Political Revolutions Throughout History

All changes in government come from revolutions. Whether they come by peasant uprisings, a coup de tat, or the modern phenomenon of the election, revolutions are inevitable. Look at every nation, every empire, every city, and revolutions will be commonplace to their history. Even in some of the greatest civilizations of all time, revolutions are present. Look at the constant power struggle in Rome between the senate and the emperor. Then, look to the United States of America where revolution is a distinct possibility every four years, and in 2008 there is a good chance another will be witnessed.
The United States is the prime example of why revolutions are not always bad. In the democratic republic that is the United States, we as citizens elect our politicians that stand on a party platform or run independently. Either way though, conflicting powers always occupy they government. In the United States current situation, the politics are dominated by Democrats and Republicans. Each time there is a switch in power between the two parties, a revolution has occurred. This is the modern phenomenon of elections. Previously in history, elections have never consistently worked as peaceful revolutions.

The Roman Republic was the first real democratic style of government the world had ever seen be successful. Technically, the Athenians were the first, but their form of government relied more on allotment than direct election. Allotment is the assignment by lottery to a government position. Only the most important officials in Athens were actually elected. In this way, the Roman Republic’s success was a major breakthrough in the evolution of government. Due to the laws of the republic, and the limitations placed on terms served by government officials, revolutions were technically occurring every year (“Athenian Daily Life”).

However, due to the insignificance of each revolution, it can be argued that the first revolution occurred during Julius Caesar’s Consulship and the emergence of the First Triumvirate. The Roman Republic was primarily governed by two consuls that shared power and held a veto over one another. Each consul would serve one year and had to wait ten more years if he wished to be reelected. Caesar destroyed the virtues of the Republic by disobeying this law and becoming Consul more than one year in a row. Along with his Triumvirate he shared power until he became even more ambitious. With the power of the army behind him, he fought a civil war in order to be named emperor (“Julius Caesar: Historical Background”).

This can be argued as good or bad revolution, depending on the view of the onlooker, as Julius Caesar was in fact a good ruler. He created more jobs for the people, was a benevolent man, and still sometimes honored the opinions of key senate members that had been relegated to mere powerless advisers. However, the problem arose further down the line of emperors, when less qualified people took office such as the infamous, Nero – the fifth and last of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty (the first five Roman Emperors) (“Julius Caesar: Historical Background”).

At this point in time another revolution occurred as Nero was overthrown. However, the fact that he was overthrown means nothing. Revolutions whether peaceful or violent are always inevitable. Many philosophers have given their individual explanations for why revolutions occur. The most relevant of which are John Locke’s ideas outlined in his “Declaration of the Rights of Man.” His ideas revolve around the individuals rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of property. If at any time the government is not sufficing to provide these three rights, then it is the people’s duty to overthrow the current regime.

This argument can be used to validate all revolutions that are not military coups. Look at the ever so famous American Revolution. It’s arguable that the “The Declaration of Independence” was partially plagiarized from John Locke’s work. It reads, “that they [people] are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” With the declaration in writing, the American people were inspired to oust Britain from the United States.

A new very radical, yet extremely moderate system of government was set up. One that involved checks and balances and a bicameral house system. The thought was in fact one of the most radical ideas ever, putting so much power in the uneducated man. However, all the checks and balances also served to limit that power with innovations such as the electoral system.

In this way a new style of government was created. It was a style where revolutions were frequent and peaceful. Only twelve years after the first president took office, a president of a different party was elected. James Madison took power from the Federalists and handed it to the Democratic Republicans. Over the course of Americas history countless revolutions have occurred.

However, they have not all been on a national level. Each year new mayors are elected and take office. New judges preside over national, state, and city courtrooms. That is the glory of the American political system. Never have revolutions been so prevelent in any country, without bloodshed. Only once since America’s victory that granted it its freedom, has it been torn apart in civil war. With that taken into account, look at the hundreds of revolutions that have taken place in that time.

That being said, another revolution is taking place. In the 2006 November elections, the Democrats won control of the Senate and House from the Republicans. America is now only half way from a full revolution, and another peaceful one at that. Americans are making sure the government knows that they are not willing to simply let a government rule them. A period of time is coming where Americans are concerned about their future and not content to let others control it. When wars occur, people are always more politically active, because of the consequences in a bad decision tend to be much worse. Worrying about a loved one oversees, is often the greatest motivation to vote – especially if it is for a cause you do not believe in.

The implications of the 2006 midterm elections point at only one thing. There are certain things over the past six years that have annoyed the American public to the point which they clamor for a new party to take office. But, even though the Democrats have taken control of congress, this does not mean they have taken power or even that they are now the collective majority. America is still split. Look at the last presidential election. The vote was almost split fifty-fifty and even today the Democratic majority in congress is barely a majority at all.

This division in American politics is becoming the driving force of American politics. America is a nation that currently stands torn between values. The Democrats won the midterm elections more because they called out the fallacies of the Republicans than offered a better solution. Now, the Republicans are reeling in wake of the latest failures in Iraq. The war was supposed to be won quickly with the Iraqis welcoming our troops into the capital. Yet, while there were a few cheers as our troops tore down the statues of Saddam Hussein, there was much protesting. As the years have wore on since Bush’s declaration of victory our influence over world affairs has continued to shrink. The “flip-flopping” stance of the Bush Administration’s use of the United Nations is causing the international appeal of the United States to drop even more. The United States ignored the United Nations requests to not invade Iraq, and then Bush calls for immediate United Nations sanctions on North Korea and Iran as soon as anything does not go as wished.

However, the current Democratic push for a speedy withdrawal cannot be seen in a better light than the current failures in Iraq. Withdrawing from Iraq is like ditching an unpaid cab. It would just be wrong to do. The United States entered Iraq, overthrew Saddam, and set in motion another revolution. The United States must stay and fix what it broke.

But, the revolution in Iraq is not the one that matters. It is the political mindset of America that will directly result in another more drastic revolution. Neither party is doing anything effective to further its cause of gaining hold of the white house and congress. American politics has changed greatly since the 2000 elections. As soon as Bush took office, Bush bashing began. Books were written about his “Bushisms” – really dumb or grammatically incorrect things that Bush has said. Democrats make fun of Bush endlessly for these mispronunciations and ridiculous statements.

In contrast, Republicans endlessly called Kerry a “flip-flopper” in the 2004 elections and targeted Clinton unrelentingly after his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Clinton’s issue got so bad that he was impeached although the process failed. Kerry possibly could have lost the narrow presidential race, because of the constant mud being slung at him from supporting troops being sent to Iraq. Another prominent Democrat targeted was Gray Davis, the governor of California. He was the target of a recall election just shortly after he had been reelected.

To continue the trend of revolutions, Schwarzenegger, a Republican took office as a result of a recall election and California has been seen in a very different light. Once the utterly dominant blue state, it is now seeing a shade of red. These political revolutions are inevitable, however, sometimes they come for better reasons than others. While, Gray Davis’s administration had definitely gotten into its fare share of trouble, it is another example of American political leaders being targeted rather than demanding political reforms.

The divide between the two parties is increasingly becoming bigger and bigger. Americans now only have two choices in political elections: Democrat or Republican. There is no third voice to be heard. The upcoming elections in 2008 will play major role in the future of American politics. It is clear that whoever obtains the Oval Office will be in the doghouse. And to add to the problems the successful party will face, more problems are emerging every day that complicate the bickering between parties even more. Republicans are using North Korea and Iran as examples of “rebel” countries allowed to do what they wish. North Korea apparently is the fault of both Bushes – according to Democrats – and Clinton – according to Republicans. Iran is the fault of everyone also, depending on how they issue is portrayed.

And herein lays the major problem. At the present moment there are no new solutions being offered to fix the failed policy of the past and present, and without new policies being offered there is no way success can be obtained. Both parties are being faced with the prospect of a nuclear North Korea and Iran, but neither party is offering a viable solution. Each party is content to denounce the opposite rather than to build a coalition within the government in order to create a feasible solution.

With the continued domination of the two major parties, the moderates are continually being isolated from the politics given only an ultra-conservative or ultra-liberal choice. To further the turmoil within the government there is no way that a moderate could run for an office such as the presidency with success, without the support of either of the two major parties, which will never happen. The parties will each only support its own candidate, the person who best supports the party’s platform.

With the increasing divide in partisan politics, all it will take is one electrifying speaker with unique and exceptional ideas to move America into a new age of politics. This speaker could be from any party, however, he will rise above the party. He will be a Hitler or Mussolini. He may not be fascist or Nazi, but he will be a speaker who inspires change in America. He will be a speaker that leads a revolution. It will not be a violent one, but it will change the world. The opening is prime and ready for this speaker to rise up and stimulate American politics to a new level.

Neither the speaker’s party, nor affiliation will matter. He will be a man with Abraham Lincoln’s charisma and Martin Luther King Junior’s revolutionary ideas. He will come, and everywhere he treads change will flow. Politics will be reformed, and ideas will again matter. People will be voting for a man who stands above America. Never with the two major political parties so split, has there ever been a time more ripe for a man to step up a deliver America from its time of crisis.

This deliverer can come in any society and always does, when that society is in need. Look throughout history at each revolutionary speaker. The list is endless. In just the Ano Domini era – AD (in the year of our lord) – hundreds of speakers have existed that raised their nations up upon their shoulders in each respective nation’s defining moment. They inspired change, and led revolutions each in their own way. Jesus, Martin Luther, and Mahatma Ghandi each led spiritual revivals that greatly impacted their time. Alexander the Great conquered almost the entire known world and more before his early death. Napoleon wrestled France away from its revolution almost succeeded in uniting all of Europe under France’s control. Hitler and Mussolini together almost accomplished the same feat. George Washington became the figurehead of the American Revolution and led America into its days of glory.

Those days continue now as violent revolutions are no longer needed in order to transfer power from political party to political party. Peaceful revolutions are the key to maintaining stability in governments and elections are the only real way in which countries can transfer power peacefully. America will continue to transfer power peacefully so long as elections stay fair and the laws about them are enforced. However, with the political divide that America is now experiencing, it may become necessary for Americans to support a new revolutionary speaker, if they wish their countries greatness to carry on. Without some new thinking, American politics will continue down the same path to nothingness, because nothing new is currently being introduced. It is clear that it is up to one man to revive American politics from the staleness that has consumed our country. America needs a new leader to step up to the plate, because “Revolutions are the locomotives of history.” (Qtd. In “Quote World”)

Works Cited

“Athenian Daily Life,” 17 November 2006

“Julius Caesar: Historical Background,” 17 November 2006

Khrushchev, Nikita. “Quote World,” 3 December 2006

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