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No one in the United States ever predicted that a Catholic with three wives would be battling a Mormon with one to oust a black man from the White House.  It ain’t Dr. King’s dream, but it’s a start, of sorts.

And the forward movement doesn’t stop there.  If the Republican primary has taught us anything, it is that the promise that anyone has a chance to be President could be coming true.  Gender, color and sanity are no longer obstacles, provided you have enough money.  Only the ability to promote consistent and informed policy will keep you out of the race.  There is still a glass ceiling for anyone with both acumen and compassion.  On the first floor.

For the rest of the country, it looks like things are evening out as well.  As a good friend pointed out shortly after the Patriot Act went into effect, America as a whole is learning what it’s like to be black.  Now, everyone is on the way to being equally subject to random arrest, police brutality and arbitrary sentencing.  In a way, equal rights have never been closer.  Not free at last, to update the song.

Is there an upside to this?  I think there might be.  For as long as memory and beyond, the moneyed interests of the United States have successfully divided real, hard-working citizens against each other along color, religious and cultural lines.  These members of the vast US majority may now be coming to realize what the 1% have known and feared all along: that they have much more in common with each other than with those running the show.

Of course, the rest of us should be worried, too.  The fact that the 1% are becoming more obvious means that they are also losing restraint.  

Only a shrinking, discredited ruling class rigs the vote wherever possible.   Only a worried regime coordinates mass crackdowns.  Only a scared elite pushes for warrantless arrest and detention policies.  Only a besieged, crony cabal requires a 24 hour propaganda machine to disguise distraction and deception as news.

Desperate people are dangerous people, which is why the robber barons are afraid of the 99%.  But the 1% are also desperate: desperate to hold on to what they have.  Progressives need to put at least as much effort and care into watching out for each other and planning for a backlash as they have into bringing injustices to light.

Every elected official, member of the media, or legal expert that can be recruited as an ally must be.  Without this, those who want social justice are dangerously exposed, >particularly as local law enforcement becomes increasingly militarized  (see joanneleon's post on this)  And every message from the 99% should be clear that the push for change is about the most basic of all American principles:  if you work hard, you’ll be rewarded.

We don’t want what’s yours, Jack; we just want what’s ours back. And when we get back the votes, the rights, and the livings that have been stolen by the 1%, we’ll have made real progress.

Originally posted to TheGrandWazoo on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 03:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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