The 2018 Midterm elections

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I have recently spent some time outlining the problems with our political predicament in Integral theory part one, an introduction to the evolution of human consciousness and Integral theory part two, the diagnosis of our political world.  Both of these posts were focused on problems, and conflicts, and friction.

In this post, I’m going to lay out my prediction of 2019 based on what I’m seeing happen after the election.  I think we’re headed in a great direction, and the outcome of the 2018 US midterm elections is a reason to celebrate, no matter what team you support.

The nature of “left” and “right”

History is simply a struggle between those who want to move humanity forward in evolution (“progressives”, “the left”, “liberals”, etc) and those who want to slow or stop evolution (“conservatives”, “the right”, etc).

Both of these groups are absolutely necessary to the proper functioning of society.  If society was made up of nothing but conservatives, we would still be stuck in a rigid, closed-minded, oppressive world.  If society was made up of nothing but progressives, we would have fallen apart into chaos and anarchy.  History is simply the struggle between conservatives and progressives to move humanity forward in evolution as fast as it can handle, but no faster.  The difference between the two sides is the amount of tension in society, and that tension often causes conflict.

What does the conflict look like?  It looks like a progression of both peaceful and violent (mostly violent) periods of great change scattered within periods of relative stability.  For example, the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia was a response to the overly conservative society of the Tsar not being able to adapt to a quickly changing world.  The American and French revolutions were responses to the overly conservative society of imperial England and the French crown.  So the impetus of conflict is often “too much conservatism”.

But we also find that too much progressivism also leads to a bad place.  The Bolsheviks, not completely satisfied with the gains of the revolution, pushed forward even harder, resulting in the rise of Communism, the resulting tyranny, and the deaths of hundreds of millions of people.  The French revolution, not completely satisfied by the overthrow of the monarchy, pushed forward even harder, and that devolved into mass slaughter and tyranny.  The American Revolution, in contrast, managed to consolidate the progressive gains after the victory against monarchy and avoid a great deal of further bloodshed.

Releasing tension slowly, the key to peaceful progress

In Integral theory part two, the diagnosis of our political world, I talked about the fact that in the US, we have three worldviews in mostly nonviolent conflict right now:  premodernism, modernism, and postmodernism.  The resulting tension has been palpable, but it has also been intensified by three factors:

  1. Trump’s victory in 2016 and the corresponding Republican takeover of Congress was completely unexpected by almost everyone.  Tension is always greater when combined with confusion.
  2. The complete lack of any base of power at the federal level resulted in the progressive half of the electorate feeling vulerable, and afraid.
  3. Having no power absolves one of any need for responsibility.  And so the left lurched (rhetorically) further left, causing an equal and opposite reaction in the right.

Things looked like they were falling apart because we had surprise, confusion, fear, vulnerability, and lashing out on both sides.  And until the elections of 2018, the system had no way to moderate this tension.

And we just saw that moderation happen last night.

Everybody got something

Lets get down to details.

  • It was a huge night for women and minorities.  That’s great and should be celebrated by everyone.
  • As of November 7 at 4pm eastern, there is exactly zero election violence.
  • The Democrats won the House with a small margin. The nature of the way the house works means that the Democrats now have carte blanche to run things the way they want and to pass what they want.
  • The Republicans picked up a few seats in the Senate to keep their majority.  As a result, Trump will be able to run his administration as he chooses and have his nominees confirmed.

Fearful Democrats now have a seat at the table and a firm reason to believe that even if Trump was a tyrant, he can no longer get anything passed without their assent.  They also now have the responsibility to do something besides fight against what the Republicans are doing.   They will have to pass actual bills that lay out the policy platform for their 2020 presidential run.  So, on the Democratic side, lots of frustration just got released.

On the Republican side, they keep the Senate, which allows Trump to operate his administration effectively.   Our country wins because Trump will get to lay out his case for the 2020 election without the Senate shutting down his appointments and judicial nominees.  Republicans, holding half of the legislative branch have no reason to be fearful.  They have a voice.

And an environment where everyone has a voice and tensions are reduced is an environment ideally suited for restarting the forward movement of evolution in measured steps.  Trump is a dealmaker, and everyone finally feels safe enough to be in a position to make a deal.

Here’s what we should look for in 2019.

  • Marijuana is legalized at the federal level, leaving it up to the states to decide for themselves
  • A prison reform bill will pass
  • An immigration bill will pass, and it will either be comprehensive or a small incremental compromise
  • A health care bill will pass that will provide modest improvements to Obamacare.

And everyone will have the opportunity to make a full and complete case for the 2020 elections, which is the best possible outcome for everyone.

Find out more about integral theory here:  https://jeremytunnell.com/2018/09/23/resources-for-learning-about-integral-theory-spiral-dynamics/ 

If you would like to be notified of new blog posts in the future, you can sign up for my mailing list here:  https://mailchi.mp/7a1f410599f7/mailing-list

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Jeremy Tunnell

2 comments

  • I admire your work, but I disagree with much of this post. It is quite the generalization to say that history is simply the struggle between progressives and conservatives; your own examples do not support this. Furthermore, the general thesis that too much progressivism too fast is bad depends greatly on your vantage point. This is especially true in regards to Trump’s judicial appointments. Minorities had to wait until 1967 for interracial marriage bans to be struck down (Loving v. Virginia), 2003 for sodomy prohibitions to be wiped out (Lawrence v Texas), and 2015 for gay marriage to be legalized (Obergefell v. Hodges). Although Loving was unanimous, the other two cases were 5-4 decisions, of which the justices that Trump would appoint would most likely be on the side that told minorities to keep waiting. If more “conservative” justices had been appointed in the preceding years, they may still be waiting. If more “progressive” justices had been earlier, they would have not waited so long. Just like Candide, there is no reason to believe that what occurred is the best of all possible worlds. The fact that part of society was not ready for such progress is not an argument against progress.

    There is also no support for the assertion that Trump is a “dealmaker.” In fact, his first two years suggest he is anything but. Please highlight any such “deals” he has made so far. As for predictions, I sincerely doubt any meaningful health care or immigration reform will occur before 2020. Trump has tied himself to his caravan of followers. There is no incentive for Trump nor the progressives to reach any “deal” that would satisfy both such bases on these issues.

    Enjoy the blog. Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Two things:

      I don’t argue that history is the optimal balance between conservatism and progressivism, only that conflict results when we go too far in one direction. It could be that gay marriage five years earlier could’ve been totally doable, and it could have been that it might’ve created a Civil War. We’ll never know.

      Likewise one could argue *the* Civil War was avoidable, if they could have just cut a deal for a little bit longer. One can have an opinion about whether freeing the slaves a couple of decades early was worth all of the lives and destruction that happened. It probably was, but maybe it would’ve happened peacefully in another decade or so. It worked that way in other places.

      My assertion that Trump is a dealmaker is not so much that he has “deals” to show for it, it’s that he’s willing to make a deal, because he’s not ideological, in a way that Bush or Obama or Clinton would not have been able to. It’s my opinion that Trump will take whatever deal he can get, regardless of the ideology involved.

By Jeremy Tunnell

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I am a startup founder, investor, mentor, and zouk dancer.
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