Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya have recently overthrown their corrupt politicians. Yemen is in the process, and Syria is up for grabs.
Tunisia's government went peacefully; Egypt's too was mostly peaceful (on the part of the protestors). Other Governments' reactions remind me of the U.S. National Guard's response to riots in Chicago or demonstrations at Kent State University. It is unsettling to remember what most young newscasters have forgotten: armoured cars with "twin-50's" blowing bricks off the top of a Chicago building on Roosevelt Road, smoke rising from the city in sight of Republican suburbs; four innocent students killed by errant M-15s.
Today's American revolutions are far less dramatic, but the Politicians should take heed.
The Tea Parties have been much excoriated by The President, the Democrats, and the Media. There are many opinions amongst the participants, but the one single thing that EVERYBODY agrees upon is that the Federal Government (that means Congress) should STOP SPENDING [more than Federal income]. Their sentiments are reflected in the election of many Representatives and a few Senators. Numbers vary, but at least forty Tea Party Republicans have entered Congress and are representing The People, much to the annoyance of Democrats and many entrenched Republicans.
The Occupy movement has been more difficult for politicians and parties to deal with. It was easy for the Democrats to respond to (and be against) the Tea Parties, but the 99% "occupiers" present a difficult question: "do we identify with dirty people who are against our contributors, or identify with their objections to the bail-outs we sponsored?" Republicans have a similar problem: "do we continue to identify with Wall Street, or condemn it?"
The concensus that arises from the two most talked-about ground-roots political movements in the past few years is that Congress needs to rein in spending, and benefits/exemptions (and salaries [unlikely] or bonuses [exorbitant]) for the benefit of bankers, brokers, and hedge-fund managers should be reduced or eliminated.
Both Tea Partiers and Occupiers make some good points and also make many that can be mocked, but the consensus views need to be addressed. They are both a vocal part of the Electorate.
Politicians have forever promised to "reduce taxes" and "bring more money to my constituency." (increase spending). The individual citizen equivalent of that meme is to come home to a family and say "honey, I told the boss to cut my salary, but we're going shopping tomorrow!"
It is no wonder that Congress enjoys more than 80% condemnation by The Publick. Parties may rest assured that The Voters oft continue to vote incumbents in (because they expect little of our elected representatives), but the Princes and Princess of Congress need to understand that popular protests (be they Left or Right) are gaining awareness. The message is: cut spending and remove all of the benefits you have been giving to your prime contributors. The "best Congress that money can buy" is not necessarily the "best Congress that America's People will elect!"
I don't care much for divisive social issues. I have my own views on abortion, race, religion, and relationships. I'm willing to argue them with everybody but I don't expect to impose my opinions on anybody. I've had to confront situations and conflicts involving all of the above. One other that the politicians don't often touch: I am FOR the legalization of drugs ... not because I support "stoners," but because I believe that every citizen has the right to kill him- or her- self by doing something really stupid and I hate to waste $billions of dollars of public money enforcing laws that are unenforceable when drugs could be sold cheaply (reducing profit motives) and taxed (increasing revenues). NOTE: I am sad that a great-great aunt died of an "opium overdose" in 1898, when drugs were legal, but we didn't have 5,000 DEA agents and a $2 billion budget for them back then. During the same term that President Nixon established the DEA with ~1,500 agents and a $75 million budget, he commissioned a report that concluded that Marijuana should be legalized and taxed.