By Tom Randall
"Revolutions are not made; they come. A revolution is as natural a growth as an oak. It comes out of the past. Its foundations are laid far back." — Wendell Phillips, abolitionist, January 8, 1852
Hindsight, always prized for its accuracy, shows that rebellion does not come quickly or easily, particularly to Americans.
The American Revolution wasn't caused by a few hot-heads getting together during a steamy summer in Philadelphia and suddenly hatching a plot to drive the British out of the colonies. Decades of legal remedies against the Crown were pursued before Paul Revere aroused his farmer friends to ambush British troops at the bridges of Lexington and Concord on the morning of April 18, 1775.
No crazed nutcase impulsively took a pot shot at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. The South had pursued its case against the will of Northerners in the courts and Congress for decades as well, before attempting to severe their ties with the rest of the country by force. You can still argue the outcome of the South's rebellion many different ways. Ending slavery was good. Crushing states' rights has had numerous negative impacts stemming from that which remain unresolved.
So, too, in Russia, France, and for that matter among ruling classes in most of the world, clear signs of rebellion have been ignored throughout history. The Tsars, the French Court, the British Crown and its governors were all minorities who ignored the mainstream people and their needs until the very end.
Today we often refer to the "ruling class". Pollster Scott Rasmussen calls them the "political class". Most of my conservative friends prefer "liberal elitists". Whatever. They are a tiny minority ignoring the clear will of the massive mainstream that has for decades wanted smaller, less intrusive government accompanied by lower taxes and no deficits.
That's why Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, has approval ratings lower than used-car salesmen, phone companies and airlines. Sitting Presidents fare little better. Bush was reviled while in office but that succeeding "hopey-changey" stuff isn't what folks had in mind either.
Back in 1980 and 1984 Ronald Reagan rode to sweeping victories on three simple propositions: winning the Cold War, cutting taxes and making government smaller and less intrusive. Two out of three isn't bad; liberal elitists still made government larger and more intrusive.
So, after his successor, Bush 41, went back on his pledge to not raise taxes, voters bounced him for Clinton who, on the surface, seemed to be one of them. When he turned out to be a tax-and-spend liberal trying to foist an Obamaesque health care plan on the country and refused to reform welfare, voters threw the Democrats out of congressional control in 1994 to keep him in check. The politically agile Clinton immediately tacked to the middle to keep his job but government continued to grow.
When the newly powerful Republicans began to govern just like big-spending, big-government liberals, voters put Democrats back in control in one more vain stab at cutting an out-of-control government.
Now, having once more been unsuccessful in getting government in check and finding a Marxist in the White House, the voters have thrown the Democrats out again and ushered in Republicans for one more try.
A couple things seem clear from all this. The illusion of partisanship is just that. For over three decades, voters have been switching those in power with astounding regularity, without much regard for party because they have seen neither party show much regard for their views.
In short, voters have turned to the ballot box, their only constitutionally legal remedy, in an effort to force their government to listen to their needs— exercising their legal remedies first, just as the American revolutionaries and the Southern rebels did before them.
After running through all of the above with a politically-knowledgeable friend who is an avid student of history he agreed with the premises and simply asked what I thought mainstream America would do should it decide it has exhausted its legal remedies.
I guess we had better hope the Republican leadership “gets it” this time around. This oak has been growing for a while.
Contact: Tom Randall