A few years ago, it wasn’t hard to find Americans who thought a revolution was coming. At the depths of the recession, in hard-hit places like the North Carolina tobacco country or the exurbs of Tampa Bay, I met plenty of people who believed we were one power blackout or gas shortage away from civil unrest, political violence, even martial law. The feeling didn’t conform to strictly partisan lines, and the objects of wrath included bêtes noires of both the left and the right: banks, oil companies, federal and state governments, news media. At Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, a Tea Party couple visiting from rural Virginia was surprised to find a patch of common ground with Occupiers — at least until the discussion turned to actual policies. The anger was populist, which is ideologically capacious. The enemy was bigness, feathering its own nest and conspiring against the little guy.
The revolution didn’t come — it never does in America, not since the first one, no matter how bad things get.