It's not difficult to conclude we are witnessing the rise of pre-revolutionary America. From the ravages of globalization and the offshoring of the nation's manufacturing base which once nurtured America's middle class to still rapidly growing inequality that is the worst, by far, in the developed world and marked by poverty levels now encroaching on segments of the population that were once securely middle class to the decline of American democracy and the rise in its stead of authoritarian oligarchy and corporatism, the country has become a pressure cooker with no functioning safety valve.
Consider this observation from David Cay Johnston, researcher and author of books such as Perfectly Legal, Free Lunch and The Fine Print:
From 1966 – when Lyndon Johnson was president -- to 2011, 45 years
later, the bottom 90 percent of Americans’ average income, as reported
on tax returns, went up by a stunning $59 -- almost no change at all. If
you measure that $59 increase for the vast majority of Americans as one
inch, then on the same scale, the incomes of those in the top ten
percent went up by 168 feet. The top one percent, 888 feet. The
plutocrats -- the Mitt Romney crowd, the top one percent of the top one
percent? Their incomes rose by almost five miles relative to that one
We are falling behind left and right. We have a Congress that just
cut money for scientific research. We’ve got people who are idiots. I
mean that word very clearly, “idiots”, like Sarah Palin going around
saying, “Why are we paying for fruit fly research?” Anybody who
understands science knows that massive advancements in human knowledge –
knowledge that has saved lives -- have come from studying fruit flies.
If you’re an idiot like Sarah Palin, if you’re Donald Trump, if you’re
Senator Cruz from Texas, then you don’t get it.
We really have to
get a society that’s based on science and knowledge (sound familiar?), that has an
economic system that’s based on competitive markets with protections for
consumers. While the rest of the world’s going to run right by us,
we’re falling behind!
America doesn't have all that many options remaining to its people. They can stage Tea Party rallies while essentially doing nothing to forestall their decline. They can harness their grievances and discontent to drive a new progressive era to restore their democracy and reclaim their civil, political, human and economic rights. Or, as Chris Hedges writes, they can endure revolution and run the risk of all the uncertain and usually awful ordeals that follow in the wake of revolt.
Perhaps within a decade or two we will see the end of the first American Republic and the birth of the Second Republic.