Could Americans' Discontent Turn Violent?

At some point, protests against mortgage bailouts turn into bricks tossed through the windows of bailed out homes, or baseball bats taken to car dealerships, or Molotov cocktails thrown at bank branches and government offices. When Americans lose hope, instead of taking handouts, they bite those whose hands are out, especially if those hands are holding guns. Worse is that Americans seem less inclined than ever to channel their rising anger into a current political alternative. The last two elections were a denunciation of what the Republican Party had become: a party to Washington's leaderless excess. But if Barack Obama's Democrats are similarly denounced by the electorate, I wouldn't automatically conclude that the pendulum will swing back to the GOP.  Instead, I would expect many Americans to look outside the existing political system for real change.

Never in my lifetime have I seen the nation as ripe for a third-party takeover as it is now. But if President Obama and the Democratic Congress further propel the economy down a rat hole, the party that emerges might not be the kind we want. There would be just enough truth in the charge for a demagogue to portray the shambles as the fault of those who took sub-prime mortgages they knowingly couldn't afford and the bankers who greedily lent them the money. In other words, minorities and Jews. This could become very ugly, very quickly.

We are only a few thousand points and runaway inflation away from a potential societal explosion, and how is the president responding? He is attacking the man he believes is America's greatest enemy:  Rush Limbaugh. It is a pathetic spectacle of leadership.  And foolish too, as nothing propels rebellion faster than an attempt to silence rebel leaders. Just ask Polish Communists or the apparatchiks of South African Apartheid.

While America has suffered through severe economic times before, it has never done so when its government is so disconnected from its people. Even during the downturn of the 1970s in the immediate aftermath of Watergate, it was largely the youth that rejected the establishment. Their parents were the nation's walls that kept rebellion outside the body politic. Today those youth are the parents, and they have yet to show sufficient stability to be the bulwark that keeps barbarians at bay.  Meanwhile, President Obama is building his walls with cases of dynamite, while he sits inside and plays with matches.