The conservatives (who tend to see danger under every bed anyway) are screaming for the heads of the disorganized, disgruntled demonstrators on Wall Street and elsewhere. "It's revolution!" they shriek. The so-called left agrees, crowing that the revolution has arrived at last—or at least it tootles toward us on its merry courteous way.
Sadly, the real Revolution—the organized one—has already come, achieved success beyond any grandee's wildest dreams, and has for some time been settled in as the status quo in what used to be our admittedly flawed democracy. The Revolution began with Ronald Reagan, who quashed reasonable taxes on the rich and on corporations and began the job of slashing oversight on everything from unions, and health and safety for workers to the financial services industry. It continued through Bill Clinton who, if he could only have kept his pants zipped, would have put Social Security on the table for privatization. He had a committee working on it when he was dragged before the American people to explain Monica's stained dress. As it was, Clinton did manage to eliminate welfare, something the Republicrats could never have done.
The real Revolution continued through 9/11, when the sheep of this nation lowered their eyes and turned away from the stripping of the Constitution as well as the public exposure of a rotten core underlying our "democracy," one that gloried in torturing people for the hell of it. The fiends who had been tutoring Latin Americans oligarchs found new employment in teaching the skills of waterboarding and stress positions to the next generation of torturers. We the People, as the saying goes, meekly acceded, begging only, "Keep us safe!"
The revolution finds a home, as well, in Barack Obama who has stepped up punitive measures on whistle blowers, presided over the dismantling of "Hope" from his watery Medicare bill, further demolished, to laughable, bills putatively creating rules that will keep Wall Street from decimating our economy yet again. Those bills would be ineffectual even if Congress funded any of them.
The "occupiers" of Wall Street and innumerable other communities, large and small, find themselves in the position of the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, although perhaps not quite as valiant. They seek to restore our republic to its former glory—and oh yes, please throw in some jobs and give us our homes back. Is there any more, sir?? The demonstrators bristled when Fox News and other minions of the media charged them with "anti-capitalist" intentions. They grew defensive over the accusation that they had launched class war: "The rich did it first!"
The demonstrators are disorganized because they came together spontaneously, out of rage. The majority of Americans, I suspect, share their rage. Years of watching wages remain static while bonuses for bozos skyrocketed reached an apotheosis in foreclosures and unemployment. The President who promised us "Change!" delivered the same-old same-old and then scolded us for not being happy with our watery porridge. He even had the gall to suggest that the American dream of owning your own home was outdated. "Renting is fine," said our President, a man who will never stretch a pathetic retirement income to cover an ever-escalating rent. That retirement income itself, of course, is on the chopping block. We can't have war, huge bonuses, massive profits, AND social services. By the way, the infrastructure must crumble as well. Nothing is too dear to sacrifice to the greedy. And I'm not referring to homeowners who took out seemingly attractive mortgages.
A side story that's on point: Around the time Countrywide was riding high and wide, my husband and I decided to refinance our home. The rates were very attractive so we contacted the broker who had arranged our then current mortgage. We made it clear we wanted a fixed rate, not an adjustable rate, mortgage. Fine, she said, and quoted us a great percentage point. We agreed and the house was assessed, the paperwork drawn up and sent to us for signature. My husband, a meticulous man, went over the paperwork slowly and carefully. In the fine print, he discovered Countrywide's nasty little secret: The loan was NOT fixed rate but adjustable, with a horrendous escalation rate built in. As we tossed the paperwork into the shredder, I thought about the people without a PhD, without the patience and the ability to wade through oceans of lawyer-speak to uncover what they were actually signing onto. Later, when pundits blamed homeowners for jumping at these loans, I remembered how Countrywide nearly caught us in their fishnet.
For the last several years, the hubris of the ruling class has flowed like blood in the streets. Not strange that several Wall Street titans saw fit to toast the rabble below by quaffing champagne on their balconies and tittering.
For now, the "occupiers" (of our bought and paid-for real estate) must subscribe to nonviolence. Otherwise, our frightened populace will run back to their sheep pens and huddle. While Europe and the Middle East fight fire with fire, Americans hope their rulers will play nice. A few weeks or months of hoisting picket signs, chanting slogans, and throwing a few "Christians" to the lion-hearted cops—who boast that their "little nightsticks" are going to "get a workout"—and we can all go home.
And resume business as usual.
Say it isn't so, Sam.