This is my personal blog. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the congregations or presbytery I serve.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How Spiral Dynamics Unpacks This Election

Spiral Dynamics is a theory that humans and societies grow by stages, each stage more inclusive than the last.  The stages are identified by more or less arbitrarily assigned colors.  Most of the people in America today relate to one of three main stages: blue, which values law, loyalty, conformity, and national identity; orange, which values reason, technical proficiency, and objectivity; and green, which values community, liberty, equality, and solidarity.  

Each stage sees itself as the pinnacle of human development.  People in these stages tend to view people in more inclusive stages as weak, compromised, and idealistic.  They also look at those in less inclusive stages as superstitious savages.  (There are at least two more inclusive stages than these three -- yellow and turquoise -- but few people see from these perspectives right now so they are not politically relevant.  Yet.)    

In our political life we have two main parties.  The Republicans tend to be blue to orange.  In fact this distinction is the major fault line in the party.  The blue people, many of whom have been mobilized by Trump, are about nationalism, tradition, adhering to the rules, and holding to the way things used to be.  The orange people are the free traders, the technocrats, the establishment.  What we are seeing in this election is a veritable war between the blue Republicans and the orange Republicans.

The Democrats tend to be orange to green.  The orange Democrats are the establishment figures like the Clintons.  The green Democrats are about social, economic, and eco justice, and they gather around Bernie Sanders.    

America is basically an orange country, founded on modernist, scientific principles.  I offer a guess that 65 percent of Americans are at the orange stage.  A united orange party would be hard to beat.  Up until now, the vast orange center has been split between the two parties.  They may differ on details, but orange Democrats and orange Republicans share the same basic, pragmatic worldview.  The Republicans have managed to drag along the blue people by feeding them rhetoric about patriotism, guns, and wedge social issues like abortion and Gay rights.  But the orange leadership doesn't really care about these things.  They're all about globalization and making money.   This year we are seeing the revolt of the blues against this hypocrisy.  That's why Trump's people have at least as much ire towards other Republicans as they have towards Democrats.  

I have heard a quip that Republicans fear their (blue) base while Democrats hate theirs (which is green).  Orange Republicans fear their base because they might do what this year they are doing: rebelling.  Blue Republicans see orange Republicans as traitors.  Orange Democrats hate green Democrats because they see them as irrational, sentimental, idealist, idiots who threaten to undermine the rational, pragmatic, incremental progress being made by the leadership.  To orange Democrats, green Democrats are vague and unrealistic.  Cheating to beat them is easy and necessary.

I believe Hillary Clinton will win because she appeals to more of orange than Trump does.  Trump has all but kicked orange out of the party, which is suicide.  

The question then becomes What happens next?  

One possibility is a major realignment, which I predict will fall along the lines of these colors.  Trump's people will form basically blue party of American Values, or something, and advocate for law and order, traditional morality, strong defense, and an affirmation of Anglo privilege.  There are signs that Clinton is reaching out to disgruntled orange Republicans, many of who are tired of appeasing the retrograde blue barbarians of Trump and the Tea Party.  She could work with them to form a National Unity party of orange, all about free trade, Wall Street, growth, and pragmatism.  If she does, the green Democrats will likely feel betrayed and abandoned (they already do), and possibly bolt to form their own Peace and Justice party.  Could we move into 2020 with a three party system? 

If we did, the centrist orange party would dominate.  But only for a while.  (Until the emergence of yellow.  But that's a whole new conversation because yellow is the first integral stage that doesn't reject former stages but sees their value, and doesn't fear new more inclusive stages, but anticipates and nurtures them.)

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