I think that almost everyone agrees that we should all strive to base our public policies on reason and goodwill. People may disagree about what that means, and where it leads, but there aren’t too many people who are explicitly and consciously in favor of irrationality and ill-will. This fact provides the North Star of political activism, for we are at a huge advantage to live in a country and at a time when reason is not explicitly reviled (no matter how often it is implicitly reviled), and few argue that fighting for social injustices which serve their own interests is a defensible or admirable political ideology to adhere to (though many do indeed fight for social injustices which serve their own interests).

So, the question is: How do we organize to create a sustained, gradual shift in public opinion and public attitude, in favor of policies which are based on the application of reason to reliable data in service to universal goodwill? I will answer this question with a step-by-step sequence of premises and conclusions:

1) Most people perceive themselves to be, and want to be, reasonable people of goodwill.

2) To the extent that people are, and continue increasingly to become, reasonable people of goodwill, they are more likely to advocate for policies and procedures which advance the causes of reason and goodwill in our mode of self-governance.

3) A major political goal of those who want to see our mode of self governance more committed to reason and goodwill should be, therefore, the movement of people in the direction of being reasonable people of goodwill.

4) Since that is what most people want to be, and identify themselves as being, cognitive dissonance (the difference between who and what we are, on the one hand, and who and what we want to be, on the other) is a lever with which to pry one another in the direction of becoming more reasonable, and more motivated by goodwill.

5) If a non-partisan social-political movement could be established that is undeniably committed to reason and goodwill, that makes that its purpose and disciplines itself in service to that purpose, that would be an attractive force, and would exert pressure on that lever of cognitive dissonance, easing people in the direction of striving to be more reasonable, and striving to be more motivated by goodwill.

6) Designing a movement that does not set out to promote any substantive policies or any preconceived ideology, or to get candidates of any party or ideology or predisposition elected, but rather only to promote reason and goodwill in our political preferences and advocacy, creates both the credibility and integrity necessary to the success of such a movement.

7) Partisans who believe that this is not enough, that there are urgent needs to be met, threats and dangers and injustices and opportunities and promises and hopes and fears all to be reacted to and confronted, depending on one’s ideological disposition, need not be concerned about participating in such a movement, for it is not in place of anything, but rather only in addition to the rest of what we do to move the world (or keep it from being moved) in the direction that we believe it needs to be moved (or kept from being moved). We all agree, I hope, that whatever our political inclinations may be, we should each hold them on the conviction that they are informed by reason and goodwill. Responsibility demands of us that we put that conviction to the test: We should each desire, to the extent that our current respective political certaintes are either irrational or self-serving (as some almost inevitably are, to some degree, within each and every one of us), that we participate together in the effort to refine them accordingly.

8) The movement should define itself not around definite positions on substantive issues, but rather around a procedural commitment. That procedural commitment should be defined in response to the questions: i) “What set of procedures should responsible and engaged members of society, committed to trying to base all of their efforts on reason in service to goodwill, adhere to?” and ii) “What forms of community outreach and political advocacy can and should such people engage in, to best encourage others to make the same commitment and adhere to the same procedures?”

For a movement like this to be spectacularly successful, it does not require that many people be moved a large distance in a short time. A dramatic, positive, profound and sustainable shift can occur if a relatively small minority of people are moved over the course of years slightly in the direction of reason and goodwill. Such movement is not the mere swinging of the ideological pendulum, but rather the bending of the arc of the moral universe.

As perhaps a starting point for a larger discussion and a more organic and inclusive effort, I have written an elaborate and detailed answer to the questions in number 8, above: A Proposal: The Politics of Reason and Goodwill. I hope all who read this will consider helping to promote this movement, to weave together all of the disparate efforts to engage in some part of it or some parallel version of it. By whatever name it ends up going, at whoever’s impetus, this truly is the movement we should all belong to.