What is a revolution?
Typically in the last 100 years or so, a revolution would occur when the power governing a nation state became so blind and the powerless underclasses became so frustrated that street demonstrations erupted, which in turn led to the middle class becoming involved because of risks to their livelihoods.
When we look for that pattern at home we tend to get smug. Other than a few localized sit-ins, not since our own violent birth as a nation have we experienced the broad-based underclass unrest that has been the traditional basic trigger of revolution.
Beware! What we may be overlooking is a new possible trigger: the Tea Party Movement, which is much more middle class based than underclass. And the Tea Party's concerns are less about poverty and the traditional reasons for unrest than they are about the reverse problem which is that the majority today and for many decades (regardless of the party in power) has been giving more to the underclass and been less concerned about the burden that falls on the middle classes.
The Tea Party seems heavily focused on preserving what they see as their advantages and privileges and they appear to be seeking to block governmental efforts that aim to help the underclasses at their expense.
It is true that the political color blue represents the masses of citizens and the color red more represents the less densely populated parts of the country. Thus the political divide appears more and more to be the many vs. the few, the countryside vs. the cities. The 'many' includes the underclasses and the more educated and the fewer is more and more the middle classes and the less well educated.
The seriously rich seem to float comfortably above both blue and red because they are in the main nicely insulated from the consequences of the redistribution effects of what bothers the blues and the reds.
Thus, if we are witnessing the leading edge of a new and third American revolution, it is coming from a very large middle class struggling to retain its ability to enjoy its middle class status and relative economic advantages vs. the underclasses. Those underclasses, to the Tea Party proponents, are benefiting from more and more governmental largess obtained in the ballot boxes that elect Democratic Presidents and Congresses who keep on expanding government programs designed to benefit the whole country in all the forms of social benefits, now including expanded health care.
The second American Revolution that began in the 1860s had a lot of similarity to today. The underclass was the slaves; but they were not yet able to rise up on their own. The middle class was the agricultural barons of the South, who feared they could not compete economically if they lost their supply of free labor. They blindly thought they could save what they considered their birthright by leaving the Union. And the bloodiest war in all our history ensued where brothers and cousins from both sides of the Mason Dixon line fought and killed each other with impunity.
The possible coming third revolution is bottomed on a false sense of rights to governmental protection for a class of Americans who largely obtained their current rights from that very same system. They do not seem to realize that they are really saying: "We got into this great tree house through our own efforts, if you, the underclass wants to join us here, it is up to you to do it on your own."
The classic sense of "denial" is a powerful tonic, therefore just preaching to the Tea Parties that they are wrong and do not understand, will not suffice to dampen their revolutionary ardor.
The most likely way to deflect the coming revolution from today's entitled middle classes is to show them over and over again profiles of their journeys from yesterday's underclasses to their current comforts of middle class life.
If enough of them see themselves in the mirrors of the reality of their lives, hopefully they may come to understand how and why their political views today could turn out to be massively self-destructive to all they hope for and dream about.
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