Third Party & Independents Archives

Americans Unready to Revolt, Despite Revolting Conditions

The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal national poll results vividly show a population incredibly dissatisfied with their political system. In other countries in other times such a depressing level of confidence in government would send a signal to those running the government that a major upheaval is imminent. But not here in the USA. Why?

First, here are the highlights of the poll that surveyed 1,008 adults from June 8-11, with a margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.

A whopping 68 percent think the country is on the wrong track. Just 19 percent believe the country is headed in the right direction - the lowest number on that question in nearly 15 years. And most of those with the positive view are probably in the Upper Class.

Bush’s approval rating is at just 29 percent, his lowest mark ever in the survey. Only 62 percent of Republicans approve, versus 32 percent who disapprove. Take Republicans out of the picture and a fifth or less of Americans have a positive view of Bush.

Even worse, only 23 percent approve of the job that Congress is doing. So much for that wonderful new Democratic control of Congress. Bipartisan incompetence is alive and well.

On the economic front, nearly twice as many people think the U.S. is more hurt than helped by the global economy (48 to 25 percent). Globalization does not spread wealth; it channels it to the wealthy, making billionaires out of millionaires.

I have long asserted that Americans live in a delusional democracy with delusional prosperity and these and loads of other data support this view. There is a super wealthy and politically powerful Upper Class that is literally raping the nation. Meanwhile, the huge Lower Class continues to lose economic ground while their elected representatives sell them out to benefit the Upper Class. Yet no rational person thinks that a large fraction of the population is ready to rise up in revolt against the evil status quo political-economic system that so clearly is not serving the interests of the overwhelming majority of Americans. Why not?

For a nation that was built on a revolt against oppressive governance by the British, something has been lost from our political DNA. We apparently no longer have the gene for political rebellion. It has been bred out of most of us. And those of us that urge a Second American Revolution are seen as fringe, nutty subversives.

Part of the genius of our contemporary ruling class elites is that they have engineering a state of political and economic oppression that paradoxically is still embraced by the Lower Class. The rational way to understand this is that ordinary, oppressed Americans are in a deep psychological state of self-delusion. Despite all the empirical, objective evidence of a failed government, they fail to see rebellion opportunities. Many still believe they live in the world’s best democracy. But across all elections considerably less than half the citizens even bother to vote anymore. Yet, as the new NBC/Journal poll results show, people are cognitively aware of just how awful the political-economic system is. Yet they are not feeling enough pain to seriously consider rebellion. And it is visceral pain that must drive people to the daring act of rebellion.

Why is there insufficient pain for revolution? This is a deadly serious issue. What is historically unique about America is that even the most oppressed and unfairly treated people are distracted by affordable materialism, entertainment, sports, gambling, and myriad other aspects of our frivolous, self-absorbed culture. Even failed school and health care systems do not drive people, paying enormous sums to fill up their SUVs, to rebellion. So, Americans are aware of their oppression, but the power elites have successfully drugged them with a plethora of pleasure-producing distractions sufficient to keep them under control. We are free to bitch, but too weak to revolt. The Internet has provided a release valve for some pent up anger and frustration. But it too has mostly become another source of distraction, rather than an effective tool for rebellion.

Though these new poll statistics make news, those in control of the political-economic system are not afraid that the population is on the verge of retaking their constitutionally guaranteed sovereign power and take back their nation. Thousands of people like me keep writing books and articles and creating protest groups and events. Those in power just find new, ingenious ways to keep the population distracted – if not through pleasure, then certainly through fear of terrorism. Growing economic insecurity also contributes to self-paralysis, as do never-ending political lies.

What a system.

Even as the population has growing awareness of the dire condition of their nation, the move by the politically powerful on the right and left continues to seek a new immigration law that will solidify the selling out of America. Business interests want more of those fleeing Mexico and other nations to keep wages low. Instead of Mexicans rising up in rebellion against their oppressive government and economic system they escape to the USA. But Americans have no such viable escape solution. Though global warming will certainly make Canada increasingly attractive.

So what do Americans have – other than a terribly bleak future? Where is hope in our dismal world?

In a bizarre twist of history that further illustrates just how impotent Americans have become, virtually all citizens are either unaware of or unreceptive to the ultimate escape route that the Framers of our Constitution gave us. They anticipated that Americans could become quite dissatisfied with the federal government. They feared that the political system could become incredibly corrupted by moneyed interests. They were right.

So here we sit over 200 years after our nation was created unwilling to use what is explicitly given to us in Article V of the Constitution – the option to have a convention outside the control of Congress, the President and the Supreme Court to make proposals for constitutional amendments. Do we really believe in the rule of law? If so, then we should understand that the supreme law of the land – what is in our Constitution – is the ultimate way to obtain the deep political and government reforms to restore true democracy and economic fairness to our society.

Make no mistake: an Article V convention has been stubbornly opposed by virtually all groups with political and economic power. This is most evidenced by the blatant refusal of Congress to obey the Constitution and give us an Article V convention, even though the single explicit requirement for a convention has been met. This fact alone should tell rational people that they are being screwed and oppressed. The rule of law is trumped by the rule of delusion. Our lawmakers are lawbreakers.

Come learn more about the effort to get an Article V convention at www.foavc.org and become a member. Do not keep witnessing the unraveling of American society, voting for lesser evil candidates, and believing the propaganda that putting different Democrats or Republicans in office will actually improve things for most of us. Choose peaceful rebellion by using what our Constitution gives us. Fight self-delusion.

Posted by Joel S. Hirschhorn at June 14, 2007 9:30 AM
Comments
Comment #223180

Joel,

I’d hazard that it’s because most of the people dissatisfied are not so dissatisfied that they want to revolt. However, I realize that you are not talking about bloody revolution.

I have nothing against convening a Constitutional Convention, but I’m not certain it’s as clear as you claim that the requirements for one have been met. A few months ago on Watchblog you wrote about this topic. I thought the ensuing discussion was a good one. Here’s the link to article and the attendant comments. If nothing else, it can help us all get up to speed again.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 14, 2007 10:19 AM
Comment #223185

I am no lawyer but the way I read it the only say so congress has is to determine whether it will be ratified by the legislators of each state or a convention of each state. So that would mean if your state would like to join a group of 2/3 of the states and propose ammentments to the constitution, then go for it.

Posted by: Lil Sue at June 14, 2007 11:32 AM
Comment #223190

Joel, your article is frought with false or questionable assumptions. For example, your assertion that Americans have not “gene” for revolution. The election of Nov 2006 reflected a revolution. The voters overturned the party controlling Congress. Ergo, change, which is what revolution is about, is very much a capacity of the American people.

I agree with your assumption that changing from Republican to Democratic control in Congress amounts to “small change” in the grand scheme of things. But, your article errs in making the assumption that the American people are not up for change, the polls say otherwise. Change requires alternatives. That is a key hurdle to the people making substantive changes, without resorting to extreme measures.

There is a risk / cost relationship here to be factored in. The risks of opening a Constitutional Convention are perceived to be high. The perceived cost of alternatives is low, such as working from within the system: changing parties, voting out incumbents, growing the numbers of independent voters while diminishing the numbers of Duopoly Party loyalists, all trends now underway.

The bottom line is, as long as the majority of the people are in the middle class, and the middle class perceives itself to be relatively well off compared to the lower class and other people’s of the world, the incentive toward revolution will be extremely low. That is, in fact, one of the greatest strengths of a democratically elected form of government.

Of course, in times like these where the ship of state is headed directly in the path of the convergence of a “perfect storm”, it is also an Achille’s Heel, as the great middle class apathy is not likely to take drastic measures to alter the course of the ship of state away from perfect storm, of killer debt, demographic poverty in the making (entitlements), and loss of competitive advantage in a global market place combined with a declining educational product from our schools.

The window of opportunity to alter our nation’s direction toward the perfect storm is closing and some estimate it will be closed as early as 2017, only 10 years or 4 election cycles from now. In historic terms, this means time is very, very short. But, the American people are open to change that improve the future with minimal risk. And there is hope in that.

With the requirement that 3/4 of the states would have to ratify the product of any Constitutional changes, it is unlikely that the kind of changes we need can be accomplished from a structural alteration to our Constitution. It seems to me clear that the change that is required is one of perception and awareness on the part of voters.

If the public is so negative on current conditions, it is logical for the public to translate that dissatisfaction into a backlash against those responsible for leading the country to this precipice, i.e. the incumbent politicians.

Voting out incumbents opens the door to replacement politicians who will be less likely to repeat the mistakes which got their incumbent predecessors booted out of office. That means freshman politicians less beholding to the entrenched wealthy special interests that forced the hands of the incumbents. The potential for real and significant change in America’s future lies in this path. But, only if the voters act to take that path in the next decade. Still, it is a far less radical and threatening path than a Constitutional Convention at least perceptually.

I say that because the public loves our Constitution, and altering it, requires the public have even greater love for the proposed changes to it. And that love does not exist, let alone a consensus on what those proposed changes should be.

Restructuring government Constitutionally only comes when a nation has failed and the majority of its people are in revolt. America is not in that circumstance, yet. Hence, the motivation for revamping the Constitution does not exist. That is not the answer for these times.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 14, 2007 12:48 PM
Comment #223193

How exactly are we being oppressed. If you (plural you, not you personally,) own a car and a computer you are among the richest 10% of people in the world, you are not financial oppressed. If you are able to post your point of view on this blog you are not polically oppressed. If you are able to go or not go to the religious place of your choice and not be harassed, you are not religiously oppressed.

If I have less money than Paris Hilton am I now oppressed? If I can’t force my views on the American public does that make be oppressed? If you want to understand oppression move to - Venezuela, any Islamic country, China (almost all of Asia for that matter), India, Indonesia, and Africa, (also almost in its entirety). Ooops, that is almost the rest of the world.

Posted by: Chef Phil at June 14, 2007 1:38 PM
Comment #223200

The widespread disapproval and dissatisfaction with government you mention is NOT dissatisfaction with our FORM of government, which was the reason behind rebelling again Britain and which is the only excuse for the kind of rebellion you’re talking about.

Dissatisfaction with our government is in large measure because the populace doesn’t agree amongst themselves about public policy despite our right to vote and to “rebel” every two years if we so wish.

We’re so dividided about so many things that nobody really gets their way—hence the degree of dissatisfaction. The desire to “rebel” despite oneself and others having the right to vote is a desire to have the whole pie for yourself, to impose one agenda and suppress everyone else’s. It’s actually a fairly fascist desire.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at June 14, 2007 5:25 PM
Comment #223201

Loyal Opp., your view is way too simple. The populace not agreeing is hardly the cause of political dissatisfaction. The Dissatisfaction is the cause of the population not agreeing. Which is to say, that too many aspects of our FORM of government as implemented are FAILING to solve more problems than it creates or ignores.

Campaign financing for example of two parties who control all of government was never addressed in our Constitution, yet, these two facts of government (limited parties, and buying legislation through campaign financing) control the vast machinery of our government and most issues it touches in the citizen’s lives.

When the Supreme Court defined money as speech, it literally gave control of government to the wealthy special interests and told the American working people and their families to piss off and shut up until they have made their first few million in investments.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 14, 2007 5:53 PM
Comment #223202

David, your comments illustrate my point exactly.

Since we do not agree about what “the problems” are, even if we agree that that there are problems, we cannot agree at about the solutions and will remain dissatisfied.

You mention campaign finance. I happen to believe, and a great many others agree with me, that the government has no business meddling in this area (at least in the ways they’ve done recently) because of infringments of the first amendment. I think that McCain-Feingold should be abolished. It sounds like you want something more stringent than McCain-Feingold.

This is a matter of real disagreement among many parties, and a perfect example of how an impasse has led to all of us being dissatisfied. Even if one or both sides “rebelled” in some way besides simply voting, the dissatisfaction and disagreement wouldn’t go away. In fact, it would become immeasurably worse.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at June 14, 2007 6:08 PM
Comment #223205

Lil Sue: you seem confused; read Article V; the first part of the amending process is the proposal stage; either Congress does it or, if 2/3 of state legislatures ask for a convention, then Congress “shall” call a convention; which it has refused to do.

As to the other views: I think I may be a lot older than many of this site’s active readers/commenters. At age 67 and with considerable experience in public policy what I see is an epidemic of self-delusion, especially when it comes to getting badly needed systemic changes - too many people delude themselves about the importance of putting different Democrats or Republicans in office; the 06 election was no revolution and it has produced absolutely no significant policy changes. Too many people who do want change are incrementalists; incrementalism has gotten us to where we are today. Positive incremental changes are more than offset by the ingenious and stealth backwards changes engineered by the power elites.

As I told a good old friend today who asked my about my optimism: I see the USA in the toilet, waiting for the final flush.

Posted by: Joel S. Hirschhorn at June 14, 2007 6:17 PM
Comment #223216

“As I told a good old friend today who asked my about my optimism: I see the USA in the toilet, waiting for the final flush.”
Posted by: Joel S. Hirschhorn at June 14, 2007 06:17 PM


Joel, you’re a bit harsh!
Some people in the U.S. are in their individual toilets, because they think it is most fun to swim alone. Yet, they are so miserable they try to convince others that every one in the U.S. is in the toilet.
But there are still some of us who prefer the beach when we can afford to take off work long enough to get to it.
My question is, how long are those people going to stay in their toilets? If they’re just waiting for someone else to flush, they’re going to be neck deep in it for a long, long, time, while watching others enjoy the beach every once in a while. Americans have an easier way out of their toilets than any other people in the world; if they are willing to try hard enough. But they have to quit enjoying their toilets first!

JD

Posted by: JD at June 14, 2007 10:31 PM
Comment #223218

Alcoholics Annonymous defines insanity as: doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Isn’t that what we are doing? Where are the new ideas? We don’t change the status quo by rehashing old ideas. If you want change have a new idea. Challange me to think!

Posted by: Chef Phil at June 14, 2007 11:24 PM
Comment #223221

Chef Phil, I don’t think there is really a lack of new ideas out there. Listen to politicians and pundits, and you’ll hear new ideas about everything under the sun. There are hundreds of ideas running around out there about everything from health care, to energy, to education.

Take school vouchers. Many consider it a terrific idea, but enough people and vested special interests don’t agree, so nothing changes.

There are people out there calling for decriminalizaton of drugs, legalizing prostitution, a single-payer health care system, tort-reform, congressional term limits, abolition of federal income tax—you name it, somebody is calling for it.

Like I was saying, the main reason that politicians do not enact these ideas is that the American people do not agree about them.

I have no affection for politicians, but at least I’m honest enough to admit that it’s because they don’t run the country according to the way I think it should be run.

But believe me, if they did do everything I want, it wouldn’t necessarily thrill the rest of my fellow citizens and the chorus of belly-aching would probably grow even louder.

People decry the lack of cooperation and agreement in government. But put five people together who aren’t in government, and you’ll likely get five totally different and irreconcilable opinions about what America should look like.

It’s completely normal, and this level of disagreement is simply what a democratic society looks like. We’re never (I hope and pray) ever going to see a situation in America like we once had in Iraq—where Saddam Hussein routinely won reelection with no less than 100% of the vote. That’s what agreement looks like, and we don’t need it.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at June 14, 2007 11:49 PM
Comment #223233

Joel I would think more of your articles and of your analysis if you weren’t so see through. I can click on one of your articles and be like hmmmm I wonder when he is gonna mention an article V convention. And it is always there. Your arguments are basically sexy lingerie….they are see through.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at June 15, 2007 5:22 AM
Comment #225816

Hey posters,
It seems to me a constitutional convenvention would be a long dreary path and just another way for existing politicians to continue to obfuscate the status quo.
Seems to me, the best way out of this morass is to get unity out of the existing “Independant Parties”, get them to unite by sublimating some of their petty differences. (How about a “UNity Party” composed of independant parties.)
There you go independants, go for the power of unity.
I personally am a Libertarian,3rd and fastest growing party & have been for 10-12 years. YET, find they are largely ineffective because the anti-demacrooks/republiscum are too divided into TOO many little Independant parties. Wake up Independants, GO FOR A UNITY PARTY.

Posted by: Coy Keller at July 11, 2007 12:32 PM
Comment #227714

joel is right. hes 67 he knows whats up
im 19, but im no idiot, our govt needs a big time reality check. none of the solutions anyone else has mentioned are of any worth.

David R. Remer - get people to get out and vote? yeah right that’s always worked in the past. vote out encumbants? roughly 90% get re-elected!!!!!

Coy Keller - form a unity party? are you kidding me? just because they’re a dem or a repub doesnt mean they are trash. those words change meanings every couple decades anyway.

the only answer i see is amending the constitution, if only slightly, so that politicians arent motivated by money, and corporations are kept in check by thier charters. AS OUR FOUNDING FATHERS INTENDED.

PS that loyal opposition guy you must be rich or something, being happy with the government as it is now. you have to look at current trends. look at the concentration of wealth, the highest its been since just before the great depression. look at the political climate, worst approval ratings across the board. now is the time for REAL CHANGE tradition has failed you and money is your master.

Posted by: berry at July 29, 2007 5:17 AM
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