HomeArticleWhy “Incremental Change” Is Worse Than No Change At All

Why “Incremental Change” Is Worse Than No Change At All

Another reason why the so-called “centrists” pose such a grave threat to our world is because their platform of slow, moderate, incremental change is actually worse than no change at all.

President Obama was elected on the platform of hope and change. He promised big, sweeping changes, and, at the end of eight years, had continued and expanded all the most depraved foreign and domestic policies of his predecessor while killing the push for universal healthcare and creating a climate initiative which was the equivalent of a band-aid on a sucking chest wound. He now defends his near-complete lack of progress by claiming that compromising with the plutocrats and achieving a small amount of change is better than not compromising and achieving no change at all.

We see this trend continuing under the current Democratic leadership, with the House Speaker continually working to passive aggressively undermine the center-left progressive wing of her party while simultaneously calling for party unity. We see it also in the current administration, which, despite all the fuss about Trump’s destroying “norms” and challenging the establishment, has actually managed to preserve and bolster status quo power structures in every way that matters.

Whenever I write about the fact that Trump has not met any of his foreign policy promises and has in fact just been advancing the longstanding policies of the neoconservatives in his cabinet, I always get a bunch of MAGA people in the comments telling me I’ve got to be patient with their president, because big changes take time. For all the rhetoric about Trump’s base, from both pro-Trump and anti-Trump media, depicting it as some special deviation from the norm, this demand for patience and slow, incremental change is indistinguishable from the lines Hillary Clinton supporters were regurgitating at Bernie Sanders supporters back in 2016.

In both the Obama and the Trump administrations, voters ordered a box of hope and change, received a package labeled “slow, incremental change”, then opened it up and found no meaningful change whatsoever.

This pattern has been repeating for years. People want change because the system is unfairly stacked against ordinary people, so two mainstream political parties promise them big changes. People flock to whichever one makes the most convincing sales pitch, then when they don’t get big changes they’re fed some hogwash about needing to have realistic expectations. Because wanting fast changes in a world that is hurtling toward either ecosystemic collapse or nuclear war is “unrealistic”.

Voters are aggressively discouraged from voting for third parties, assured that there is no need to do this because the mainstream party will provide the changes you seek, and then no changes happen. Ever. This happens over and over and over again.

This pattern is not an accident.

I say that “incremental change” is worse than no change at all because it is deliberately designed to kill all push for change while effectively delivering no change whatsoever. If mainstream political parties were honest about having no real interest in taking power away from the plutocratic class which is exploiting us all and driving us toward extinction, people would immediately stop supporting them. Keeping change on the menu without ever actually serving it keeps people coming back to the table again and again, knowing that they’re starving to death but trusting that nourishment will eventually appear.

All the mainstream “centrists” ever bring to the table is inertia. Inertia is the only real item on the menu. All they’re ever doing is filling our vehicles with lead and telling us it’s gold. Gumming up our gears with false promises designed to keep people from waking up and overthrowing the oligarchs who are rapidly building a cage around them. While the people are being admonished to slow their push for change to the pace of a narcoleptic snail, the oligarchs are all mainlining methamphetamine so they can stay up all night reinforcing the bars of our cage at breakneck speed.

Meanwhile we’re drawing ever closer to an apocalyptic scenario with a rapidly deteriorating ecosystem and mounting tensions between nuclear-armed nations. At a time where we should all be speeding up, the elected leaders closest to power are all encouraging us to slow down. They’re sucking all the energy out of our engines and replacing it with debilitating inertia. They’re promising us the world and delivering us armageddon. We’ve got to stop buying their lies.

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Latest comments

  • Obama gave only lip service to incremental change. In reality, he accelerated & expanded the ecocidal Bush War on Terror. About 40% more aerial bombs, 5x more drones, Libya, Uganda, & the Surge In Afghanistan, to name but a few of his crimes. Incremental change was just a pretense for the rubes in America.

  • This is how we get rid of the old world and begin the new.

    https://youtu.be/aYgzmP4iNZQ

  • Yes. I’ve been arguing with people for years (though making little headway) that baby steps and incremental change across a wide range of political issues at this extremely late stage are actually worse than doing nothing. It’s like building half a bridge. Better to save that money for ferry tickets.

  • The proponents of incremental change always promise that this step is just the first step, its only a start to some better world that we will reach someday. Historically, this is a Big Lie. That “first step”almost always turns out to be the last step. And then the weakness of incremental change is revealed because the opponents of any change are left intact and likely barely weakened at all from the tiny incremental first step. Most likely those reactionary forces negotiated the size of that tiny first step, carefully calculating to limit their losses. Those reactionary forces are then going to go on the counter attack. And when that tiny first step was accepted as a small beginning to a better world, the forces of reaction will likely drive things much to the worse in the rage of their counterattack. In such a struggle, it can often be one step forward and then two steps back, so it is wise to at least gain a lot of ground when it is your time to step forward. And see if you can really kick them hard where it really hurts, and maybe get the space to take another step. And if you can follow that up with an uppercut at their chin as they bend over, then perhaps, just maybe, you can get them down and for once in human history actually get your foot on their neck like their’s has been on yours for millennia.
    Happy Bastille Day!

  • I am not hooked into any part of ” Zombieland ” except my desktop computer. I am a fossil. After reading this article by Chris Hedges I am happy to be vindicated.
    https://www.truthdig.com/articles/worshipping-the-electronic-image-2/

  • If you read what Sir Thomas More wrote 500 years ago in his masterpiece “Utopia”, the ruling elites are not interested at all by “change”, only by the statu quo:

    “Therefore I must say that, as I hope for mercy, I can have no other notion of all the other governments that I see or know, than that they are a conspiracy of the rich, who, on pretence of managing the public, only pursue their private ends, and devise all the ways and arts they can find out; first, that they may, without danger, preserve all that they have so ill-acquired, and then, that they may engage the poor to toil and labour for them at as low rates as possible, and oppress them as much as they please; and if they can but prevail to get these contrivances established by the show of public authority, which is considered as the representative of the whole people, then they are accounted laws; yet these wicked men, after they have, by a most insatiable covetousness, divided that among themselves with which all the rest might have been well supplied…”

    So all you hear and see in politics is just for show. It is in fact just that, a big show.

    But I must say that I have seen enough. I pray the Rosary for the quick return of Jesus, which return is very near according to many prophecies.

  • You don’t get it, Caitlin. People don’t want to interrupt their lives to start thinking about an alternative to the present arrangement. They are repelled by the mere thought of doing that. But doing that is an ABSOLUTE NECESSITY in order to know exactly what to do when the present arrangement is either overthrown by revolution or fails because of its fatal flaws.
    ..
    Speaking of fatal flaws, here’s a perfect example today.
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/mnuchin-says-treasury-could-run-out-of-cash-in-early-september-11562943666
    In order to keep all of its wars to maintain USD hegemony going, the US is going to have to continue to “finance” those wars with “borrowed” fiat, Fiat, FIAT “dollars”. The “treasury” is telling politicians that they’re going to, once again, raise the US’s self-imposed debt ceiling, or the US government, supposedly on behalf of The People, will, again, no longer be able to continue pay for all of its wars on the world.
    ..
    What will happen is that the debt ceiling will be raised. When that happens the US government will be able to tell the treasury to sell more treasury bonds to those investors who want to “invest in” the US government’s wars around the world. Who is buying those bonds? Fewer and fewer bonds are being sold to foreign investors, while more and more are being sold to domestic investors — pension funds, hedge funds, even the social security administration. Americans are investing in their government carrying on perpetual war. When you or your company or pension plan buy US treasury bonds, you are all funding forever war to MAINTAIN USD hegemony. And round and round the vicious circle we go — which will, as it has always done in the past, lead to an “accidental”, but very profitable, full-scale war — this time, nuclear.
    ..
    What’s truly ironic is that whoever reports on this critical issue of raising the debt ceiling also says that if the US were to fail to raise the debt ceiling, the US would “default” on its debt obligations. In other words, it would not be able to continue to pay the interest due on all the bonds it had sold previously. And that would lead to a world-wide financial/economic collapse. So in order to prevent “the world’s” fatally flawed “arrangement” from collapsing, that debt ceiling MUST BE RAISED! And Americans and the rest have to buy more and more US bonds, forever.

  • I have a suggestion about semantics. I realize that for most of the world people like AOC and the rest of the “ squad” along with Bernie Sanders are centrist liberals but within the US they are considered far left. Yes, this is silly, but it is true. People like Pelosi and the Clinton’s and most of the Democratic presidential candidates are the ones considered centrist liberal. They are slightly left of the center for American politicians.

    So my suggestion is that when using these phrases you spell this out— the American political spectrum is weighted to the right and your terminology is different from what we in America would typically see. I recently saw a NYT story which even called Pelosi’s background “ far left”, which is how the American Right sees things.

    • IIRC, Pelosi was a leftist representing San Francisco back when she began her congressional career, oh so many face lifts ago. There is a secret initiation ceremony when people who’ve gained office and a bit of notice by taking leftist positions abandon them. Its held in the bowels of the Capital Building, and it occurs when they are initiated into the sacred cult of the Democratic Leadership. Its rather typical for the old fossils that are the Democrat leadership in Congress to have once had a heart. They often took lefty positions when they were young. But their heart is stone cold dead by the time they make the leadership. If they reject the offer to sell their heart, they are not offered the position in the leadership. Then they become the lefty back-bencher that the billionaires and their media scorn and ignore and who will quickly be replaced by another person who is willing to sell their heart for a bit of power.

  • Trump has delivered everything and more to the Religious Right. Jerusalem, sidelining the Palestinians, anti-Roe Supreme Court justice, RR cabinet and attacks on virtually everything Dominionist / Reconstructionists believe should be the province of the church or family – welfare, education, parks, the EPA, genuine religious freedom (right to believe / practice as opposed to right to discriminate).

    Trump is more than their patron saint. He’s anointed by God!

    • And they are still a minority. Probably not even half of the Republican voters. So, yes, they strongly support Trump. But, opinion polls are rather constant that Trump’s overall support is at about 42%. Trump is going to lose in a historic landslide, even to a walking corpse like Biden.
      This evangelical bunch can make a lot of noise. I know, because I grew up with them. But, they are still a minority. On their own, they can not elect a President, they can’t even usually nominate a President. Even under Trump they can’t win Speaker of the House or Senate Republican leader. It took a weird year with a weak Bush in the Republican Party thinking it was his turn, and a hated Hillary in the Democrats convinced it was her turn and willing to rig the game her way. It took loads of foreign money and foreign interference, not from the distraction that is Russia, but from the Jewish and Saudi sources that can not be mentioned in America. It took that weird combination to give Trump his win, and of course he’s wasted the opportunity with his greed and belligerence. Trump will be rewarded with a place in the history books as the loser of the biggest landslide in American history.

  • Back in MLK rights days it was called gradualism, and he told people to demand change right now, not in some distant pie in the sky day. And many of us responded and caused change to happen on a fast track.

    • Nothing like an invitation to go read the good Doctor’s words. From his I Have a Dream speech………
      “In a sense, we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

      This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned.

      Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.

      But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

      We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.”

  • “Mommie, Can We Play Obombie Truth Origami” > there is NO greenhouse gas, the Alarmists/Lukewarmist debate is fake > environmental damage is from ChemTrails, glyphosate, GMO and Big Agra policies > “Fossil Fuel is Nuclear Waste” and therefore renewable, far friendlier than nuclear LWR, wind or solar

    • And pay no attention to those melting ice caps. Nothing to see there, move along, move along.

  • The Humanist Report
    Published on Jul 13, 2019
    Nancy Pelosi’s Dem Socialist Challenger Shahid Buttar: “We’re Gonna Win” | Full Interview
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTMsXbKvUfo&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR2-p0PWYRrEtGzoFD6wJHWuTlkwdjRe0byT9393J-cT3WQMccqoH–pb5Q

  • Prof. Ruth Ben-Ghiat, NYU @ruthbenghiat

    “Some time ago I warned that the Trump admin might move from targeting illegal immigrants to green card holders to naturalized American citizens to US born citizens with the ‘wrong’ immigrant parents. His tweet telling members of Congress to ‘go home’ suggests this progression.”

    10:59 AM – 14 Jul 2019

  • “In both the Obama and the Trump administrations, voters ordered a box of hope and change, received a package labeled “slow, incremental change”, then opened it up and found no meaningful change whatsoever.” , once again you nail it! I can’t even count how many times I’ve said this. Every time I say this, I am believed to be a Trump supporter. Obama was one of the most deceptive and destructive of all the presidents in my lifetime. It’s because of him with the slow smoldering burn that has already consumed everything that the flames erupting visibly with Trump seem like business as usual to me.

    I remember when Obama was elected and in my progressive California town people were literally jumping up and down and cheering in the streets that I knew we were doomed, because masses of the most clued in people we have were completely clueless about how things worked and what was going on.

  • Nancy Pelosi is not the “House Minority Leader” as stated in your piece. She is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the number three position in the government and second in line to the Presidency.

  • I agree. It is simply an excuse to pay lip service to the need for change by pretending to be doing something about it, but in reality doing very little, if anything. It is also designed to defuse the arguments of the proponents for big change by claiming that they really are doing something about it, but that the change can’t be rushed.

    Lies, smoke and mirrors, and the usual tactics by those that a) don’t want change at all, and b) those that want it to happen slowly so that they can have enough time to work out how to take advantage / profit it from it.

  • So many folks talked #Demexit after the 2016 debacle, and here they are once again, being sheepherded back into the stinking Democrat abyss where progressives go to die.

    Incumbents – the folks who have created the debacle we’re now faced with, generally win with 80-90% of the vote. For example, in the 2018 general election, Pelosi won 81% of the vote in “progressive” San Francisco, which comprises the entirety of her gerrymandered congressional district.

    Now Bernie’s a nice old white guy with great policies, but he’s not a fighter, and he’s indebted to the Democrat party which is why he refuses to take on his opponents (“Joe is a good friend of mine”), why he shut up about outrageous 2016 primary fraud committed against him, and why he endorsed and campaigned for that psychopathic warmonger Hillary Clinton, a horrific act for which there is simply no excuse.

    • I don’t think Bernie is perfect. But he is also the clearly the best chance the American left has had to elect a President since Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Fascinating to watch how there are many who are left of center are completely horrified by that notion.

  • Ms Johnstone, Ms Pelosi is the U.S. House Majority leader. The republicans have the ” Tea Party ” crowd pushing for fast changes and the democrats have their sect of folks pushing for change; but the ” system ” is not built to move that way ( and the deep state operatives forbid it ). You are 1000 percent correct; incremental change is way worse than no change at all. The United States voting public gets shafted year after year and the most they ever do is just complain about it. Empty supermarket shelves and $100.00 a gallon gas prices will be necessary to cause a ” regime change here “!

    • And all it would take to get those is a mistake made by some military person, on either side, as Iran and Amerika play games in the Persian Gulf. The system is fragile enough that a conflict there could indeed result in both empty grocery shelves and high gas prices.

  • Trump was sent to DC not to incrementally change the system but to expose it and blow it up. and he’s been doing a pretty good job.

    • What you consider to be blowing up the system is advancing the interests of the oligarchs at a blistering pace. It is the opposite of what Trump “promised” to do.

    • ” he’s been doing a pretty good job”, Hahaha, wake up. Ignorance and destruction bring ignorance and destruction. If you mean a good job is even a whole new level of environmental destruction, racial tension, nuclear war/cold war, even greater wealth disparity with less middle class and greater poor all similar to only worse than 70 years ago, then yeah great job.

      • I read in a report, possibly Telesur or maybe AP, that the Governor or Puerto Rico had a “troll squad” to try to manage online news and opinion. Which simply confirmed my point that any decent sized political operation has such a thing these days. After all, the Governor of Puerto Rico is not a powerful American political figure. If he’s got a troll squad, then you can count on every other Governor’s campaign in every state to have one. And likely many Mayors and mayoral contenders. Every state level major party in America has its troll squad. That’s over 50 Democrat troll squads and over 50 Republican. Plus, any corporation that wants to pay even a few million for anything from brand protection to shaping opinion in their direction also has a troll squad. Individual rich people likely have them. The Koch’s and Soros’ certainly have them, although likely not working directly for them. And in today’s American system, people are regularly trained in such duties in government jobs and then they leave and to the same in the private sector. Yet another government hand-out to the rich and corporations.

  • Amen **CJ** – you hit the nail on the head.
    Pelosi is like the mythological, powerful god
    who eats his or her own children (the AOC squad)
    to keep from being displaced.
    It’s a tragic drama unfolding before our eyes.
    If, as I suspect, we are past the point of no return,
    the only rational strategy left is adaptation
    – to the coming collapse of the eco-system & civilization.
    But ALWAYS, we must continue to speak truthfully
    and cherish those among us who are committed to truth & compassion.

  • Many people do not want change, period. If they had to get serious about climate change they would have to change from their gas guzzling truck to an electric car which they don’t want to do, even though it is cheaper. They don’t want to change from caring credit card debt at 20% because then they would have less stuff, which they don’t need. They don’t want to change from their house which is too big even when people were happier in the 50’s with homes half as big.
    In other words brainwashing is a powerful infliction that is difficult, impossible?, to change.

    • And yet, for year’s Toyota had trouble keeping Prius’ in the showrooms because of the demand. And at this point almost every car manufacturer is developing electric cars. I suppose because they always spend money developing products they forecast no one will buy.

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