Maybe my age is showing. Maybe it is because the Tiananmen anniversary is near. But seeing videos of massive crowds in the streets, I don't think of 68 or 92, I think of the "people power" movements of the late 80s, first in the Philippines & then in 89 in China & Central Europe.
Each of those states were suffering from failed institutions & corrupt, abusive leaders in much the way we are now & while Tiananmen did not dislodge the Chinese Communist Party, it did produce major reflection & accelerated reform and elsewhere the transformations were greater.
I see masses of people in the street and largely peaceful demonstrations and crowds standing up against a state committed now to "dominating" them...and I actually feel a glimmer of optimism. What if that could be the story of this year?
What if the people sent a message that they are not going remind our leaders that in our system, the leaders work for them, they are the ultimate authority? What if Trump, whose inauguration triggered such protests was in the end, ushered out by them?
What if the message the people delivered was we have no patience for the status quo, for the corruption, for sell-out pols, for a government that only works for the few and has damned most of society to struggle, to insecurity, to the consequences of deepening inequality?
What if this moment could be prolonged, this movement could be expanded, if from now through November the streets were full of people not only expressing their views but underscoring their will to require that equity and responsiveness be restored to our system?
Maybe it's an idle fantasy. Certainly it is diminished by scenes of violence whatever the reasons for them. But yesterday when those crowds peacefully stood up to Trump and Barr's ugly authoritarianism, my disgust for the Administration was countered by my pride in the people.
And watching massive crowds just now in NYC and LA, peaceful crowds, growing crowds, I thought "this is how democracies are refreshed and reinvigorated." I know the system is lined up against them and against real change. But we who remember the past know it can work.
You can follow @djrothkopf.
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