We live in a time of significant change. Living out of balance economically and politically for the past 40 or 45 years with a growing gap between family wealth of rich and poor, and with changes occurring because of people around the world wanting to increase the living standards of working people, and because we in the US lose purchasing power each year, the people demand change.
How do we bring about the kinds of change we want? In this kind of environment, it would be very easy for a fascist to step in and gain the hearts and minds of people just as Hitler did after WW I. Germany was left in such a devastated state and huge debts against their government as their cost of starting the war, the people were ready for anyone who promised them a way out.
Howard Zinn talked about change, its risks and opportunities.
"Significant changes occur when social movements reach a critical point of power capable of moving cautious politicians beyond their tendency to keep things as they are — or when these movements, by direct action, bypass the political system and bring about change by acting directly on the obstacles to change.”
The Anti-slavery movement pushed President Lincoln and Congress toward the 13th, 14, and 15 Amendments to the constitution.
The Labor movement become militant, and called strikes directly against employers and pushed the government into the New Deal reforms: minimum wage, Social Security, subsidized housing, etc.
As Duane S. Vogel wrote, other movements at the grassroots level leveraged their political power to bring about changes, i.e. the suffrage movement, Trust breakers, the populist movement and the civil rights movement.
“We live in an oligarchic police state, but so did the people who stood up at the time. They had their heads bashed in, but they eventually won.”
When does real change take place in the USA? Zinn stated that in regards to the means of production and the distribution of power to the working class, power to command could not be voted away. When the power of the wealthy has dominion over a people, the people have the right and responsibility to command their sovereignty.
Change does not come through voting, it comes through people at the grassroots level taking action to force the government to change or end the empire. FDR was forced to put into place the New Deal because of the demands of the people. He didn’t go into office planning to overturn the oligarchs. The Robber Barons had too much power and the only way to get them out was for the people to force the president into action.