The Coming Fury of an Angry America
A tiny part of a tiny part of the population of the earth will set the terms for the future of all humans. That sliver of humanity is the broken, spent out, and increasingly disillusioned American middle class, burdened with the task of spending all America out of catastrophe. When they break under the weight of desperate impossibility, how will the heartlands' good citizens react, and what will they do?
According to the World Bank, there are 6,692,030,277 human beings on the earth. 308,108,741 of them live in the United States, about 4.6% of the total. Of these fortunate Americans, about 231,000,000 are of voting age. In general elections in history's greatest democracy, about half those eligible to vote actually do...115 million people. History's greatest democracy has only two options every election, a choice between two almost similar positions, and the winning option typically enjoys the support of only half of those who choose, approximately 60 million individuals.
For a scant 90 years, America has been the place with the wealthiest, most powerful group of humans in all 20,000 years of recorded civilization. Decisions made by Americans can and do affect the lives of every other human on the planet, often for both present and future, good and bad. By brute force of American economics alone, a single, small 0.9% of the 6.6 billion people who call earth home set the agenda for each and every one of all the rest of us. Not even by force of arms has there ever been a time in glorious history when so few people dominated so many in so complete a way.
Centuries from now, historians will want to know who these few people were, if only to understand how they lived and thought, and better know the cause of global events that shaped the world they live in. As we in our time grapple to understand who the powers were that made a Roman a Roman, future thinkers will want to dissect the condition of the less than one per cent of all humanity who call themselves American, and who alone make America, America... and the earth, American as well.
It cost 1 billion dollars and four years to have .9% of the earth elect the President of the United States in 2008. It took a similar amount of time and money to be the guy that lost. Hundreds of millions more are expended to elect the 435 people who make up the United States Congress. No statistical analysis is required to understand that these are among the wealthiest and most privileged humans in all of history. A tiny fraction of a tiny fraction of a tiny fraction of the population of the planet. This, we are led to believe, is democracy, and so this small sliver is at least nominally responsible to those few who elected them and nobody else.
Like all great empires, America has a well-defined class structure. As a fedora on a table, at one brim is the thin cruel line of poverty and disenfranchisement, at the other brim another thin line of luxury and excess, and a middle where the head goes which has historically been the big, fat, American middle class. The middle class sets the agenda by dearth of weight, the luxury class promoting the agenda where and when it suits them. The lower class don't matter at all.
The great American middle class, then, at least nominally controls the fate of the planet. They do so by electing wealthy folks who pander to their interests, those wealthy folks whose interpretations of the middle class become policy. Future folks will want to understand how representative those interpretations were and will want to see if changes in the middle class over time were responsible for changes in American policy towards the world.
If anything defines the great American middle class, it is the concept of the American Dream. The basic building block of the American Dream is the family - mom, dad, 2.4 kids and a dog. The "dream" part is the very American right to economic freedom, freedom to accumulate stuff. A box on a postage stamp in a sea of urban sprawl called home, a couple of cars, a good education for the kids, and unrestricted ability to consume as much surplus crap as possible. Americans define success completely in economic terms and then attach the flag, religion, and everything else to it. Without this absolute right to consume hordes of junk, there is no American Dream, and no middle class. There is left only a lower class, (whatever that is), and a powerful capitalist class existing as it always has throughout time, changing flags and philosophy depending on how the winds blow. Caesar, Czar, King, or CEO of Goldman Sachs.