate political leverage where none currently exists.

Mapping the Republican Civil War

While the Democrats march in lockstep behind Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the impending election certification has exposed deep fissures between prominent Republicans in the US Congress. The positions of the three main conservative groups can be understood when placed on the political circle ……


Players like Mitt Romney, Pat Toomey, and former house speaker Paul Ryan have made their position clear over the past few weeks …… and over the past few years. They’ve also shown the terms Never-Trump and RINO to be near-synonyms. This group’s core characteristic is a deep faith in institutions – primarily corporations and the agencies of central government. In their view, to question entrenched election officials is to question the foundations of the American republic itself.

This group cloaks its views in statements about “democracy.” But their primary opposition is to Trump: they believe he’s an imposter, ill-fitted to lead the institutions they hold dear. Potential election malfeasance is a secondary issue to them.


It’s no coincidence that Josh Hawley of Missouri, the first senator to publicly object to the electors, was raised as a Methodist, attended a catholic high school, and now identifies as an evangelical. Not all of the (initial) twelve senators to contest the tally self-label so stridently as religious, but they do populate the middle of the circle’s right side. This zone will identify with centralist initiatives at times, but it also maintains contact with the party’s more libertarian members.

As has been addressed in previous posts, there is no such thing as a “centrist,” despite the efforts of folks like Mitt Romney to pose as moderates. But if there were to be a center wing of the Republican Party, it would be geometrically defined as those who occupy the area near the right pole. They are neither authoritarian nor anarchic. And they’re surrounded by conservatives on both “sides” – both above and below.

This group has traditionally supported Trump. But the election issue is still primary to them because they see potential fraud as a threat to democratic rule. Note that their stand has been labeled as a calling of conscience …… a hallmark of the values axis to which they hold proximity.


Figures like Senator Tom Cotton and Representative Thomas Massie have stated that they will not oppose the election results, which likely comes as a surprise to many observers. This stand would seem to place them in alliance with figures like Romney and Toomey, but their actual locations, and views, are quite the opposite. This is the libertarian wing of the party, and their reluctance isn’t so much to Trump himself (Cotton has been an especially strong supporter over the past four years) but to the prospect of handing even more control to a centralist-leaning organization like the US Congress. They believe a congressional intervention would take power away from the citizens over the long haul.


The most disengaged group over the past two months has been the citizen-empowering liberals …… with the exception of their requests that Trump issue pardons to Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. As occurred during the election campaigns, these figures, like Tulsi Gabbard, Glenn Greenwald, and the Unity 2020 group, seem to believe they have no dog in this fight. When positions are plotted on the circle, this makes sense, because they’re equidistant from both presidential contenders.

I find myself writing about this group far more often than any other, despite the fact that I don’t hold membership in their quadrant, and they currently hold the least political power. I address them frequently because they’re likely to become the most important coalition throughout the remainder of the current fourth turning.

This group should be taking a very close look at the facts being presented by Team Trump regarding fraud. If the authoritarian tendencies of the upper left quadrant do manifest as some have expected (including them), members of this group would be the most at-risk to join Snowden and Assange as information dissidents.

The one exception in this quadrant has been James Howard Kunstler, who perceives an existential threat from the DNC and has taken a bold position against its actions.

In the end, potential alliances (and their outcome) will hinge on whether Team Trump can present a smoking gun to the American citizens. To date, Trump’s effort has generated levels of doubt acceptable to his supporters …… but not to others. He’ll need to produce evidence that causes the non-MAGAs to alter their current assessment.

Republicans and Democrats

Every politically engaged person answers two Fundamental Questions. No one is exempt. And yet, our national discourse attempts to ignore this truth. The majority of prominent political figures acknowledge only one Fundamental Question.

For example, Mitt Romney, pretends to address only the Values Question, where his paternal leanings classify him as a conservative. But Romney is also focused on the Power Question, though he acts as if it’s not a priority. His history indicates an attraction to concentrated capital and centralized control …… in organizations like Bain Capital, the U.S. Executive Branch, and the Mormon hierarchy. This places his political position near the circle’s top, though he’d rather have us believe he’s a right-leaning “moderate.”

Most mainstream political figures are similar to Romney. They pretend to be all about Values while covertly coveting Power. But they’re not the only figures who answer both Questions. Everyone does ……

Lindsay Graham: Conservative Values. Centralized Power. Upper Right Quadrant.

Hillary Clinton: Liberal Values. Centralized Power. Upper Left Quadrant.

Jordan Peterson: Conservative Values. Citizen-based Power. Lower Right Quadrant.

Joe Rogan: Liberal Values. Citizen-based Power. Lower Left Quadrant.

Large groups of individuals, working in unison, also submit answers to both Questions. In these cases, a similar dynamic often applies: a prominent institution might focus on one Question while largely ignoring the other. The Federal Reserve is one such entity: its emphasis has traditionally been on the execution of its vast, top-down financial and economic control. Only recently has it dipped a toe into the tepid waters of climate change and woke values.

The Fed could be forgiven for engaging in a limited approach because its mission, as designated by Congress, is to focus on a particular form of Power. In other cases, however, the tunnel vision is far less honest. For example, one of the Fundamental Questions is often ignored, intentionally, by America’s two political parties. Here again, Power is their prime concern. But they steer the collective conversation toward an exclusive focus on Values, much like an adult distracts an uncooperative toddler with “Look! A Balloon!”

The goal – for both major political parties – is to guide the citizens into a one-dimensional view of the world, where the liberal versus conservative Values Debate is paramount. Meanwhile, the duopoly quietly grants itself far-reaching, concentrated powers.

But the parties’ prime concern is far different than their left-right grandiloquence would indicate: each wants to gain a tighter grip on Centralized Power. The public rhetoric is belied by their choice of allies – the Wall Street Bankers, corporate CEOs, K Street lobbyists, and media personalities who participate in their consolidation of control.

The top of the circle sees itself as the active player in the American citizen’s affairs. By default, therefore, it looks at the wider population as passive recipients of top-down policy. Sometimes, the pacifying efforts take the form of economic handouts. Other times, outcomes are mandated more directly. At still other times, scaremongering is pursued, with the alleged threat alternating between a variety of potential bogeymen: sovereign nations, terrorists, environmental catastrophes, gun mischief, and the like.

Only rarely does Centralized policy help the common American to become more resilient, more aware, more informed, more self-sustaining, or more willing to question the dominant paradigm. Dependence is the usual goal.

In contrast, for those who reside in the lower half of the circle, qualities like transparency, initiative, incrementalism, resilience, and innovation are regarded as basic rights and responsibilities. They see their own quadrants as the rightfully active participants in America’s governance, and they seek to force the oligarchs into a more passive role.

At its heart, this is a conflict about agency. And agency aligns with the political circle’s vertical axis. The top believes everyone should operate under its auspices. The bottom thinks each citizen should be responsible for their own actions …… and should contribute to the health of their own community.

This growing conflict is causing Americans to leave both political parties in droves. Thus, in a pattern resembling Californians leaving their homes for a fresh start in a new state, rank-and-file Republicans and Democrats are steadily declaring themselves independent of their former party loyalties.

The sequences unleashed by such changes are difficult to predict. Loyalties are shifting and coalitions are realigning. One thing is now clear, though: the needs, rights, and responsibilities of the citizen will remain secondary in Washington and Wall Street until the political parties are compelled, from the outside, to address bottom up power.

If the republic is to survive, the duopoly will have to stop pretending that only left and right matter. They’ll need to come clean on the country’s other Fundamental Question.

The Presidency

2020’s campaign rhetoric was threadbare and tiresome before it even launched. “Joe Biden is diminished and corrupt.” “His running mate couldn’t make it to the primaries.” “Trump is a racist misogynist xenophobe.” “His VP wants America to become A Handmaids Tale.”

We’ve heard similar statements in past presidential elections, but the negativity grows with each cycle. Whether we’re voting on Trump, Romney, McCain, or Bush ……. Biden, Hillary, Obama, Kerry, or Gore ….. each side seeks to discredit the opposing candidate. “This person isn’t qualified to hold the office.”

While our attention is drawn to specific individuals within the current news cycle, the longer arc of history gets overlooked. For example, George Washington presided over three cabinet level secretaries and one attorney general. In contrast, today’s federal government has more than 2000 departments, agencies, administrations, authorities, and commissions, employing as many as 9.1 million people. The bulk reside under the executive branch …… and therefore, the president.

The following chart serves as a rough proxy for growth of the office’s power since the 1930s. Note the “massive spending” for the existential threat of World War II at the far left side ……

Chart Credit: Wikideas1 (CC BY-SA 4.0) Data Source:

This revenue and spending chart tracks actual numbers. But it also functions as a metaphor for the intensity of our emotions. Every four years, we encounter “the most important election in American history.” The statement might seem hyperbolic, but its assertion is supported by the data: our reactions ratchet up each cycle because vast additional resources have come under a specific person’s control.

Regardless of political party or personal character, each president is able to issue executive orders, to appoint long-serving judges, and to prod congress into passing budgets that meet his or her policy priorities …… a few of the many dominions administered by the office. This enormous expanse of power has been granted over a period measured in generations. Control has gradually been concentrated in a particular location.

When we correctly perceive that a single individual, whom we’ll likely never meet, will make crucial decisions about our lives, it causes our assessment of that person to change. Normal human missteps are magnified. Forbearance and forgiveness carry too much risk. Thus, much of the country considers the Democratic candidate to be a loathsome force. And a different piece of the populace takes the same view about the Republican.

Is it any wonder the stakes feel so high every four years? Is it surprising to see the political parties pursue dishonest and illegal tactics when so much control is at stake? Why wouldn’t we be concerned about the person who captures all that power? One character flaw could have existential ramifications.

This situation has been accepted as a given. When the next cycle comes around, we brace for greater conflict. But, as the graph shows, the conundrum is of our own making. There are other options. For example, how often have you heard the phrase “not my governor” in your state? Or …… has “the resistance” ever developed against your town’s mayor? Many people don’t even know the names of their local leaders. Those officials don’t hold enough power to impact our lives. We focus instead on the real action …… in Washington DC, New York City, or Silicon Valley.

To investigate this collective blind spot, it’s helpful to examine the language each campaign crafts to combat its opponent. The core message – for both sides – remains unchanged through every election cycle: “The other candidate isn’t qualified to hold the office.” This sentence contains two nouns. The first is candidate. The second is office. In each election, all of our attention is drawn to the first noun. None is drawn to the second.

If Americans are going reverse the growing dysfunction that currently plagues our society, the second noun will require some analysis. We’ll need to determine just how much power one office should control.

Unfortunately, the presidency is only one component within a long march toward the centralization of power in America. Real control is concentrated in just a few institutions, locations, and players. They increasingly determine the narrowing framework within which our lives are conducted.

Today, in November 2020, our fate is once again being determined at the national level. It is occurring under questionable circumstances and intense emotions. We’ve been stuck in this pattern for many cycles. Do we want it to continue?

Before 2024 rolls around, we might want to ask: “Just how much power should a small group of people be granted over the rest of us?”

Greenwald v. Intercept

As we all learned in grade school math, when a negative is multiplied by a positive, the end result is a negative. The principle applies to politics as well: when a bad paradigm is paired with some very smart people, a bad outcome should be expected. Thus, we observe the messy divorce between Glenn Greenwald and The Intercept.

The question this situation presents isn’t “Why did they break up?” Instead, we should ask what would cause intelligent people with mismatched agendas to get together in the first place. The answer is clear if you’ve put much thought into the structure of political paradigms: it seemed like a good idea under America’s deficient, one-dimensional model of partisanship ……

This narrow, flatland approach to partisan positioning makes the two parties’ differences seem incidental. Sure, Greenwald occasionally acts the centrist by appearing on right leaning media, but those are mere quirks of his genius, correct? Likewise, The Intercept has placed all its chips on blue with the woke agenda, but that isn’t so inconsistent with Greenwald’s outlook, is it?

When their views sort on a better model, the structural differences in their outlooks become clear. The power axis clarifies just how far apart their worldviews actually are.

Both parties hold to liberal values. Therefore, they sort to the left side of the circle. But their orientation toward power differs. This places their locations far apart. Greenwald has championed transparency and free speech, regardless of personal cost. These, and other qualities of citizen empowerment, place him low within the lower left quadrant. In contrast, The Intercept’s orientation is more neo-Marxist. It finds a home quite high in the upper left quadrant …… the home of centralized solutions.

It’s likely that their conflict has been intensifying for a very long time. And the breaking point might have been spurred by an election season move of the news site upward on the circle …… a location even higher than the one shown above. It’s difficult for two parties to resolve their conflicts when there are too many degrees of separation between them.

Greenwald’s position in relation to the news site he founded is one of many misunderstandings created by a deeply flawed paradigm. Such confusion is resolved by shifting to a two-dimensional construct. For example, Tucker Carlson has moved lower on the circle in recent years. Thus, Greenwald’s position is closer to Carlson’s than it is to The Intercept ……

Substack will be a better home for Greenwald than the Intercept ever was. But can he exert effective leverage on the political landscape within that format? Only time will tell. But this is actually a secondary concern: his switch to a new site is less important than a switch to a better political paradigm.

As for The Intercept, expect a deeper purge in the near future, as Greenwald’s low quadrant allies fail to meet the purity standards the news site now requires.

The Future of Unity 20xx

The Unity movement was (and is) a noble concept initiated by a courageous figure, the evolutionary biologist Bret Weinstein. While there’s a need for its impact to continue beyond 2020, all efforts aimed at the current election have been suspended. So, why was the initial initiative a long shot? And what will need to change for the movement to gain traction?

Despite its superior motives, Unity 2020 stalled for the same reason the political system is failing: participants can’t draw productive distinctions within their discourse because our political language is based on a much-too-limited spatial model. For example, here’s how the major party candidates distribute along today’s one-dimensional spectrum ……

The positions of Biden and Trump aren’t that far apart on this construct. One sits to the right of center. The other is to the left of center. Significantly, there’s really no place for the views of a Unity member on this line.

When the major party candidates are placed on a two-dimensional model, their positions still aren’t that far apart ……

But the locations of people attracted to the Unity platform can be plotted on the broader construct. Note that the two duopoly candidates are far closer to one another than they are to Unity’s positions ……

Unity 2020 sought to draft additional presidential contenders because its members’ distribute to the greatest possible distance from Trump and Biden. A geometric relationship was at work, in which the probability of a push-back was highest at this location on the circle. The typical Unity views on free speech, the oligarchy, data dissidents, and other issues reside quite far from those of the establishment.

I was concerned about Unity’s approach when its initial language seemed to reference “centrist” new candidates from the left and right. Centrism is a damaging concept, as has been outlined in previous posts, like Centrists and Sasquatches, because the so-called centrist usually supports an increased centralization of power. The terminology was apparently removed from Unity’s website, though.

Unfortunately, the deeper issues underlying the centrism paradox can’t be fixed until a two-dimensional model is adopted. This problem manifested early in the Unity effort, when certain candidates were proposed, despite holding views that reside near the circle’s top.

William McRaven staunchly defended deep state member John Brennan and served loyally in the Obama and Bush administrations. His criticisms of Trump were popular, but they didn’t express a desire to empower citizens who sit low on the circle. Instead, he railed against Trump’s personality, as well as Trump’s policies regarding American interests abroad.

Likewise, the centerpiece of Andrew Yang’s campaign, Universal Basic Income, would require additional bureaucracies, regulations, and enforcement. It follows the path of centralism in positing citizens as passive recipients of administrative aid, rather than as assertive activists on their community’s behalf. The endorsement of Jack Dorsey, a tepid supporter of free speech (at best), solidifies Yang’s credentials as a centralizer of power ……

In contrast to these concerns, the vote on draft candidates was a solid indication of Unity’s longer-term viability. The two leading choices – Tulsi Gabbard and Dan Crenshaw – hold lower quadrant positions ……

The exact placement of these two figures on the circle is something that could (and should) be debated. Perhaps one or both of them actually orient lower …… or maybe higher. But it seems clear that Crenshaw is a citizen-empowering conservative and Gabbard is a citizen-empowering liberal. In fact, Gabbard’s views are nearly “diametrically opposed” to McRaven’s, based on her opposition to policies he supported under previous presidents. In contrast, the positions of Gabbard and Crenshaw are in close proximity to one another …… perhaps even closer than shown in the diagram above.

Thus, the proposed draft candidates hold positions that are closer to Unity 2020 positions than are Biden and Trump’s ……

A joint ticket of Gabbard and Crenshaw would have aligned with the Unity movement’s goals, but sadly, we won’t get to see how they fare against the duopoly’s candidates. Instead, as things now stand, Unity members will function as crucial swing voters in the November 3 election.

If it chooses, Unity could have a bright future. New organizations are required to give a voice, and structure, to the growing wave of like-minded citizens. There’s also a need to build new inter-axis alliances between the circle’s lower quadrants. These are tasks at which Unity could excel moving forward …… if it relies on a two-dimensional model of political positioning.

Kunstler’s Commitment

The verdict is in, folks. James Howard Kunstler has made his decision on the 2020 election. He’d rather have gonorrhea than cholera.

In a recent column, Kunstler stated he’ll vote for Donald Trump over Joe Biden this November. His choice isn’t so much a vote “for” the orange man. Instead, it’s a vote “against” the hypocrisy, gaslighting, and grift of today’s Democratic Party.

His thesis was thorough in its indictment of the DNC. But it’s even more significant as an early indicator of November’s results. Kunstler is typically one of the first figures to correctly assess a complex, evolving situation. His choice tells us the swing voters of 2020 are more likely to break toward Trump.

To understand who today’s swing voters are, we must first assess the political position of the current president …… as opposed to who he was as a past candidate. In 2016, Trump attacked the establishment as an outsider. His supporters saw him as an agent of change.

But now we’ve all witnessed four years of Trump’s association with figures like John Bolton, John Kelly, Rex Tillerson, and James Mattis. We’ve watched him jawbone the Fed’s top-down economic policies. We’ve seen the liberal use of executive orders. Trump has a track record. As president, he governs from a location far closer to the top of the circle than the 2016 candidate ever indicated.

The 2016 presidential race was the first election in generations to be decided along the power axis. That electoral result was a reaction to the authoritarian tendencies of Obama’s administration. And of Hillary Clinton’s commitment to a continuation of those policies.

In the general election of 2016, Trump’s position was lower than Hillary’s on the circle. This gave him a crucial advantage when voters calculated less on left versus right, and more toward top-down versus bottom-up.

The mainstream political analysis only interpreted that race in terms of liberal versus conservative, though. Hillary’s strategy in the general election followed the standard template: to control the “centrist sweet spot” in the middle of the one-dimensional left-right line. Since Trump didn’t fit the old paradigm, most pundits saw him as an inexplicable outlier candidate who was destined to lose. They realized too late that a new paradigm was governing voter preferences. Then their hastily planned countermove was to plant the panicked seeds of Russiagate and “the resistance.”

This obtuse and cynical reaction has not been lost on the majority of Americans through the ensuing four years, including many who are ambivalent about Trump. Thus, when we fast forward to 2020, polarization along the power axis is far more firmly entrenched. More folks realize that a battle is on between the credentialed class and the rest of the citizenry. The action is now vertical, not horizontal. Significant numbers of citizens have moved their positions downward on the circle.

If Trump had held more firmly to the tenets of his 2016 campaign, he would hold a major advantage today with the occupants of both lower quadrants. But those advantages have been diminished by his upward move on the circle.

In theory, Trump’s upward shift should have provided an edge to his opponent. Therefore, a simplistic assessment of the 2020 race would tell us that the democrat only needs to get lower on the circle than Trump. But Biden, following the DNC’s lead, has taken a position closer to the top pole.

“Simplistic” is the key word here, however, because elections aren’t won or lost based on simple geometry. Instead, a complex distribution of 130+ million positions must work itself out by early November. Groups of these positions often clump into nodes or clusters. Therefore, some aggregations, like the Never-Trumpers, are still located high in the upper right quadrant, similar to the typical positions of 20th Century Republican officials. Other players – members of the Woke Movement, for instance – have become even more authoritarian, thus moving upward within the upper left quadrant. Meanwhile, the vast majority of Americans are gradually moving downward on the circle, shifting from their previous higher positions on the right and the left.

This brings us to the swing voters of 2020. You’ll find these figures in a region equidistant between the two candidates, far down on the circle ……

The Democratic Party’s candidate has an advantage with this group because most of them either identify as liberal, or have historically voted with the democrats. But Biden has already squandered his best opportunity to gain their trust. If he had selected Tulsi Gabbard as his running mate, or even Andrew Yang, these voters would be more likely to look the other way on the Democratic Party’s growing authoritarian tendencies. But he didn’t.

I suspect that discussions with Gabbard progressed far further than anyone has fathomed. There must be figures among the DNC leadership attempting to stage interventions against the party’s intent to inflict self harm. But Biden couldn’t pick Gabbard (and , likewise, Gabbard wouldn’t entertain an alliance with Biden) for the very reasons outlined in Kunstler’s essay. The party has fully committed to a woke version of authoritarianism.

So …… now we wait for other figures near the bottom pole to break for one candidate or the other. They include members of the intellectual dark web, and signers of the Harper’s letter on free speech. Many free-thinking citizens are joining them. And it’s increasingly likely they’ll reluctantly break for the incumbent.

Will Joe Rogan announce his vote in some informal conversation? Will the Weinsteins acquiesce after Unity 2020 ultimately fails? Or will they be like many other Americans who choose not hurt their old friends’ feelings in public, but quietly pull the lever for Trump in private?

Does IDW mean SJWs are SOL?

The woke movement hits you hard with its theology. And after simmering in social science departments for years, those doctrines have reached a threshold: apostates can be identified …… and they’re increasingly being cancelled.

Now, with the public conversion of Democratic Party and social media elites to the social justice agenda, the movement’s authoritarian tendencies are being leveraged and scaled. So …… what happens next?

Isaac Newton taught us that for every action there’s an opposite reaction …… a law that seems to apply to politics as much as physics. Therefore, the credentialed class breathlessly awaits a draconian response from “the right.” As their thinking goes, “the left” has made their bold, riotous move in 2020, so the other shoe is bound to drop. Right?

In one sense, they’re correct: an equal and opposite reaction is occurring. But in another sense, they’ve missed the bigger picture. A push-back has already arrived. And it’s coming from …… the left.

The citizenempowering left is now constructing sound arguments against centralist left overreach. This new group’s members have been privately intense and passionate about woke’s excesses . Ironically, however, their public statements were initially muted. They know they’re in an existential fight for beliefs they hold dear. But their voices don’t yet reflect the full-throated confidence of a stand-alone movement. That will come soon enough, though.

This new group is best represented by members of the intellectual dark web, a phrase coined half-facetiously by one of its founders: Eric Weinstein. The IDW does contain a few right-leaning figures, but most members self-label as liberal, including Weinstein, his brother Bret (of Evergreen State College fame), Joe Rogan, Sam Harris, and others.

The IDW was joined in quick order by signatories to the Harper’s Magazine letter on open debate. It was a direct response to the social justice movement’s increasing embrace of cancel culture. Long time free speech liberals like Jonathan Haidt, Nicholas Christakis, and John McWhorter were joined by new converts to citizism like Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

The shift is even impacting journalism. Glenn Greenwald has advocated citizen empowerment for awhile. Matt Taibbi is now asserting his voice. And Bari Weiss defined her sharp break with the SJWs in a resignation letter to the New York Times.

The IDW and its allies are not the early adopters, however. James Howard Kunstler, Chris Martenson, and Charles Hugh Smith, among others, have eloquently outlined the principles of these positions since the early 2000s, and earlier. Later-arriving figures will continue to settle the territory they’ve pioneered.

This new force won’t remain beneath the radar for long. Legacy media will soon proclaim “a civil war within liberal ideology.” These headlines will be titillating, but the credentialed class will continue to overlook basic structural divisions in the partisan spectrum. A fundamental axis has always bisected the left side of the circle, just as it has on the right ……

The cries now emerging from the lower left quadrant hearken back to Paul Revere. They proclaim, “The authoritarians are coming!” But this is not a case of diametric opposition. These citizen-empowering figures still declare their allegiance to maternally-weighted liberal values. Their beef with the social justice movement is not with woke values. Instead, the growing woke preference for top-down institutional leverage is being stridently opposed.

When I first began to speak publicly about the political circle, a common response was, “But there’s no one in the lower quadrants.” Sometimes it was clarified with examples: “Ron Paul is in the lower right, and Ralph Nader is in the lower left, but they’re getting up there in age. Who will take their place?”

They were reasonable questions. The lower left quadrant was demographically denuded by the late nineteenth century’s progressive movement. For most of the twentieth century, it was a barren land. Most liberals believed, as a matter of faith, that the best shot at a better society lay with large regulating institutions.

That has shifted imperceptibly and gradually, however. Bret Weinstein said it concisely: “I used to believe in top down solutions. But I no longer think that works.” That shift preceded today’s rift between the social justice movement and its new adversaries. In the short term, the lower left will stand staunchly against the excesses of centralist liberalism. Its voices will gain confidence. The battle will be joined.

In the longer term, however, adjacent quadrants must form alliances. And the left side quadrants have too much in common to remain in perpetual existential conflict. Like the right, they must eventually strike some balance between centralized and citizen-based power. If they fail to do so, events will overtake ideology.

It will likely take the better part of our decade to resolve these issues. All four quadrants will take the field. Social questions will intersect with new economic constraints. And the America of 2030 will look vastly different from the America of 2020 …… if it survives intact.

So the answer to the title of this post is “no.” The SJWs are not SOL. But they are due for a comeuppance. There’s a new political force in America. It’s a citizen-empowering liberalism that believes in the power of emergent, self-organizing systems. That new force here to stay.