San Diego Review January 1, 1996
In Clinton vs. Tocqueville…
Michael Barone likens today with Tocqueville’s 1830 preindustrial America. “Today’s America, like Tocqueville’s, is decentralized, individualistic, religious, property loving… it is egalitarian in that people show little deference to established authorities in business, medicine, religion, the media or politics… (its) natural inclination … is to dismantle big government, to decentralize power, to hold individuals rather than society responsible for their actions.”
Barone’s analysis leads to Article I of the Constitution which he stresses is about Congress — not the President — and indicates that this apparent restoration of constitutional order may benefit a perceived ‘indecisive’ Clinton. The disappearance of economic emergencies and hot or cold wars has reduced the need for the ‘commanding’ Presidency. Barone concludes, however: “If Gingrich and his allies stand firm, the character of American society today and the order of the Constitution will give the president little choice but to accept most of their decisions.”
Whooa, wait a sec.. Might there be a deeper, different brand of individualism bubbling across America’s plains than indicated by these national brands?
Consider economics: Through our industrial era, the rich grew richer off their investments while the blue collars worked enough to raise their own Buick boats. Today owners’ equity grows even bigger as blue collar wages shrink — so:
thousands of mutual funds and discount brokers opened to give the fading blues a chance to own too
ESOPs (employee stock ownership plans) soared to own United birds flying our friendly skies
franchising roared through the 70’s and 80’s, as fading blues and whites bet their savings on their ability to run a business
network marketing booms in the 90’s, as stay-pressed collars continue investing time and money in pushing today’s more easily delivered products
home offices and garage workshops spread through neighborhoods, as do lap tops and tools of independent trade, and sometimes Uncles Sam can’t even count the exchange
.http and .www become code names for a contemporary band of freedom fighters who use knowledge as a tool of economic and political self defense and we seem more ready to discontinue lending to the poor.
Consider politics: Political parties had a field day through the 60’s spending or bombing money and making 60 second pol art. Too slowly, these art merchants noticed rising public disenchantment. Today MIPS reports that the percentage of thinking people disliking parties, campaigns and the governing process is the highest in history. MIPS (My Intuitive Polling Survey) draws its data from recent surges, such as:
Continuing growth of party times: Move over Libertarians here come the Reform dancers choreographed by Ross the Boss; the Green Party with the Consumers Top Cop, Ralph Nader, holding Presidential dance tickets; Bradley, Wickert, Tsongas, Penny, Love and gang hanging out around Concord deciding whether to warn Americans that a revolution is coming; and Jesse’s Rainbow again squinting into the sunshine of November 96, days after torrents of tears over Colin’s demur finally cleared.
Resurgence of campaign reform initiative legislation and continued public support for term limits.
Growing support and understanding of how to establish a national initiative process.
Many of those working to establish a national initiative have learned from 20+ years of initiative work /study. They now need to raise sufficient funds to be ready to offset the negative campaign that any challenge to the status quo faces. They need not match the opponents campaign war chest. They must, however, run a smart campaign with some money.
If not, they might still be noted by Tocqueville’s 1990s standard bearer — the Tofflers?– as a signpost on America’s plains of individuality, diversity and richness. They will not, however, have added enough skill and power to weld an American Constitutional tool for blue and white collar use.