Anyone who doubts the downside of hubris should think of the losing campaign of Hillary Clinton. Like cholesterol in arteries, extreme arrogance can block seeing political realities.
And Barack Obama is exhibiting horrendous hubris by, for example, flip-flopping on his pledge to use federal campaign financing for the general election and for displaying an Obama seal in public events that closely resembles the official presidential seal. Welcome to the audacity of arrogance.
But there is a lot more to this Age of Hubris.
At least 20 percent of Americans are on top of the economic ladder. Some 60 million people are not suffering because of high gasoline prices, are driving around in expensive $40,000+ cars, are living in sumptuous McMansions and vacation homes, have good health insurance, and are shopping in expensive stores and eating in luxurious restaurants that continue to do gangbuster business. They keep buying the most expensive products ever made available in human history. This elitist Upper Class benefits from the two-party plutocracy that through government policies takes care of them because the wealthy take of politicians. It is very likely that the vast majority of Obama’s small donors are part of this Upper Class.
About 3 million of these people comprise the super-rich that fly around the globe in private jets and are driven around in limousines, live in enormous well guarded homes costing tens of millions of dollars, and vacation on their yachts and private islands. They are members of the ruling plutocracy.
Meanwhile, the remaining 240 million Americans are suffering in a multitude of ways: millions lack health insurance and care, millions lack adequate food and shelter, millions more face economic insecurity and pain as they cope with extremely expensive gas and mounting food prices even as they increasingly recognize that enjoyable retirement is a disappearing dream and possible job loss puts them one step away from personal bankruptcy. With rising economic inequality, the vast majority of Americans are hurting, which explains why 84 percent say the country is on the wrong track.
So here is the logical question: Are all the rich and affluent Americans feeling nervous and increasingly afraid that their physical security may be increasingly at risk? Are they beginning to think about millions of suffering and furious Americans rising up in violent revolution against the status quo political and economic system? Are they thinking about the millions of angry Americans who own guns? Are they remembering that in human history economic slaves have risen up to openly and brutally overturn repressive regimes? Do they contemplate a populist revolt threatening their wealth? Do they ever think about another American Revolution?
Or are the rich and powerful thinking that all these millions of disenchanted Americans will continue to placate themselves by venting their anger on websites, participating in national and grassroots groups protesting societal ills, writing letters to newspapers and posting signs in their yards, and voting for politicians that promise CHANGE? Are they thinking that the masses of suffering Americans are just too distracted by all their hard work and pain, just too dumb, or just too pessimistic about fighting the SYSTEM to actually take up arms in pursuit of happiness? Are they confident that the police and military that THEIR government controls can and will protect them from violent revolutionaries? Or, are they confident that the two-party system will continue to prevent open rebellion with shallow promises of change? Do they believe that there are no limits to how the masses can be manipulated and brainwashed? Hubris can bite you.
In the past I wrote that despite revolting conditions, Americans seemed completely unready to revolt. But things have steadily gotten worse. Not that long ago few of us foresaw millions of Americans losing their homes because of the shenanigans of the financial sector, millions of people facing daily pain because of historically high gasoline prices, and millions more struggling with rising food prices. Lifestyles and quality of life are now tangibly impacted.
Support for change-politicians like Ron Paul, John Edwards and Barack Obama provide evidence of the populist pot boiling over. The current presidential race and upcoming general election are providing a peaceful venting of pent up anger and disillusionment with unshared national prosperity, at least for those that still believe voting matters. All elections offer is broken promises. This electoral bait and switch is what the two-party plutocracy uses to maintain status quo stability.
The post-election period will repeat history as the two-party plutocracy in service of the Upper Class uses its muscle to prevent true and meaningful systemic changes to alleviate the woes of most Americans. Even with Barack Obama as president.
What then? Will there be enough energy left among the bitter, anxious and angry to spark a revolution? Will people in this most violent and most gun-crazy nation on Earth finally realize that voting no longer works?
Will the horrendous hubris of the Upper Class and the lying politicians that serve them be proven correct, because Americans remain unready to revolt despite revolting conditions? Will the suffering masses remain compliant and subservient, complaining and moaning, depressed and disillusioned, but not openly revolting?
You will decide.
Will you do more than vote, talk, read and write in the usual ways? Will the Upper Class fear activists, populists and progressives? Will dissidents on the left and right join together to fight a common enemy? Or with horrendous hubris will elites continue to feed their greed through economic tyranny?
Let’s start the revolution by not voting for either the Democratic or Republican presidential candidate, but instead voting for an independent or third party candidate. I recommend Ralph Nader, whose integrity and populist policy positions truly support we the people.
Joel S. Hirschhorn is the author of Delusional Democracy – Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government (www.delusionaldemocracy.com). His current political writings have been greatly influenced by working as a senior staffer for the U.S. Congress and for the National Governors Association. He advocates a Second American Revolution, beginning with an Article V Convention to propose constitutional amendments.