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The Middle American Revolution - Martha Randolph Carr

The bill that's coming due for all of the bailouts may accomplish what no politician has been able to since George Washington ran for president and won over the hearts of constituents by buying rounds in local pubs.

Just the murmurs of middle income tax increases to pay for the economic bailout and health-care reform are getting the quiet, suburban Middle American voter, who just wanted to be left alone to raise his family and hang out with his neighbors, to start gathering together. An even bigger surprise is that they're crossing party lines.

Instead of separating into media-designated red or blue squares, these people have started comparing notes and have had the audacity to start compromising in order to come up with the most comprehensive solutions that fall within a budget not conjured out of fairy dust. It boggles the lobbyist mindset.

Dangerous times for the bigwigs in Washington when there's an angry mob of voters on the loose who are no longer easy to appease with catchy slogans. These middle-aged protesters are even coming up with their own plans, more bad news, and it could result in grassroots efforts with innovative ideas that don't include AIG executives on a cruise while police officers and public school teachers are laid off.

Middle America is coming together in unprecedented red-faced numbers and shouting, "Enough!" It was visible on the faces of the voters at town hall meetings with President Obama, who weren't asking questions as much as venting frustration.

This particular swath of America is an interesting bunch because most of them started to come of age during the late '60's and early '70's, when protest and creating actual change was all the rage. They have actual practice at a lot of this and have seen how powerful a thousand voices willing to work together can be over a small group of powerfully connected legislators with agendas.

It's a very tricky business to raise expectations of change, which means new and different, after years of watching everything slide into a black hole. At first, when the Obama administration spent us further into the hole, it was seen as a mop-up of what had come before them. Sometimes, we get left with someone else's big steaming pile and those are never pretty to fix.

However, somewhere in there, the middle class expected a little something for themselves. That's not unreasonable even in times like these.

Just ask all those executives who were fired for running their companies into the ground, but went home with millions in their pockets. Even better, ask the ones who have kept their jobs despite an extremely poor job performance. They know how this game is played.

Instead, it's as if the politicians conveniently went to the bathroom when the check arrived at the table and have assumed we're big enough suckers to just handle it. That's understandable given our previous reluctance to organize around middle-class issues.

But, pay attention because the times are changing. At some point, everyone gets tired of being taken for granted, and for the middle class, the time has arrived. We get it now. The politicians just aren't that into us and are only going to call when they need something before they head back to the deep pockets they truly love.

That's OK, because we can take care of ourselves and just you wait and see. The strength of America was never at the top. It's always been with the average American voter who gets up and goes to work, shows up at school night and takes care of their elderly parents.

Finally, they're catching on to that too and are organizing everywhere to come up with their own agenda. It's as if we've finally kicked the freeloaders out of the basement.

Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail her at Martha@caglecartoons.com.