Much has been said about the widely unexpected result of the 2016 Presidential Election., and its likely causes – extreme discontent with a bickering, unresponsive and unproductive Congress, flawed candidates, third-party meddling, a large under-represented group that felt that “line cutters” were getting preferred treatment – that together fomented a radical move for change. While it seems that political elections have degenerated into popularity contests, with true capabilities completely irrelevant, what happened in November is nothing less than a mini-revolution of the kind predicted by Karl Marx.
Author and activist Chris Hedges, quoting the anarchist Alexander Berkman, says that an “invisible revolution” now exists, like a pot that’s about to boil. And Hedges says that, meanwhile, “the facade of power, both physical and ideological, appears to remain intact, but has less and less credibility.
This uprising, however, had the wrong objectives, and with the wrong solution agent. The broad swath that supported an anti-establishment candidate felt that they were 21st-century revolutionaries in the romantic spirit of the nascent republic of 1776 or the rising South of the Civil War. But these would-be revolutionaries were at best naïve, and at worst—not to launch into diatribes—showed poor judgment of the cost-benefit. The polling booth is not the right place to exercise a bad—and hasty—wager.
Serbian political activist Srđa Popović has said that successful revolution can be peaceful, but requires time, careful planning, and the right people to lead it. Those lining up in support of a champion in the guise of George Washington or Jefferson Davis – even ignoring questions regarding character – have made a critical error: a revolution cannot succeed when it is done with no organized vision of accomplishing the true goal, which in this case is equitable employment and a concomitant fair distribution of wealth. The result of the election will, in all likelihood, redistribute wealth, but not in the way that voters had hoped.
Social critic and former ad exec Jerry Mander has written about the problems inherent with the current form of capitalism, which requires infinite expansion, and its impending failure, being unable to meet the challenges of climate change, peak oil, finite resources, and a rising global population. His analysis digs at the root of the real problems that need serious – and apolitical – attention.
The mainstream political parties are too polarized for one to expect a successful migration to the moderate center that has historically achieved legislative progress. True change – be it from revolution or evolution – requires an independent movement (or candidate) that can overcome the history of both party’s failings to represent the self-actualization goals of the populace. Political change requires compromise —or revolt.
Technology has both created and displaced – if not rendered obsolete – many skill sets, and federal policy must be established in such a way that it meets employment needs, while adequately balancing the negative bi-products of those technologies and policies. Mander proposes solutions that can achieve sustainable economic models, based on due consideration of the limits of our planet, emphasis on localization (as opposed to globalization), improved corporate structures, and a new system that incorporates elements of both capitalism and socialism. People like Bernie Sanders have proposed similar, pragmatic, sensibilities.
The need for political change, in some form, is clear, and it has already begun. The manner in which we approach it will determine whether we elevate ourselves as a society, or sink into the cycle of tumultuous trial-and-error rule that continues to pervade the imperious republics of the world.
Aldo Cugnini is a technology consultant who advises Fortune 500 companies in areas including federal policy, and has served on the boards of non-profit organizations.