By James Johnson
Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language defines the word “revolution” this way: “In physics, the circular motion of a body on its axis; a course or motion which brings every point of the body back to the place at which it began to move.”
A political revolution is similar. It is a whirling return to first principles, a spinning realignment with original purposes, a sweeping movement that sets things in proper order.
Revolutions are uncommon. Most people live without ever experiencing one. And those who do usually do not recognize it until it is all but over.
But they do happen. They occur at times of great economic uncertainty and oppressive government rule, a season when a nation’s citizens are not only dissatisfied with their present leadership, but downright disgusted with it.
After years of having their concerns ignored, their fears dismissed, their petitions denied, and their warnings scoffed at, they take matters into their own hands.
And the revolution begins. Angst turns to anger. Anger is converted to will. Will gives birth to movement. And movement spawns revolution.
The United States is now in such an era, a “Fourth Turning” as Yale scholars William Strauss and Neil Howe put it — an extraordinary movement in the midst of a cultural unravelling that says, “the civilization must survive!”
We are there. And as this movement becomes more focused, it will identify three groups of persons within the political struggle: the Evil, the Weak, and the Good.
The Evil are obvious. They are the ones in power, the ones who currently lead, the ones who hold the majority in Washington and in many Statehouses.
The Weak are less obvious. They are not evil, they are just in the way. During less turbulent times, they are considered nice guys. But during revolution, the zeitgeist does not want nice, it wants bold, so they are cast aside.
Men who are apt at statecraft during peacetime are often found unfit for command in war. The times demand clarion calls and loud trumpet blasts — Reveille, not Retreat — and certainly not Taps.
The third group are the Good. These are those with unwavering conviction, resolute purpose, and deep resolve. But they make the handlers, the hacks, the donors, and the dons nervous. So they are kept at distance.
In fact, they are usually found in deserts or on hillsides or out of the way places. For they are too ideological and impassioned for the go-along and get-along that dominate the process.
But their day usually comes. After being forged in the furnace of affliction they emerge… perhaps as a Joseph, a Moses, a David, or a Daniel… perhaps as a Cromwell, a Washington, a Churchill, or a Reagan.
As the Fourth Turning happens, and the winds of political change blow harder, watch for the cast to be identified. The Evil, the Weak, and the Good will be identified by the foot soldiers of the movement. It may not be pretty or diplomatic, but such are the times in which we live.
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