I'm going to go straight for the jugular today.
Let's talk about how the Green/Progressive movement and the Libertarian/Tea Party are born from the same pool of American cultural ferment.
Still with me? You may need to read that one again to make sure you caught what I wrote.
Yes, I did write what I meant. And I do so because the time has come to explain why these movements are far less divergent than contemporary political consensus believes - and how the convergence of these two forces will have significant implications for the political and cultural fabric of the country.
Before you dismiss me out of hand, take a moment to consider these two movements AS THEY ARE. The Libertarian movement, which is seeing a recapitulation within the broader Tea Party movement, and the Green movement, which is being increasingly incorporated into the more mainstream Progressive movement, are born out of a disillusionment with certain fundamental assumptions and points of consensus by the national culture about the whole sphere of shared life - economic, political, cultural. While both of the modern movements can trace their current incarnations to the tumult of the culture wars of the 60's and 70's - they represent a bifurcation in focus on the most pressing issues of concern (the Greens the environment on a global level, and the Libertarians the Constitution and the Federal system), as well as a significant contrast in the ideological lenses each uses to judge the world.
But there is much more there that is shared than is not - and it is a quirk of the lingering hatreds of the post-Vietnam era that have prevented these shared visions from becoming clearer. Both advocate for localized, democratic, transparent, lawfully-ordered society. Both embrace the ideals of personal responsibility and economic self-sufficiency. Both reject American militarism and empire-building. And they both are skeptical of modern American society, which they tend to view as dominated by corrupt, counter-productive government agencies in league with over-privileged corporate interests that preclude the effective exercise of the democratic process.
But these correlations have not been sufficient to overcome the points of dissonance between these two movements. The Libertarian/Tea Party generally rejects concerns about climate change and other global problems as part of a "globalist conspiracy", and highly undervalues the environmental crises that are pivotal to the concerns of Greens/Progressives. While the Greens tend to fear Libertarians as reactionary anarchists who reject collective action and seek to undermine the cause of social justice. Worse, there is a fundamental disconnect between the social values of Progressives and Tea Partiers that tends to rapidly hijack any sensible dialogue between the two groups. While social issues (gays, drugs, abortion, etc.) tend to be less of an issue between "true" Greens and "true" Libertarians, they represent minorities in the mainstream movements that have built up around them.
Should Libertarians change their perspectives on the dangers of ecological collapse, and Greens moderate their advocacy for centralized decision-making - we could very well see a significant convergence that would significantly challenge the status quo, both politically AND socially. And what may ironically spur the potential for such a turn of events is President Obama.
Having generated a significant surge in poltical participation by Progressives during his presidential campaign, his ascencion to the Oval Office essentially gave birth to the Tea Party movement. His Presidency has, by and large, managed to please no one but the mainstream political consensus seen as the crux of the problem by both movements. While he certainly has slowed or deferred the reckoning of the American Empire (due to its overreach and near-bankruptcy), there is no hard evidence of any significant structural reforms that change the status quo.
Obama is representative of what the American mainstream considers the best about itself: a meritocratic, color-blind, ethical, thoughtful, world traveling, patriotic almnus of Harvard Law. If the best of the best of the status quo is incapable of leveraging the reforms needed to pull the country out of its slow death spiral - who else can do the job?