What are the real reasons behind the Jan. 6 insurrection when angry mobs stormed the Capitol, the American bastion of U.S. democracy? They appeared to be middle-class protesters, discontented and disenfranchised from the American dream. They gave the appearance of being unhappy with life. Maybe because good-paying jobs went to China, leaving them only low-pay service jobs. Maybe it’s the high college tuition loans that are hard to repay with low wages, or the costly privatized medical services needed to relieve them of pain and agony. All are factors not conducive to supporting a family and owning an average-size home with a picket fence. The disenfranchised see America as disintegrating with more “homeless” living on the streets every year. They see women unable to feed their children. They are angry. Why is society so suppressed? If you want the present to be different from the past, you must study the past to form a solution.
In 1951, Russell Kirk, a wealthy English conservative, wrote a book called “The Conservative Mind” in which he professed that the middle class was growing faster in wealth than the top 1%. He maintained that if people made too much money, they would challenge the social order (the rich) and “collapse the government” (the rule of the rich). He said wage earners must be kept right at the edge of poverty, too consumed with surviving life to even revolt. (For the outcome of this policy read pretty much any Dickens novel.) If the middle class got too rich there would be dire consequences. Young people would cease to respect their elders, women would stop respecting (and depending on) their husbands, and minorities would begin making outrageous demands and set the country on fire. Dwight Eisenhower and other GOP leaders like Barry Goldwater thought this was ridiculous.
Then in 1961, the birth control pill was legalized, which kicked off the women’s liberation movement and the demand for equality in politics and the workplace. Bra burning became a thing, at least in pop culture lore. By 1967, young people on college campuses were in revolt against the Vietnam War. Draft card burning was also a thing. Police violence against Black people erupted, which started riots, and several cities were set on fire. These incidents caught the attention of conservatives and Republicans who had previously ignored Kirk’s book. Suddenly, Kirk seemed like a prophet.
The Republican solution to the “crises” was to take the middle class down a peg and end the protests and instability. This was the explicit goal of the Reagan Revolution. Present-day GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell now sees to it that nothing that aids society gets passed, but doing nothing increases discontent, which leads to crime, which in turn freaks out the white majority of voters. But wait, the GOP always wins elections by claiming to be “tough on crime.” It’s a perfect scam. Life in America stays painful, and the GOP can win elections by faking to combat crime.
Bullies and egocentrics then take advantage of desperate Americans by feeding them visions of grandeur that resonate in a crowd, but life improvements are hardly ever forthcoming. MAGA is an acronym that fills Americans with hope as bullies preach hate. Like heat is what fuels hurricanes, hate is the fuel that animates fascism and political violence.
To stop the rich aristocracy and bullies from ruling the lives of Americans, and to create a happy upward-spiraling society, the simple solution would be to stop voting for the conservative Republican ticket.
Former Santa Clarita resident
Wilmington, North Carolina