Wineke: Status Quo Losing Support

By Bill Wineke Special To Channel 3000

Something is going on in the world but I have to confess I am not sure what it is.

Every place you look, large numbers of citizens are withdrawing their sanction from the economic and political systems that have ruled our disparate societies for decades.

In Libya, for example, a rather bizarre group of loosely organized revolutionaries just topped a despot who had ruled with an iron hand for four decades. A similar revolution took place in Egypt and another in Tunisia. Efforts in Yemen and in Syria are ongoing.

A couple of years ago, the so-called Tea Party movement came from nowhere and seized effective control of the Republican Party, making it virtually impossible for the party’s elected leadership to get anything accomplished.

Today, the Occupy Wall Street movement, which demands economic justice but has not backed either politicians or specific legislation to achieve it, is being replicated not only around the United States but all over the world.

The only thing all these movements have in common is that the powers they are confronting seem absolutely baffled by them and completely perplexed about how to deal with them.

Libyan despot Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi is the latest example of that. The Libyan rebel movement seemed almost a joke when it began. Qaddafi had absolute control of the country. He had the planes and the tanks and the mortars. He was ruthless and deranged.

The rebels had not much but good cheer. They drove around in pick up trucks and seemingly fired most of their ammunition in the air. The iconic image of the Libyan rebels was of a guy trying to fire a rocket but aiming it backward.

To be sure, the United States and, then, its NATO allies neutralized Libyan air power and diminished its armored vehicle fleets. Nevertheless, every time you read a press report about a battle, the report noted that the rebels were being pulverized by superior government forces.

Then, a couple days later, you read that the rebels won.

The same story seems to be playing out in Syria. A strongman uses his well-trained army to kill protesting civilians, day after day, and, yet, the Syrian rebels keep marching.

In America, the Tea Party is, essentially, demanding that our system of government be shut down and replaced with a more utopian government that would spend less, tax less, and do less.

The Wall Street Occupiers are, essentially, demanding that our economic system be shut down and replaced with a more utopian system that does not funnel the nation’s wealth into the pockets of 1 percent of the population.

Neither of these positions is likely to succeed or to work if it did succeed. But that’s not the point. The point is that a very large number of Americans are no longer willing to sanction the status quo and in so doing they are initiating a national debate about what kind of country we want to be.

America doesn’t have a dictator so our local movements aren’t likely to involve literal revolution. But I don’t see our Democratic or Republican leaders resting easy these days. In Europe, things seem even more chaotic. Each day brings forth a new tentative agreement to rescue the European economies followed by announcements those agreements failed.

It is all very exciting and all very scary.