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October 26, 2010

Coming Revolution

Roy Meachum

All pundits, observers and every media account predict dire disaster for Democrats next Tuesday.


The New York Times, labeled liberal, carried a Sunday column by associate editor Frank Rich:


“Obama, the Rodney Dangerfield of 2010, gets no respect for averting another Great Depression, for saving 3.3 million jobs with stimulus spending or salvaging GM and Chrysler from the junkyard.”


Mr. Rich goes on to blame the administration itself, helped by many critics and downright enemies. My old friend wrote the president and his tightest held crew failed to communicate with the public: “For Obama, the ultimate indignity is the Times/CBS News poll in September showing that only 8 percent of Americans know that he gave 95 percent of Americans a tax cut.”


The country goes into the November 2 voting locked in madness that the angry rabble calling itself The Tea Party did not create, but exemplifies. In a literal snit in September’s primaries, the electorate, in the words, of the old prayer: “Put down the mighty from their exalted seat while elevating those of low degree.” Not quite.


But surprising candidates emerged on top. The real challenge that both Republicans and Democrats face is how to grab back their respective identities. It won’t be easy.


As for general elections next week, it is very safe to predict the party-in-power will lose congressional seats to the party on the outside. I can’t remember a time in my life when it didn’t happen.


The 1946 voting displaced the Democratic rule I had known since early boyhood. The very same thing happened in Great Britain the year before. Winston Churchill, the very symbol of England’s World War II victory; was replaced emphatically with Labor’s Clement Atlee.


In voting several weeks after my 18th birthday, Republicans seized control of both the Senate and House and went on to drive a stake in the heart of the late president-for-life Franklin Delano Roosevelt, limiting any future chief executive to two-terms. The ultimate victim of the Republicans’ revenge was GOP Ronald Reagan, the only likely Oval Office occupant poised to take a third term.


In the next presidential election, the 1948 crop of pundits, observers and every media accounts said flatly, not simply predicted, Harry S Truman would lose in a landslide. With that assurance in his pocket, Chicago Tribune publisher Robert “Bertie” McCormick had a bold headline prepared: “DEWEY WINS!”


As everybody knows, it didn’t happen!


The next president, GOP’s Dwight David Eisenhower handed the White House over to John F. Kennedy. After Mr. Kennedy was assassinated, Lyndon B. Johnson managed to prolong the Democratic reign.


In the present situation, compared extensively to the 1994 midterm, the best possible thing happened to newly sworn-in Bill Clinton. Prompted by nostalgia for life under Mr. Eisenhower and Mr. Reagan, the voting public scuppered Democrats’ control, on both sides of Congress – following the burning torch of Newt Gingrich. After the Georgia congressman went indeed down in flames, exhibiting more self-interest than leadership, Mr. Clinton slipped back into a second term.


Tuesday next week may very well wind up exactly as predicted by pundits, observers and media accounts, but removing the huge cancerous growth in America’s body politic will not be simple. It was created by neither Democrats nor Republicans.


This country may look on France with the smug satisfaction that people from this mainly Anglo-Saxon (still) society always maintains over Mediterranean-Latino people and their affairs – looking askance at the very idea that anyone could riot over raising retirement age to 62.


In fact, no matter what happens in 2010 U.S. balloting, we face a very similar crisis that occurred throughout Europe in the mid-19th century. The existential dissatisfaction of people, women and men, will ignite revolution, in some way.


The 1848 rebellion that led to toppling thrones and monarchies, eventually in Germany, Austro-Hungary and Russia, was blamed on the industrial age. This one might be attributable to the explosion of the electronic era that has destroyed most of all the possibility of anybody being content with what they can possibly achieve.


The invention of a new gadget, including computers and telephones, every day carries with it the hunger for anything better; the frustration increases with a failure to articulate “what” better.


In humanity, as a whole, the former description of Hell may apply, with a variation. Theologians said, having glimpsed the face of God at their last judgment, souls suffer painfully at never being able to see him again.


For a brief spell in the aftermath of World War II, Americans and Europeans experienced how beautiful life can be – home ownership, mobility furnished by automobiles, generous paid vacations and with ever increasing pay. Now we all know paying for that mirage is what these bad times are about.


No matter the results of next week’s midterm voting the madness marches on.


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