Really wish Bernie’d stop using the word “Revolution.”
Purely personal reaction. Just me being a crank about words again. I don’t expect you to agree with me. Better you don’t. Crankiness isn’t good for the mind or the soul. But the word doesn’t conjure up any positive associations for me, unless preceded by “American” or “Scientific” or followed by “No. 9” or used in connection with what the earth is doing in relation to the sun. Otherwise I immediately think “French”, “Russian”, “Chinese”, or “Sexual.”
Nothing really bad about that last one. Certainly not in the same league as the other three. Again, it’s personal. I don’t think of Stonewall or Roe vs Wade or even of my own good luck in entering my dating years after it did its job revolutionizing. I just see fleeting images of guys with heavy mustaches and gold chains and heavily made-up women in bell bottom jumpsuits.
My own cranky knowledge of history is also at work in my antipathy to the word. Generally, it’s used with an implicit or explicit “political” attached and it’s my belief there’s only been one political revolution in history that didn’t end with something terrible in its own way or as terrible or worse than what it replaced governing the place that got revolutionized and that was ours---and the reason for that was that the “new” government was already in place and running things before the shots were fired at Lexington and Concord. In fact, it can be argued that the “new” government was actually the old government restored after the King and Parliament “revolted” and tried to impose their authority illegally on the self-governing colonies.
Can be argued?
That’s pretty much the case as it’s laid out in the Declaration of Independence.
Most of the founders were liberal-minded and liberal thinking men but they were temperamentally conservative and not comfortable in their roles as revolutionaries. The American colonies had enjoyed generations of benign neglect by England and were used to governing themselves that included electing men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams to public office. Those men saw themselves as defenders of a status quo the King was disrupting. As far as they were concerned, they weren’t the ones trying to turn the world upside down. The world had been turned upside down by the King and the so-called revolutionaries were trying to turn it back rightside up. The King didn’t know to leave well enough alone. The Patriots weren’t taking power. Their constitutional powers were being taken away. In that light, the king was the revolutionary and they were the conservatives.
So, there’s that. Then there’s my prejudiced feelings about the people I’ve known who’ve been most enamored of the word and the concept and the prospect---Right Wingers and Leftists.
It’s not just the Tea Party types who showed up at protests in knee britches and tricorn hats or who have Gadsden flag decals on their Hummers who see themselves as revolutionaries in the spirit of the Founders as popularly imagined. The whole thrust of movement conservatism---of the “Reagan Revolution”---has been towards overthrowing the liberal elites Right Wing Republicans (which is to say all Republicans now) believe have imposed their illegal authority upon the good, God-fearing, regular and real American people. And of course the outcome of their Revolution will put them in charge. That’s what revolutions are all ultimately about. Who gets to be the boss. In my experience, the most revolutionary spirits are also the possessors of the most authoritarian mindsets. What they want most is to be the bosses. That goes for the leftists as well as the Right Wingers.
I can’t help it. I suspect most leftists of being frustrated authoritarians. No. I don’t suspect it. I know they are. All the ones I’ve ever known have been, at any rate. What they want is to live in a world that has been made over new in their image. They want to be the ones in charge, if not directly, then through someone strong enough and bold enough to make sure that the way they think things should be run are the way things are run, no ifs, ands, or buts, and no compromise.
The leftists I’ve known and loved, would-be revolutionaries all, are contemptuous of the processes of Democratic government, because it’s messy, it’s unpredictable, and uncontrollable. Things are continually working out in ways not to their perfect satisfaction. The system is rigged. They know this because it must be. How else to explain why they or at least people who think exactly like them aren’t in charge, running the country exactly as they know it needs to be run. They can’t believe there are that many other people who have other interests and needs of their own, other ideas of their own, other expectations that they can be outvoted in so many places in so many elections. And their only explanation for the perversity of voters refusing to do what leftists know is best for them and everyone is they are corrupt or ignorant. If the former, they are irredeemable. But there’s nothing wrong with the latter a little consciousness raising can’t sure. They can be saved, if only they can be made to listen to reason and submit to some re-education.
Like I said up top. This is just be being a crank. But…
You say you want a revolution?
Bernie Sanders’ campaign has been based on the idea that the country is on the wrong track and headed for ruin, the President and the Democratic Party have failed us, and a major shake up is needed, a revolution, even, in order to…
Wait for it....
Make America great again.
This is what I crankily worry about.
If you convince people that the world needs to be turned upside down and everything made over new, they will follow the person they believe is strong enough, tough enough, and willful enough to do the turning and the remaking. If it all needs to be burned to the ground, they will hire an arsonist. If the temple needs to come crashing down, they will look for a Samson who won’t mind getting himself and everyone else crushed in the process.
There are two candidates in the race for President running on the promise to tear everything down and start over.
If tearing everything down is what you think needs to be done, then Donald Trump is the guy, because he is the one most gleefully geared for demolition and destruction.