If you were to
publicly declare your discontent with the U.S. government and your subsequent
desire to abolish that government, the land of the free would likely reward you
with an orange jumpsuit and a one-way ticket for an all-inclusive vacation at
Now imagine if you
instead chose to stand in front of a crowded room and utter something along
these lines: "I think all men-and women-are created equal and are endowed
with certain undeniable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness. To secure these rights, governments are created and derive their
powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government tries
to destroy or take away these undeniable rights, it is the right of the people
to alter or abolish that government and replace it with a new one."
Bingo: you're a
high school history teacher. Okay class; turn to page 257. Today we'll be
talking about Patrick Henry (and don't tell me "give me liberty or give me
death" sounds an awful lot like what an insurgent might say).
can pronounce: "Every generation needs a new revolution." But that
doesn't mean I can engage in revolution. Honest Abe once declared: "Any
people anywhere being inclined and having the power have the right to rise up
and shake off the existing government, and force a new one that suits them
better." Hey, I'd love a government that suits me and most humans-better,
but making plans to "shake off the existing government and force a new
one" would just about guarantee you a place on that secret no-fly list.
Let's face it,
revolution just ain't what it used to be. Mao Tse-Tung warned: "A
revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture,
or doing embroidery." Today, revolution is a Chevy commercial or a Beatles
song. Che Guevara believed "the true revolutionary is guided by great
feelings of love." By 1994, Newt Gingrich and his merry band of Republicans
were using "revolution" to describe a minor reshuffling of ruling
class allegiances. "The most heroic word in all languages is
revolution," stated Eugene Debs, but if he were around today and typed
"revolution" into Google, he'd find the top response was for a
As long as you're
not talking about the U.S. government, you can have as many revolutions as you
please. You can have 33 per minute, for all Dick Cheney cares. Fitness, music,
film, art, and countless ways to make money -- the mutinous mood is alive and
well. This time around, however, the revolution was indeed televised and is now
enjoying a long, successful run in syndication.
Can the huddled
befuddled masses snap out of their self-induced trance to recapture the
subversive spirit of '76?
I'll give the last
word to Abraham Lincoln: "This country, with its institutions, belongs to
the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing
government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or
their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it."
Remember: Abe said
it, not me.
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.