I spent my first morning back in town speaking to a wealthy, and by appearances, mostly retired businessman's group. (About a quarter of the usual attendees live in other states during the winter.)
The topic was "Building a Post-Ponzi Nation," and I was not kind to a nation that has expended much of its best thinkers on devising exotic financial products and tax-evasion strategies instead of solving the very real limits of finite resources on an planet with exploding population.
My host once chaired the state Republican party and now was regarded the token liberal of the group. The gentleman seated on the other side of me happens to volunteer in the same homeless shelter where I'm headed this morning.They must have picked my seat with some care.
I got more nods than I expected, but I never got into the details of the "raise taxes on the wealthy" part of my talk. We have to get beyond ideology on either side to solve these problems, I said.
One acquaintance came up to me afterward and said, "You've got to stop calling yourself a 'progressive.'"
"Because you said some things I actually agree with."
I'm not sure that indicates a groundswell. There were also some folded arms, and some surely embraced the Norquistian philosophy — lower taxes, deregulate, privatize and cut social spending — that I criticized. But here were about 30 men, some in their 80s, getting together weekly to challenge their thinking.
Next week, they've scheduled Secretary of State Mark Ritchey.