1) PLUTOCRACY – America has long been run by the wealthy. But over the last 70 years or so that power has been counterweighted by the expansion of the "middle class" tied to the labor movement and the globalization of the economy. But over the last 25 years, post-Reagan, the wealthy have had their power expanded through the rise of the financial sectors of the economy. When capitalism works as intended, money makes money, and when the "Market" was made into a religion that politicians of both parties came to worship, that meant the people with money would make more money and centralize their power. Thus, the immoral gap between the rich and everybody else that has come to characterize American society. While the financial crisis was a bit of a setback for the plutocracy, "Wall Street is back!", meaning the wealthy have reestablished their grip on our economy and all that flows form that. And it could get much worse. Currently the Supreme Court is deciding a case, Citizens United versus the Federal Elections Commission, that conservatives are hoping will overturn all limits on election spending by corporations. Something like 80% of stock wealth (that is, corporations) are owned by less than 10% of the population. If the conservatives have their way, that 10%, through the corporations advancing their interests, will be able to dominate the public space (even more than they already do) and determine who is in and who will win elections. How much plutocracy will the majority of Americans take? With the media dominated by private wealth, will the majority of Americans be able to accurately discern what is going on? How will the media dominated by private wealth seek to divert attention and redirect discontent away from the social arrangements organized to advance the interests of private wealth?
2) SHIFTING DEMOGRAPHICS – The fact is that the white suburban type people who constitute the core of the Republican Party, and the fans of people like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Bill O'Reilly are losing their electoral power at a rate that they will soon not be able to ignore. With the shifting demographics of the US, mostly the increases in people of Hispanic/Latino heritage, the white suburbans are simply losing their ability to control national elections as they have over the last 50 years. When this reality sinks in, many of these people are likely to see it not as the progress of American democracy, but as interlopers stealing "their" country.
3) THE RISE OF UNREASON AMONG WHITE SUBURBAN AMERICANS – The summer of "Tea Parties" and screeching town hall meetings promoted by Glenn Beck and Fox News opened a window onto something serious. Suddenly people who served as cheerleaders for the undermining of the Constitution by the previous president think attempts to bail out the American auto industry and make the health care system more fair are "fascism." This is truly nutty – obviously something else is going on. Obama's policies are not 'all that,' but to call them fascist and socialist and communist is just divorced from reality, just like the insistence that Obama was born in Kenya until he "proves" otherwise. What does it mean that some percentage of Americans can be so far off the mark in their assessment of reality? What does it mean that Glenn Beck, who is either mentally ill or a total charlatan, has become the leader of these people? When these people assert they will "take their country back," they apparently mean they will take it back from the large majority who elected Obama in the last election. In other words, these white suburban Americans believe they have the right to choose who leads America, apparently even when they cannot get a majority of people to agree with them. This belief and the larger inability to engage rationally with reality is a dangerous combination.