Reflecting on the assault on the Capitol, lyrics of the Beatles song Revolution came back to memory. It seemed like an appropriate place to discuss where we find ourselves and the future we will shape or surrender.
“You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world”
We all want to change the world. We all want a better life for ourselves, our families, loved ones, and our nation. It is not difficult to understand when a large segment of society is passed over, ignored, devalued, and forgotten by those who control the levers of power, that sooner or later, like a pressure cooker with a faulty pressure gauge, there is going to be an explosion.
The rebellion from the right we are seeing is a consequence of decades of neglect by our political system and both major political parties. Donald Trump, the wannabe dictator, and god-emperor was able to tap into and take advantage of this energy. He may not be the all-knowing stable genius, but he understands the disrespect, pain, frustration, and anger of a large segment of our society that has been ignored and left behind by technology, globalization, and the hoarding of wealth by a few. Trump is cunning in his manipulation of their feelings. He has conned them to believe he cares about them and speaks for them as all blame is placed on favored scapegoats. He tunes in to their fears using race, ethnicity, immigration, climate change denial, and his political opponents as targets to both deflect and direct their anger.
We most certainly have an abundance of problems. There is no denying many are angry and frustrated. Trump’s success in mobilizing these groups has been greatly enhanced by the ignorance of many of his followers. We have lied to and dumbed down American society over the past several decades with deliberate intention. It began with the Powell Memo written by future Supreme Court justice Lewis Powell to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1971 that was a blueprint for corporate domination of American democracy.
“You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan”
The memo was a reaction to what many on the right and in corporate board rooms mistakenly believed was the threat posed by the demonstrations and acts of rebellion during the 1960s for civil rights and in opposition to the Vietnam War. In short, they panicked.
Their efforts to gain control and undermine everything in American society they identified as being a leftist threat was successful beyond their dreams as time progressed. The Reagan presidency, with the addition of neoliberalism and its adoption by the Democratic Party under the leadership of the so-called new Democrats, led by Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and ultimately Barak Obama, opened doors to opportunities only dreamed about.
The demise of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War was interpreted as a hint there was no longer any need to pursue changes to help the poor and the working poor. The impetus and necessity for reform were felt not only no longer necessary but not desirable. The emphasis was on getting all we could for ourselves. Others were on their own.
After more decades of neglect and seeing their jobs leave and being forced to take low-paying service jobs and struggling to make a living, the anger reached a boiling point. What we witnessed in the invasion of the Capitol Building was only a prelude.
“You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We’d all love to change your head”
It is easy to talk ourselves into getting our guns and pumping ourselves up to go out and make revolution or civil war without any clue or idea of what that really means. They have some romanticized notion of overthrowing what they see as the evil order creating their misery. All they have to do is show up in force with their weaponry and take over. Unfortunately, nothing is ever what we envision in our fantasies. Going down this path, we open doors with no idea and no control of the outcome Once you initiate this kind of action, the process takes over, and no one has the slightest idea of where it will end up. You should not believe and accept my word on this. You need to study history and discover for yourself.
Our own revolution in 1776 went in directions no one envisioned. What emerged in 1787 was not what most thought or would have wanted at the beginning. We can see what happened in France after 1789, in Russia after 1917, and elsewhere.
We all share the same wish. We want good-paying jobs, enough income to be comfortable and provide for our families. We disagree on the best way to achieve these dreams. In a society such as ours, there are inevitably divergent views. If we take the time to listen, we may discover we agree on far more than we disagree. Our government needs serious reform. The checks and balances our founders put in place 234 years ago have been breached, perverted, and neutralized by those who put their personal interests above the rest of us. The system is broken, and the social contract voided. The fault is our own, by our collective apathy and neglect.
“You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You better free your mind instead”
As I watched in horrified silence at the assault on the Capitol, I recalled words spoken to me by a Russian emigre student in my U.S. History class in the late 1990s. He and his family had been forced to flee Uzbekistan after the collapse of the Soviet Union. We were discussing a historical event after class when he looked at my eyes. “You Americans are always in a hurry, but you don’t know where you’re going…You don’t realize how fast it can all go away.” At this moment I am reflecting on those words.
The way forward is for us to listen to the anger, frustration, pain, and feelings of disrespect and abandonment. We must be willing to listen and respond to their calls for help. We need to acknowledge their grievances and design programs to address their needs. We all occupy the same boat. If we fail to fix the leak at the bottom, those below may drown first, but we will all drown in the end.
See also at: Jerrymlawson.medium.com