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The Third Way Today

Former President Bill Clinton is currently much in the public eye.
During the 1990’s “The Third Way” was an idea that had standing in several different countries in the western world. Its principles have been described in a variety of ways, generally centering on certain themes:

  • a belief in the value of community
  • a commitment to equality of opportunity
  • an emphasis on responsibility
  • a belief in accountability

Or these:

  • empowerment
  • opportunity
  • responsibility

Today it seems that we are not very much organized into communities. We are polarized in ways not seen in very long time. A “communitarian” approach seems quaint and outdated to far too many of the people who currently hold power.

“Equality of opportunity” seems like a phrase from the distant past. The experiences of poor people during the hurricanes often revealed very unequal access to to opportunities for governmental assistance.

Is there an emphasis on responsibility? Now it is called “the blame game.” FEMA’s ex, Michael Brown still receives his salary.

And the lack of accountability in the current administration has been legendary. And Martha Stewart was held to a much higher standard of accountability than many other more well connected wrong-doing CEO’s.

“Empowerment” at its worst as practiced by this administration has played itself out in the neocon imperialism of the war in Iraq.

“Opportunity” for the Democratic party is seriously constrained now that Republicans control all three branches of government, and we let it happen.

“Responsibility” rests with us. We know these things. They scare and anger us. But we cannot give up. There is still our own Third Way:

  1. The blogging community is becoming more influential as time passes. Our words, our knowledge and truth, are becoming more and more useful as tools of change.
  2. There is real opportunity for grassroots activists, thinking citizens, skilled writers, dedicated journalists and just plain folks to organize themselves into small communities. These groups are speaking truth to power and sometimes things change for the better.
  3. The responsibility carries several obligations. The truth, as best determined, contains our necessary credibility. Listening with respect during our dialogues with whom we are in conflict, finding common ground, cools heat and lessens rigid polarization. Acting where we can is also an obligation. We all still have the power to speak out publically and privately; we can vote; we can communicate and be willing to learn new things.

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