theburningplatform.com / James Quinn / April 5, 2012
“Soon after the catalyst, a national election will produce a sweeping political realignment, as one faction or coalition capitalizes on a new public demand for decisive action. Republicans, Democrats, or perhaps a new party will decisively win the long partisan tug of war. This new regime will enthrone itself for the duration of the Crisis. Regardless of its ideology, that new leadership will assert public authority and demand private sacrifice. Regardless of its ideology, that new leadership will assert public authority and demand private sacrifice. Where leaders had once been inclined to alleviate societal pressures, they will now aggravate them to command the nation’s attention. The regeneracy will be solidly under way.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning
The 2008 election happened in the midst of the catalyst events. A sweeping political realignment did not occur. In fact, the 2010 mid-term elections produced a result which has essentially gridlocked the political process in Washington D.C. The reunification and reenergizing of society has yet to occur. Neil Howe in his recent article pondered the question of regeneracy:
“We may like to imagine that there is a definable day and hour when America, faced by growing danger and adversity, explicitly decides to patch over its differences, band together, and build something new. But maybe what really happens is that everyone feels so numb that they let somebody in charge just go ahead and do whatever he’s got to do. I’m thinking of how America felt during the bleak years of FDR’s first term, or during Lincoln’s assumption of vast war powers after his repeated initial defeats on the battlefield.
The regeneracy cannot always be identified with a single news event. But it does have to mark the beginning of a growth in centralized authority and decisive leadership at a time of great peril and urgency. Typically, the catalyst itself doesn’t lead directly to a regeneracy. There has to be a second or third blow, something that seems a lot more perilous than just the election of third-party candidate (Civil War catalyst) or a very bad month in the stock market (Great Power catalyst). We are still due for such a moment. We have not yet reached our regeneracy. When it happens, I strongly suspect it will be in response to an adverse financial event. It may also happen in response to a geopolitical event. It may well happen over the next year or two.” – Neil Howe – Dating the Fourth Turning
Regeneracy occurred within five years of the outset of the three previous Crisis periods in U.S. history. The historic year of 1776 saw the colonies come together and declare independence from Great Britain. Group solidarity and willingness to die for their cause launched an eight year war and ultimately the formation of a new republic. The Civil War regeneracy occurred after the Union debacle at Bull Run in 1861. The Washington aristocrats had treated the battle like a show, where they could bring a picnic lunch and be entertained by an entertaining skirmish between two armies. After the resounding bloody defeat Abraham Lincoln assumed dictatorial like powers over the North and ordered the immediate enlistment of a half a million soldiers. He assumed unprecedented powers of taxation, forced conscription, suspension of due process and showed a willingness to administer maximum destruction to his foes. This would be no picnic in the park, as 700,000 men died in the next three years. The regeneracy during the Great Depression/WWII Crisis occurred in 1933 with the election of Franklin Roosevelt. He immediately declared a bank holiday and confiscated all the gold in the country. In a flurry of executive orders and bills sent to Congress he rammed through his New Deal, assuming new and broader powers for the Federal government and Executive branch.
Based on these examples in American history it is clear we have not entered the regeneracy stage of this Crisis. Also based on history, it is likely to occur by the end of 2013. A second blow to our nation and our psyches is the only thing that could possibly bring together a deeply divided nation. The country was struck by a category 3 hurricane in 2008. We have been in the eye of the hurricane for the last two years and have grown complacent. The eye will pass over us in the next year and we will again be buffeted by hurricane force winds – except the hurricane has strengthened to a category 5 as the “solutions” to the storm will make part two far worse. Those with a libertarian mindset are not likely to be happy with the Federal government and President taking on even greater powers in the coming years. The usurpation of more control over the citizens of this country in the last decade has been one of the major reasons for the ratcheting down of trust in our leaders. The upcoming presidential election will likely create the dynamic that propels the country into its regeneracy. If the next downward blow can be averted before the election, the country will end up with four more years of Obama. If the Crisis suddenly worsens before November, Romney assumes the mantle of Prophet Leader in January 2013.
I agree with Neil Howe that the country’s reaction to an adverse financial event will be the likely regeneracy moment. The explosive mixture of the five D’s will provide the spark for the next phase: Debt; Derivatives; Default; Devaluation; and ultimately Depression. There is no way to deny the $15.6 trillion of debt this country has accumulated, with $10 trillion of it added since 2000. The debt ceiling of $16.4 trillion will be breached in October 2012 at the current rate of extreme spending. This should set up an interesting dynamic just prior to the November elections. A replay of the August 2011 showdown could be disastrous for Obama if the stock market were to crater again.