I’d like to buy a consonant, please.

Linguistic gymnastics run rampant among the elites. The statements coming from Washington are increasingly nebulous. Are beltway players trying to clarify their positions …… or to obfuscate them?

The latest example comes in the form of a headline: “Dozens of Former Anti-Trump GOP Officials Discussing Formation of “Center-Right Breakaway Party'” Let’s dig into the Sajak-esque constructions of language contained in statements like this one ……

The story states that about 120 anti-Trump government officials – all Republicans – have participated in a zoom call to discuss forming a new faction of the GOP (or perhaps a new party altogether) to run on a platform of “principled conservatism.”

The leaks and tweets from the call contain a wide selection of linguistic gummy bears ……

…… this is a “new, independent” faction of the GOP.

…… they’re standing up to parts of their party “threatening American democracy.”

…… committed to “truth, reason, and the founding ideals.”

…… committed to “our values.”

…… “adheres to the constitution.”

Such vague statements can be momentarily assuaging, but they contain few conceptual nutrients. They’re harmful when they form too large a part of our daily diet. These benign-sounding concepts seem like ideals we should believe in, but clear definitions are rarely produced.

For example …… which parts of the constitution are they talking about? Do they support constructs like corporate personhood, which was never addressed in the founding document? Were their conservative “values” ever noted in it? What are their views on today’s bloated interpretations of the Commerce Clause?

And what about concepts like “truth” and “reason”? Are they asserting that their “nativist” co-Republicans lack the capacity for those qualities? Have they defined what makes a nativist morally or intellectually unpalatable?

These ideas are rarely clarified by the purveyors of political speech.

More information can often be derived from looking at an initiative’s point person than can be gleaned from its well-rehearsed script. That figure usually leads with their credentials, which can be sold more effectively than the vague message. Typically, a ringleaders’ curriculum vitae is a crucial first argument for a cause’s legitimacy.

In this case, the lead salesperson is “former CIA officer Evan McMullin”. His papers are presented in three words: Central. Intelligence. Agency. He’s joined by others with similar resumes, including several “former high-ranking members of the Homeland Security Department”.

Despite describing their platform in ambiguous language, this group’s credentials define them precisely. They’re not centrists. They seek control of centralized power.

Centrist versus Central. Distinguishing an -ist from an -al can be enlightening ……

Is anything inherently wrong with a centralist position that leans conservative …… as opposed to today’s Washington, where mainstream centralism now leans liberal? No. The problem lies not with a position itself, but with any lack of balance between opposed regions of the circle. Too much decentralization and too much centralization are equivalent threats.

To sort through such issues – and to re-build balance in our society – the American people must understand the true positions of those who seek to lead. Unfortunately, Mr. McMullen and friends have failed to describe theirs with clarity.

Defining the Undefended

Two of the most maligned movements of recent years are homeschooling and vaccination choice. Their advocates are frequently disparaged by mainstream media. So, why do these groups get singled out?

Both movements share common characteristics with other groups that favor decentralized power. In fact, related grassroots initiatives like permaculture, self-sufficiency, new urbanism, and others, are best understood as parallel components within a larger “meta-movement.”

This leads to a revised question: why are members of the other initiatives left largely alone while the homeschooling and vaccination freedom proponents are often attacked?

An answer is provided by their adversaries. Homeschooling presents a threat to teachers unions and their allies in the Department of Education. Similarly, vaccination skeptics question products produced by pharmaceutical companies: behemoths with deep influence in the halls of power. This manifests as diametric opposition on the political circle ……

Though their situation is unpleasant, anti-vaxxers and homeschoolers might be fortunate. The big kid on the block doesn’t like them, but at least he considers them a threat. In contrast, many of the parallel movements remain largely unacknowledged by powerful forces. It might feel like a blessing to the groups being left alone. But is it really?

Mohandas Gandhi – another occupant of the circle’s lowest pole – once observed: “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” His quote describes a set of state changes that move a given situation, in increments, from one paradigm to another. Political energy ratchets up in each shift, until the conflict comes to a boil.

Nassim Taleb (yet another low pole member) attempts to harness this spectrum whenever he publishes a new book …… by actively antagonizing his critics. Agitated detractors then become effective marketing agents.

Charles Marohn, founder and CEO of Strong Towns, recently experienced a shift along this continuum. His organization – aligned with the new urbanist movement – has produced insightful analysis for more than a decade, much of it debunking orthodox economic doctrines like infrastructure spending and suburban sprawl.

Marohn flew under the radar for years, but was eventually noticed by powerful natural adversaries high up on the circle. They’ve now lodged formal complaints against his engineering license, not because of any lapse in professional judgement (Marohn no longer practices in the field), but because he endorses innovative approaches that could eventually threaten their entrenched financial interests.

Anti-vaxxers, homeschoolers, and Strong Towns members are further along on Gandhi’s energy continuum than their peers in the larger meta-movement. This causes an inversion of the question posed earlier. Instead of asking “why have particular citizen-empowering groups been singled out?” it would be more productive to ask what the related movements must do to get noticed.

To achieve success, the proponents of decentralized power will need to move past the “ignore you” stage of their development. “You win” might be defined as a new balance of power with centralizing forces, or as some other set of goals. Either way, change won’t arrive until conflict is confronted …… and political energy increases.

Guess-working the Gamestop Gambit

The significance of recent trading in highly-shorted GME stock was immediately grasped by several of America’s remaining honest journalists, including Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi.

Unfortunately, Greenwald’s reference to “the amorphous and trans-ideological politics driving both the Reddit uprising and the reaction to it” falls far short of a coherent systemic understanding. His comments show how Americans – even the most astute among us – are failing to interpret the political landscape with anything approaching accuracy.

To resolve this dangerous limitation, commentators will need to embrace a premise they might find unpalatable …… that an adequate understanding of the political paradigm can never be developed through words alone. Instead, the first step in any serious political analysis is the visualization of a properly constructed spatial model.

The term trans-ideological lies at the crux of Greenwald’s blind spot. It reflects our human penchant for adding length to a description when we don’t quite understand its pattern. Sporting seven syllables, this word’s definition is particularly fuzzy. We can only assume that Greenwald asserts a Nietzschian framing: “beyond left and right”.

It’s not wholly incorrect to use a term like “trans-ideological.” But to pair it with the term “amorphous” is to confess no knowledge of an alternative. A better model does exist, though.

For example, neither party in the Gamestop dispute is energized by issues regarding values …… the traditional battlefield between left and right. They reside instead, as Greenwald correctly notes, in the field of rational endeavor. This orientation toward the practical concerns of business and finance causes conflicts about power ….. not about values.

The two main combatants in the Gamestop conflict do take diametrically opposed positions. The financial oligarchy sits at the top of the political circle, while the Redditors reside near the circle’s bottom pole. This reflects an ordering of positions more consistent with the majority of recent American conflicts ……

The hedge funds might, or might not, function as the apex predators of today’s financial hierarchy. But they do rely on an understanding of (and exert influence on) today’s highly centralized system of banking, trading, and regulation. In contrast, the Reddit group relies on emergent self-organization, with citizens free to act as individual agents.

This gets to the crux of a misunderstanding that vexes even the most insightful observers in America today. Yes, it’s true that wallstreetbets members might lean slightly to the left or the right. But their primary loyalty isn’t horizontal; it’s vertical. They proudly practice a citizen-empowering politics.

The unacknowledged tendency to frame disputes as left versus right remains entrenched in mainstream thinking, even as some pundits attempt to form language describing another dimension. Values explanations might have been adequate in the past. But they’re counterproductive today, when the machinations of top down power dominate.

To assess the twenty-first century’s political crisis in terms of left and right – without clarifying their relationship to top versus bottom – is a conflation of the highest order. It’s a mistake from which recovery will be difficult, if not impossible. An alternative framing must be considered.

Not So Fast ……

It appears that the rightful ruling class, led by Joe Biden, has retaken control of the beltway. We’re free to exhale. And exhale again. But before anyone hyperventilates, we should explore how today’s turmoil is actually structured ……

The sighs of relief represent a thought: “the left is back in charge.” When you look closely, however, the nature of this new regime has been poorly defined by our media because the most astute criticisms of “the left” are currently coming from …… “the left.” Glenn Greenwald isn’t exhaling. Neither is Matt Taibbi. Bret Weinstein still holds his breath, hoping YouTube doesn’t banish him.

If an accurate political spectrum could be reduced to simple phrases, one statement would be: “There are two ‘lefts’ in America.” And this “other left” understands all too well that they’re being targeted by resurgent power brokers from Silicon Valley, DC, and Davos. Their worldview has too much in common with the conservatives now under attack.

Imagine, for a moment, being herded from a train at Auschwitz. You find yourself in a second group in line for the “showers.” Would it provide any comfort to you if some business adversary from your previous life was in the first group? This is the kind of question these liberals are forced to ask themselves about recently de-platformed conservatives. Who, exactly, is my adversary?

A precise model of allies and adversaries is needed. But even a loose model would expose the fallacy of labeling today’s Washington power regime as “left” …… because the incoming administration is closely allied with authoritarian groups.

For example, the deep state’s alphabet agencies, featuring actors like James Comey and John Brennan, cant be categorized as liberal or conservative. They’re creatures of centralized power. Similarly, Biden’s ascendance was aided by Republican stalwarts like Mitt Romney, Liz Cheney, and Fox News hosts. This wing of their party also asserts top-down control.

So, the image of “the left” being back in charge is deeply flawed. It’s based on a limited visual conception of the system. The only debate it allows is, “How far right – or left – are the players?”

The new regime doesn’t represent a victory of “left” over “right.” Instead, it exhibits a resurgent “top” against a newly-wounded “bottom.” The top of the circle does include slight orientations toward the left and right. But so does the bottom.

The discontented – labeled above – consist of libertarian conservatives and citizen-empowering liberals. They’ve been unable to join together into a political coalition thus far.

The top-of-circle actors do see the powerful potential of such an alliance, however. And they’re making every effort to shut down discourse within the lower quadrants. In its place, they promote a carefully constructed narrative: legitimate players have retaken their rightful roles.

But the elites have resorted to authoritarian tactics in their effort to regain power. They rely on disciplined coordination between left and right-leaning “centralists” who sit high in the circle’s upper quadrants. And they can only thwart their conservative adversaries by inflicting collateral damage on citizen-empowering liberals.

Election 2020 was Axis versus Axis

Our November 3 trip to the polls seems like a long time ago due to the intensity and unprecedented nature of the subsequent disagreements. But the underlying structure of that contest should not go unnoticed because it differed, in significant ways, from previous longterm trends. It tells us much about the shifting outlooks of the major political parties.

For example, Joe Biden’s “battle for the soul of this country” was a values-based statement, which the DNC leveraged to level charges of racism, xenophobia, and misogyny against its opponents …… while presenting itself as a bulwark against those bogeymen. The party’s goal was to keep public discussion aligned with matters of conscience. Its policy assertions were built on a foundation of morality.

In contrast, the Republican campaign slogan – “Keep America Great” – rehashed Trump’s combative 2016 focus on jobs, tariffs, and immigration. It’s policy platform sought to restrict political discussion to the power question. This tentatively populist approach reflected a shift from the party’s pre-Trump era, when centralizing tendencies were pursued behind closed doors, but downplayed publicly …… a position the Romney wing still endorses.

Thus, both of the 2020 campaigns emphasized the language of one Fundamental Question, while downplaying language from the other. This resulted in each party playing offense on its favored axis; then reacting to the opponent’s accusations on the other.

The non-emphasized axis still surreptitiously contributes to both parties’ agendas, though. The Democrats ask us to look the other way as they rely on power tactics like tech monopoly cancellation, media gaslighting, and deep state ambushes. Meanwhile, the Republicans quietly place pro-life judges on the bench, and pursue get-out-the-vote operations in the evangelical community. But this values orientation is kept under the radar.

When we step back toward a wider perspective, it becomes clear that neither party wants to align itself with an accurate, balanced paradigm. Instead, both seek the short-term advantages created by nasty name-calling and myopic talking points. Neither will address the realities of a complex worldview because an honest approach could compromise the instant gratification of an electoral victory.

How much longer can the republic withstand these short-sighted, winner-take-all tactics?

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 ……

THE NEVER-TRUMPERS

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.

THE ELECTION OBJECTORS

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.

THE LOWER RIGHT QUADRANT

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 LOWER LEFT QUADRANT

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.