Progressive economic policies that focus on people’s wellbeing can hit a brick wall (or at least a sturdy parapet) constructed by the current cultural common sense – the pervasive, default perspectives that shape our thinking in deep, often unconscious ways – about the economy.
The dominant model of the economy in this country (which successfully undergirds a whole host of conservative efforts) remains skewed toward prioritizing business’ interests over people’s wellbeing, easily reverts to a fatalistic “individual navigation of the economy” frame, and is steeped in pessimism about our ability to create a vigorous, equitable economy that serves us all.
Fortunately, there are powerful, alternative visions and models that can compete at this deep level to build and support the case for progressive economic policies.
We’ve conducted extensive multi-method research on the ways Americans think and communicate about the economy, across geographies and demographics. These efforts have enabled us to create strategies to advance models of the economy that both stay true to our values AND effectively compete with the current default models that hold us back.
A framework that flips people’s focus from what businesses need for the economy to do well, to a focus on people’s wellbeing (ALL people’s wellbeing) as what is necessary to drive our economy, can be a powerful tool to add to our moral and justice-oriented tools in the box. Along with messages that provide people with an authentic sense of power and agency and connect the dots for a clear role for collective action, including through government policy, this framework can help us make progressive people-first policies the priority.