A Tale of Four Political Revolutions

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - 2:52pm

Whether you like strong Government, or not - there is no question that government shapes our economy and our day-to-day lives.  Changes in Government policy change our country - and changes in Government policy stem from those who occupy the seats of power.  

From 1980 on, we have seen three "Political Revolutions" that have shifted power & policy - and we are now in the midst of a fourth.  Each of these has taken the form of a power block occupying first, a major political party, and then our Government at all levels.

From New Deal to New Right:  Around 1980, I found myself rivited to a TV screen, watching C-SPAN broadcast the takeover of the United States Government by the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan.  C-SPAN broadcast live from a grassroots platform-writing workshop.  From that workshop sprang fired-up party activists who went on to run for office at all levels of Government - from dogcatcher, to School Committee, to City Council, to Mayor, to State House, to Congress, to the Presidency.  From those workshops sprang a dramatic shift of our Government from Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, John Kennedy's New Frontier,  Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, and even the progessive policies of Richard Nixon (Detente, A Run at National Health Care, Negative Income Tax, the EPA).  The Right Wing took over the Republican Party, and then our Governments at all levels.

1985 brought us the Democratic Leadership Council, and campaigns fueled by big-money interests - bringing us the Presidency of Bill Clinton, Welfare Reform, the Telecom Act of 1996 (yes, it brought us telecom. competition - but it also paved the way to massive media consolidation), NAFTA & CAFTA, and a shift of the Democratic Party from "The Party of the People" to centrist and "Republican Lite" policies.

2008 brought us economic collapse, Barack Obama, and the Tea Party.  Initially, a populist reaction to Wall Street excess, the Tea Party quickly became a heavily backed, and artfully directed campaign - driven by exceptionally conservative, monied interests (notably David & Charles Koch, acting through Citizens for a Sound Economy.)  Thoroughly co-opted, the Tea Party went on to sponsor candidates who further consolidated Republican control and conservative policies at all levels of Government.

"2016 - Not me, Us:"  Bernie Sanders proclaims "We need a political revolution of millions of people in this country who are prepared to stand up and say, 'enough is enough'."  Fueled by a new bread of self-organizing movement politics, the Millenial Generation, hashtags, and Social Media - we are seeing a new Political Revolution that just may swing the Nation back to a progessive direction, and reclaim Government Of the People, By the People, For the People.  



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