May. 17th, 2017

heron61: (America)
We may be looking at the beginning of the end for 45 – dear gods I hope we are – my favorite phrase relating to the latest series of crazed actions is "Watergate speedrun". However, that won't end our troubles, we may be lucky enough that Pence will get caught up in whatever comes out regarding Russia and collusion (presumably simply because he knew what was happening, rather than he was involved, since while he's a vile grim-eyed fanatic, he's not a narcissistic idiot). However, then we end up with President Ryan (or at least some other important House Republican, who range from bad to unbelievably bad), who would thankfully be hampered by the fact that public opinion of the GOP would be in ruins, which doesn't make anything better, but would go a long way towards keeping things from getting worse.

However, we also have an electorate who are continuing to get further apart ideologically. That's been happening with "conservatives" [[1]] for the past 20 years (and even more so for the last 8 years), and has gotten impressively extreme, but for most of that time, progressives have drifted only slightly left – a trend which ended with 45 being elected. Now I'm seeing a whole lot of people on my side of things become notably more progressive and also more militant in their views. We have become a nation where the political divide is getting wider even faster than before. Also, income inequality is now almost as high as it was in the late 1920s, and the US middle class is visibly doing worse than it was 20 or even 10 years ago. None of this is good, and I've wondered periodically if this may result in some sort of large-scale revolt by one side or the other – impeachment proceedings against 45 or clear proof of knowing collusion between 45 & Russia and Congressional Republicans refusing to begin impeachment both seem like possible triggers for this – the first for the right, the second for the left.

I then thought about the 2 most recent eras when popular sentiment brought about vast political and economic changes, the Great Depression, when most of the Roosevelt reforms managed to get put into law because more than a few political leaders were genuinely worried about public revolt, and the late 1960s, when both anti-war and pro-environmental sentiments lead to large-scale public actions that scared the heck out of political leaders, and lead to all manner of fairly positive laws being passed. The key feature in both eras was that public anger got both strong and widespread enough that it scared politicians into taking action they otherwise wouldn't have (it's clear that Roosevelt would have tried to pass his various reforms regardless, but most of Congress backing them required a fair amount of fear).

I'm committed to non-violence, and think any sort of violent revolution would be horrific for large numbers of people, but it's also clear to me that while getting 45 and Pence out of office are absolute necessities, notably more is needed if we want the US to halt its gradual slide into plutocracy and other vileness, fueled by a small number of deeply evil & ludicrously wealthy white men, who don't want anything getting in the way of them becoming even wealthier and more powerful.

Thinking about it from that perspective, the path is clear, if also exceedingly far from simple – we desperately need public action that goes well beyond marches, even large marches. We need general strikes, the sorts of massive marches that disrupt traffic and commerce, and other actions that simultaneously avoid making the general public too afraid (which largely means avoiding violence), while also scaring lots of politicians (by making it subtly being clear that the next step after these actions might well be large-scale violence). Unfortunately, I have no idea how someone could organize a successful general strike or a series of the sorts of massive protests necessary to begin and keep up this sort of pressure. The various loud and aggressive town hall meetings of GOP Congresspeople are an excellent start, but we need considerably more.

[[1]] A term which has increasingly less meaning, beyond serving as an identifier for a deplorable collection of bigots, greedheads, hate-mongers, religious fanatics, socially conservative libertarians, and old people who aren't willing to accept that the fairly dubious party they used to belong to is now entirely morally bankrupt).

In any case, here's an inspirational video:

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