Will we ever see a reform movement?

Bill Miles

Almost three score years ago in a Public Opinion Class at our state’s flagship university I learned a theory about power which I am convinced is as relevant today as it was then or for that matter as far back as the recorded conflicts recorded in the Bible. Paraphrasing what academics exposed me to is a change in power comes only by the person (or party) gaining it using the same tactics or more vile ones than the person who possessed it before the change. In other words if a usurper wanted the throne which had been conquered by killing a hundred men, then the new power seeker might resort to killing a thousand. Of course in a democracy we like to think the transfer of power is done peaceably. A Politian only has to ‘hoodwink’ a few million people and then the successor manipulates a hundred of if strategically located maybe about 80,000. The book author had one exception to his ‘power transferring’ theory. “Every once in a great while a reform movement comes along.” Maybe that’s what a lot of voters thought was happening in 2016. On close examination I contend that the ‘swamp’ was not drained but only muddied more. Influence brokers know how to swim in the foulest of puddles. I came of voting age when a ‘revolution’ did occur. I didn’t identify it as such at the time. My first presidential vote was cast for John F. Kennedy. It was nullified by Ross Barnett’s silly interpretation of states’ right via ‘unpledged electors’. ‘Rock ‘n Roll’ invaded the social havens and Vietnam had not emerged. Birth control became acceptable even if some contended that it was good for their ‘arthritis’. Playboy Magazine was created and before one knew it ‘hippie lands’ developed. LBJ wanted to make everybody happy capitalizing on FDR’s “Happy Days are here again” theme. Vietnam lurked under the covers because our military leaders were spooked by the Soviet Bear and we played the ‘Cold War’ for decades. As a newspaper reporter, I remember doing a story about a family who built their own survival inner sanctum in their new home. It could have been compared to the nutty science professor of the movie “Blast from the Past”. When the populace tired of funding ‘Great Society’ programs and paying for up to then America’s most expensive and longest war, LBJ went back to the ranch. We got ‘Tricky Dick’ Nixon and eventually Watergate. Gerald Ford by all reports was a good man but probably out of his league. The peanut farmer out of Georgia, Jimmy Carter, was a better Sunday School teacher than he was a president, even though he possessed a nuclear physicist’s pedigree via the U. S. Naval Academy. When the savior of up until ‘Tea Party days’ of the republican party, Ronald Reagan, was elected our economy blew up then down and then around but we thought times were good. My friend, Jamie Whitten, described Ron as a terrify actor who could read a script. He just dozed off sometimes when congressional leaders met with him at the White House. The first Bush was destined for leadership by his New England heritage even if he had to move to Texas to hone it a bit. “Slick Willie” Clinton came from Hope with hope. Times were ‘a changing’ and his legacy benefitted from it as well as suffered. “W” barely made the final cut with the help of a partisan supreme court and a loyal governor brother in Florida. He gave us apparent endless conflicts because his advisors concocted enough reasons for the public to buy into it. He had to endure our nation’s worst foreign nation inspired attack on our soil, “9-11”. Deregulation, greed and ‘dumb’ money lending for near worthless or non-existent properties left us hinging on another depression historians already call “The Great Recession”. Commentators heralded Barack Obama’s election as a ‘new day’ in democracy. They pointed out how technology coalesced to identify demographics and weld them into a viable political force. America’s first African American President was hamstrung for his maiden term trying to keep us from losing what we had. Then his second was impeded by the opposition party. Now we have a president who without a doubt utilized a campaign that fine-tuned various grievances into ballot action as an electoral majority said, “He’s one of us.” “That’s me he’s siding with,” they surmise(d). We’ve not seen the reform movement my Public Opinion class opined about many years ago. Most of us long for it in our future which we must admit face a pending sunset. Therefore, we’re more likely to embrace the same tactics or even greater than what were used to displace those who now hold power. Will we realize as Pogo that “we have met the enemy and it is us?”

If you would like to contact Bill Miles you can email him at bill.t.miles@gmail.com

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