“You say you want a revolution / Well, you know / We all want to change the world.”
— John Lennon and Paul McCartney
They say a competent prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. Well, this year in politics, people are so angry that they just might elect one to the presidency. People are so angry that they’re mad.
An election that was supposed to be between the wife of one former president and the brother and son of two others has become a train wreck into a Dumpster fire at a homeless encampment.
The people’s anger is justified. Government doesn’t work, and I mean that statement in all senses.
But that’s been the case for a long time. This year, something is different. Two distinct phenomena have fanned run-of-the-mill anger into stark raving madness. One is on the left, and one is on the right.
On the left, we have the generation called “millennials.” Many are starting to vote, and some are even starting to pay attention. Their defining trait is that they think they’re very special. They’re the generation of Lake Wobegon, where all the kids are above average.
Despite what they’ve been told, however, an average person is by definition mediocre. In this generation of un-achieving millennials, such an average person might be even more mediocre than the usual average person. An average millennial is more average than your average bear.
While these average millennials are ostensibly concerned only with their special happiness and not things they deem shallow, such as money and achievement, they are nonetheless disappointed not to have been rewarded with money for their lack of achievement. In Little League Baseball, after all, they got trophies just for showing up.
Their disappointment turned to anger. Their anger turned to envy. Their envy is directed at the people who didn’t fail — the successful people who achieved what the average ones wanted to achieve but chose not to earn.
Call those successful people “the 1 percent.” Call them the beneficiaries of “white privilege.” Call them “lucky.” But whatever you call them, says your average millennial, call them out. And take their money.
Ask not what you can do for your country, says your average millennial, but what those you envy can do for you.
Their sentiment is reflected in surveys. A recent survey shows that 43 percent of millennials have a favorable view of socialism, while only 32 percent have a favorable view of capitalism. (The other 25 percent apparently have a favorable view of none of the above.)
That’s the left. On the right, people are disappointed that their nation is in decline. We erased red lines we drew in Syria and left diplomats to die in Benghazi. Our borders exist only on maps. Petty dictators ridicule and defy us. Our own president disdains us even though, or perhaps because, we elected him twice.
Unemployment is lower, but only because so many people have quit looking for work. Until recently, the stock market was good, but that won’t change the lives of ordinary people the way a good job might.
So both the left and the right are disappointed, angry and mad. They say they want a revolution. They say they want to change the world.
To that end, the left has rallied round a 73-year-old socialist who has never held a real job and thereby validates their hatred for material things unless they’re free. And he promises to make them that way if only you’ll vote for him.
“Free stuff” has a bad connotation, so he has renamed his promised plunder “fair stuff.” But don’t worry — it will still be free. For a while.
The right has rallied round a reality-television host with a history of failed companies, failed marriages, failed friendships, failed syntax and failed hair. This failure of a man promises to make the rest of us “great again.”
OK, pass the peanuts while we watch the reality-show revolution put on by this odd couple of the left and right.
But recall that back when we had a real revolution — back when America was made great the first time — we had some unusual producers and directors. We had people like Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson and Adams. The revolutionary founders of this nation were unlike any revolutionaries before or since, and their revolution turned out differently from any before or since.
So before you drop the blade of the guillotine on the government of the founders to commence your reign of reality-show terror, ask yourself this: Do Bernie and Trump have the mojo of Madison and Adams, or are they just pandering to the madness of the masses?
If the latter, consider liberating yourself from the mass-madness. As Lennon and McCartney put it just two verses later:
“You tell me it’s the institution / Well, you know / You better free your mind instead.”
(Published Feb 21, 2016 in the Aspen Times at http://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/20705063-113/beaton-you-say-you-want-a-revolution)