5.10. Stop Getting in Each Other’s Way

Every time we reduce the number of people who are on our side…we reduce our chances of actually getting something done.

So many people are concerned about how things are going in the world.

Here, in the United States, the last time even forty percent of people were satisfied with how things were going was twelve years ago, all the way back in 2005.

We have plenty of dissatisfaction, and plenty of desire to make things better.

So what’s holding us back?

Obviously, the biggest constraint is this bitter, divisive, fifty-fifty split in our politics, that causes us to largely cancel each other out—since whatever is done by one party is fought tooth and nail by the other party, regardless of whether it’s actually good or bad.

There are about 320 million people in the United States.

That means, to accomplish something, we can’t simply be content with hundreds or thousands of people on our side.

We need hundreds of millions.

Republicans and Democrats have succeeded in getting the votes of hundreds of millions of people. But because they define themselves in opposition to each other, their efforts largely cancel out.

What we’d want, ideally, is a big majority of 200 million or more—but that’s never going to happen, in this oppositional two-party system.

So it needs to happen outside this system.

But that’s extraordinarily hard to do, given how successfully the two parties dominate our public debates, frame everything as a binary choice between the two of them, and spend billions of dollars to make it all seem as natural as the sun coming up.

And of course, we aren’t just divided between the two parties. We’re divided within the parties, because controlling the agenda of one of these two parties appears to be the only way to actually get something done.

We bicker over minor details. We insist on unattainable standards of perfection, instead of simply being content with smaller steps forward. We try to reinvent the wheel, and start new movements on our own, instead of joining up with already existing movements.

It’s not that hashing out details, demanding high standards, or starting from scratch are inherently bad things.

But they can also be inefficient, counterproductive, and wasteful…especially in our current situation.

We need more people coming together…not less.

Every time we reduce the number of people who are on our side…we reduce our chances of actually getting something done.

Even if we amass a majority of 160 million or more…it won’t do much good if the other 160 million hates our guts, and will work just as hard to undo everything we’ve worked so hard to do.

It’s not that we don’t have real disagreements, or that they aren’t important.

It’s not about values, beliefs, or opinions.

It’s about math.

The math it takes to actually get something done in this country.

Asking yourself, “How can we get to 200 million enthusiastic supporters?” leads you down a very different road than what the two parties ask themselves—which is, “How do we get to 51 percent, so we can cram our agenda down the throats of the other 49 percent?”

We need to stop getting in each other’s way.

We need something bigger than these two parties.

And we need to be far more numerous, unified, and independent from this two-party system than we currently are.


This is the 86th in a series of over 150 videos about how to create real, lasting social change. Click here for a list of all titles, videos, and transcripts.

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