There is a common theme that connects recent protests in Turkey, Brazil, Egypt, and elsewhere. That theme is the rising discontent of the middle class brought about by the failure of their governments to deliver popular priorities. Apart from the brief Occupy Wall Street movement, people aren’t taking to the streets here in the United States. Nonetheless there’s growing evidence that some of the trends unfolding abroad also are at work in our own backyard.
Last fall, a coalition of 85 grass-roots organizations, including teachers, veterans, unions, and community activists, placed something called the “Budget for All” on the Massachusetts ballot. The referendum urged the federal government to end the war in Afghanistan, reduce military spending, shift funding to domestic priorities, and increase taxes on the wealthy. Voters in the Commonwealth approved the measure by margins of nearly 3 to 1 in all 91 cities and towns where it was on the ballot, including many places that voted for Mitt Romney in the presidential race.