“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”
So said Thomas Jefferson, who helped to lead the rebellion against the British Empire and who observed firsthand the bloody French Revolution as America’s ambassador to France.
America’s current revolutionary moment combines elements of both.
Donald TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel plans to subpoena Trump lawyer who advised on how to overturn election Texans chairman apologizes for 'China virus' remark Biden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day MORE’s 2016 presidential win, a declaration of independence against the political establishment, was more akin to the original American Revolution. It didn’t seek to remake society from top to bottom. Instead it sought to give Americans more power over their own destinies, stop globalization and mass immigration from killing job opportunities, and restore the basic premise of the Founding Fathers of making America a better place for Americans. It was at heart a bourgeois revolution.
The reaction to Trump’s middle-class revolt has been fierce and unprecedented and it is looking more and more like the latter in its radical approach.
First came the antifa violent riots that greeted the president’s inauguration. Then came the Women’s March, which inspired the #MeToo movement. And then came the efforts by elements of the Obama administration and the neoconservative movement to remove the president, first by the failed Mueller investigation and then through the ridiculous impeachment effort.
Now, we enter protest summer, where radical leftists tear down every historical reminder of America’s glorious and not-so-glorious past. Historic figures from Christopher Columbus to Abraham Lincoln, from Ulysses S. Grant to Robert E. Lee, from Junipero Serra to Thomas Jefferson himself have been targeted.
The target of ire is seemingly Trump, always Trump. But the real goal has been revealed: to topple once and for all the foundational basis of the American experiment, Western civilization itself.
What makes this second revolution so interesting is that it is not necessarily contained within our nation’s borders. Statues are being targeted worldwide. French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronBiden speaks with Macron, Harris to meet with French president in Paris French ambassador to Australia blasts sub deal with US: 'Way you treat your allies does resonate' America's subplot and Europe caught in the undertow MORE finally had to put his foot down. “The Republic won’t erase any name from its history. It will forget none of its artworks, it won’t take down statues,” he said in a national address.
Protest summer is not just about tearing down a few statues. It is about tearing down Western society and remaking it into something new. It is not just about throwing bricks at the police and beating up MAGA-wearing Trump supporters. It is about creating an anti-patriarchal, anti-capitalist, anti-bourgeois and anti-religious society that eschews the traditional family structure, condemns law and order, and hopes that out of anarchy can arise a society more just, more equitable, and better for the environment.
Amid these twin revolutions sits Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day Business lobby calls for administration to 'pump the brakes' on vaccine mandate Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Afghanistan reckoning shows no signs of stopping MORE. It’s hard to figure out how this creature of the political establishment can ride the whirlwind created by forces largely out of his control. Because if there is one thing that the revolutionaries from both revolutions both despise, it is the political establishment.
We have seen revolutionary moments before in history. 1968 comes immediately to mind, as does 1918 and 1848. We are in an era of explosive change, where things for the vast majority of the globe are actually getting materially much, much better. Capitalism has actually done a remarkable job of eradicating poverty over the last two decades.
But revolutions don’t happen when things are bad. They happen when expectations don’t match results. And they happen when a small group of elites who have too much time on their hands and not enough to do decide they want to cause trouble and bring down the system.
In 1968, Richard Nixon was able to win the presidency by inspiring a majority of Americans to vote with him to counter the revolutionaries. He had the press against him, the intelligentsia against him and the protesters against him. But he had the shopkeepers, the construction workers and a class of voters that the elite largely hold in contempt, the vast middle-class.
Will Trump be able to repeat history? The more the radicals try to erase it, the better things look for the president to repeat it.
Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at www.thefeeherytheory.com. He served as spokesman to former Speaker Dennis HastertJohn (Dennis) Dennis HastertYellen should utilize the resources available before pushing new regulations Feehery: Trumpus Rex Bottom line MORE (R-Ill.), as communications director to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was majority whip and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).