Transactional vs. Transformational Politics

Digby has a great article on the important difference between transactional and transformational politics over at Campaign for America’s Future’s “Blog for Our Future.” Here’s the money quote from the end of the article:

Cramped transactional politics should not be used as a definition of progressivism. While they are a necessary part of the system, they cannot fuel a transformation of our politics. Our job as activists is to pressure and prod our elected representatives to advance the progressive project and reward them when they do it. Winning office should be the beginning, not the end. Transformation is not just a goal, it’s a process.

So many times liberal and progressives, as well as anarchists, get caught up in the drive for immediate results. “We have to win this race – who’s the most electable person we have?” or “We’ve got to <insert outrageous anarchist act of resistance here> because if we don’t destroy the system now it will keep getting stronger! Fight the Power!”

Well, one reason for the success of the conservative movement over the last 30 years or so has been the willingness to forgo immediate gratification and electoral success in the interest of building a movement. It was the putting into motion of the old slogan “free your mind and your ass will follow.” Where the conservatives started to experience EPIC FAIL is when they started worrying about ways to win elections and use mechanical/procedural strategies and stopped worrying about building and nurturing a movement. Hence the fragmentation of the Republican party during this election cycle. Democrats who were willing to back the Clintons early were also vicitms of this same idea – they never quite understood the need to build a new national movement. This movement building instinct and effort has been what has made Obama’s campaign so successful, I think. This is why I often take issue with anarchists who want the big flashy spectacle now – propaganda of the deed as their only method – rather than focusing on the more difficult, but ultimately more effective, method of transvaluation. System change is slow at first but grows exponentially as it successfully progressive.

This is the difference between transactional and transformational politics.

Head over and read Digby’s article. It’s better than watching Wolf Blitzer on a Sunday afternoon!

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Filed under Activism, Elections 2008, Politics, Random Thoughts

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