Whether a flaw or a design of our financial democracy, it has difficulty breathing under the weight of powerful special interests. The undue influence of our lobbying community may become inconsequential for it seems that we are entering the age of the social media democracy. Societal shifts in Europe, Asia and the Middle East are crying out to political structures throughout the world that they will resist submission to pre-social media norms. We have witnessed masses overthrow governments in Tunisia and Egypt, throngs defend their dwindling entitlements in Europe, and millions vote down political movements in the United States as the world grasps social media to close the gap between their knowlege of the world and their inability to participate in it.
An entire generation is comfortably connected like you and I here, traveling together down a social trajectory, driven by their access to knowledge and their lack of freedom to monetize it. Those with the greatest information-wealth disparities, countries like Egypt, are further down the path toward collective action but all countries, including America, are reacting to this new social age.
Egypt added dimension to a global phenomenon that Obama adroitly tapped in his rise to power, and that emboldens the the American Tea Party beyond a gross misreading of the American politically elite. Obama’s electorate and the Tea Party ground swell are just two previous faces joining Egypt’s along the same social media democracy trajectory.
With Obama and the Tea Party as its benefactors, different faces of the American middle quickly reversed election courses in 2008 and 2010 as they defended their dwindling turf from the edges. First stunned Republicans and now dumbfounded Democrats are both recoiling from the speed at which America is marching to its own Tahrir Square.
Every society has its wealth generating workhorses and benefactors. During Mubarak’s 30 years of emergency rule, America’s overwhelming workforce was its baby boom generation. American wealthy and MNCs accumulated wealth from their purchases and investments. State and local governments swelled in the wake of their taxes. The Fed printed money to cover their trade deficits. Generations immediately following the baby boomers bowed to their immovable force and waited for their retirements to advance to positions of power.
But Gen Yers, who adapted first to this new social media, gathered in cyberspace to assess the effect of baby boomers on their fate. This generation, same age as the Egyptians who would rise up three years later, saw the unreachable financial landscape they would inherit and the dysfunctional institutions through which they would support the baby boomers’ retirement years. Gen Yers rose up and tweeted for change.
Their tweet revolution did not stop the inevitable collapse. As more baby boomers joined the ranks of the retired, the bubble engine was taken out of the economy, leaving in its wake collapsed institutions and stunned governments unwilling to downsize. As America caught the severe cold of the Great Recession, much of the world including Egypt caught an economic flu, exacerbating Egypt’s hopelessness, 50% who are under 24 years of age.
As the recession pressed on, our Tea Party, mostly middle class Americans, watched in dismay as our federal government continued its path toward universal healthcare while more houses were lost than at any time since the Great Depression, and the ranks of the unemployed escalated. In two short years, their movement turned down the power of the ruling party. Less than a half year later, the social media revolution of Egypt changed control of its ruling class.
With smart phones and Facebook accelerating through their business cycles, these two examples have proven to be low cost penetrants through the defenses of both America’s financial democracy and Egypt’s dictatorship. Social media tipped the power of pivotal changes in favor of grass roots, disorganized citizenry. Knowing its power to transform civilizations, financial houses will attempt to harness and manipulate its control of the electorate (It has been much easier to financially manage 535 in Congress).
If they are unsuccessful at coaxing the horse back into the barn, the cooling force of the Senate in American politics may not be able to compete with the speed of wireless media. The result could be an overheating of our electorate to tip America in the wrong direction of history. Our youth are more educated perhaps than the Egyptian youth yearning for their freedoms. May God help the Egyptians’ newfound instrument of change.
Where will social media take our Gen Yers? Will they align with politicians that say we can continue to ignore the debt and that they too can claim their piece of the borrowed pie, or will they educate themselves and collectively throw their support to a purveyor of healthy prescriptions for our time?