New Yorkers did an interesting thing on Tuesday. Democrats gave a so-called "establishment" candidate a win and Republicans gave a so-called "anti-establishment" candidate a win. I don't usually associate contemporary Republicans with revolution, but that's kind of what's playing out across the country. Populists across party lines are rising up and throwing support behind Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders because they believe some sort of revolution needs to happen. Sanders uses that term outright to describe what he thinks America needs, and while Trump doesn't use "revolution" per se, it's actually what he's proposing.
At least I don't think he uses that word. I try to ignore what he says because his proposals make me shudder.
There's a big difference between talking about revolution and actually participating in and achieving one. I think that's the hard part. Revolution sounds glamorous to a lot of people, but most of us haven't actually experienced one firsthand. When I hear Bernie Sanders calling for revolution and see a lot of privileged, Liberal people raising their fists and screaming "Yeah!", I get uncomfortable. And skeptical about the follow through. Promises to break up big banks and of free college for everyone sound great, but are we hearing enough about the realities of those things? I'm not so sure.
Yes, I believe wholeheartedly that injustices need to be righted and that balance needs to be restored. However, I think that systemic, lasting change takes much longer than the amount of time it takes to make a promise from behind a podium. And it also takes more than one person to make that change happen. President Obama's two terms in office should have clarified that for us by now. People are starting to point to congressional elections at the state and federal levels as places where real change could begin to happen. That's where the revolution, if we really want it, could take hold.
But that's the real question for me. Are people really sure that they want what they're asking for? Are we really ready to make these collective sacrifices for the greater good? I'm not so sure about that either. We're a pretty self-centered society, and we do a lot of talking out of both sides of our collective mouth.
When I was a kid, there were these television commercials for Toyota automobiles. The jingle was, "You asked for it? You got it! Toyota!" And then the people in the commercials did a victory jump with their hands in the air next to a Toyota car or truck. I can't help but think that it would be beneficial for some of our more revolutionary-minded friends to think about the actual benefits and deficits of a real revolution. Maybe it would be useful to listen to the stories of people who came to this country to escape the aftermath of a revolution. These first-person accounts might help to clarify what a call for revolution actually means. Political rallying and posturing make revolution sound like a great idea. First person accounts make revolution real.
Once again in this election cycle, I think we should be listening more carefully, rather than raising our fists and yelling, "Yeah!"