Thursday, April 14, 2016


“In tattered tuxedos they faced the new heroes
and crawled about in confusion.
And they sheepishly grinned for their memoroes were dim
of the decades of dark execution.
Hollow hands were raised; they stood there amazed
in the shattering of their illusions.
As the windows were smashed by the ringing of revolution.”

-          Phil Ochs – “Ringing of Revolution” (1966)

I’ve seen it coming for over a year. This is how I put it in May, 2015: “Something must change. Our leaders were elected to serve the people, not oppress them.   They must re-embrace our founding principles. If they fail in that, revolution will come.” Well, a year has passed and nothing’s changed. Now, unfortunately, the nation’s mood is even uglier than it was a year ago. As Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs put it in the 60’s, “There’s revolution in the air.”

Those of us who came of age in the sixties have been down this road before. Everywhere we turned it seemed that upheaval was the order of the day. Radical groups were formed in response to almost every societal issue. There was the Weather Underground and Students for Democratic Society. There were radical feminists; there were Yippies.  It became so omnipresent that author Tom Wolfe coined a term for it. He called it “radical chic.”

It was fun for a while, but it ended when they killed the priests and prophets of our generation. The revolution ground to a halt and our reward was Richard Nixon and Watergate followed by Jimmy Carter and the great malaise. About 10 years after that, Lee Iacocca and Chrysler got a billion and half from the American taxpayers to stave off bankruptcy. Tom Paxton, a folk relic of the sixties, saw the injustice of it and decided he would change his name to Chrysler and go to Washington to get his free money.

But, what about 21st century America? Shouldn’t we Middle-Americans all change our names to Goldman-Sachs, Citibank, or General Motors and then get our bailouts?
There’s no doubt that the contemporary stage has been set for revolution. Liberals know it. Conservatives know it. Libertarians know it. Democratic voters know it; Republican voters know it. Men know it, as do women. America’s poor know it. So does the American middle class. In fact, almost everyone knows it except for the politicians, who seem more interested in staying in power than fixing Middle America’s problems.

It’s no wonder, then, that we’re on the cusp of revolution.  It’s the kind of thing that almost always happens when government turns a blind eye to the very people who make a country’s wheels turn. America’s politicians, of all people, should know this, but they can’t seem to remember that our founding revolution came because King George and the British parliament refused to listen to our forefathers’ grievances.

The wheels of revolution seem once again to be spinning, but are we going to see a real revolution this time or is it going to become more like Abbie Hoffman’s “revolution for the hell of it?”  Will we find a peaceful way to solve our problems or have they metastasized to the point that we’re facing the prospect of flinging tear gas canisters and Molotov cocktails back and forth in the streets or heaving bricks through some innocent shopkeeper’s windows to get our point across?

Which way will we go? That depends on our leaders. Our founding revolution, for example, was crafted by men like Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, Adams, and Hamilton. They were the revolutionaries who gave us our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and ordered liberty.

So, who are the 21st century revolutionaries who will help us re-form a “more perfect union?” Who will “promote the general welfare?” Who is waiting in the wings to “establish justice?” Who’s going to secure the “Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity?
I’m coming up empty. How about you?

The sad truth is, we have no Washingtons or Jerffersons or Franklins or Madisons. We have nothing but self-serving political hacks.

On the Republican side, we’ve got Trump and Cruz. The world hasn’t seen megalomaniacs like them since Machiavelli or the Marquis de Sade. Then, if megalomania isn’t your cup of tea, there’s John Kasich, who’s trying to hug his way to the Oval Office.

On the Democratic side, there’s Clinton and Sanders.  Hillary claims she’s a woman of the people, but Goldman-Sachs, who purchased her at $200,000 per speech, would dispute that. Bernie says he’s going to break up the big banks, but when he was recently asked by the N.Y. Daily News editorial board how he was going to do it, told them didn’t have a clue.

What’s next for America? Having sown the wind, will we now reap the whirlwind? Will the center hold? Will we enter that dark time foreseen by William Butler Yeats, when “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world and the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned?”

How will this all play out? As the old folk tune goes, the answers to the questions are, as they always have been, “blowing in the wind.”

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