So one could reasonably argue that just as the United States was in some ways in the vanguard in the last decades of the eighteenth century, it was in some ways in the vanguard in the last decades of the twentieth. Some two hundred years after the American Revolution, there was similar ferment – the powerless taking on the powerful, demanding, finally, greater equity.
What then can we conclude about the historical trajectory? We can say what we have seen: that over the course of human history power and influence generally have devolved from the top down.
Barbara Kellerman, The End of Leadership
The unprecedented attempt last night by House Democrats to wrest control from House Republicans was no more than this: an attempt to wrest power from the powers that be, in this case, specifically House Speaker Paul Ryan, to force a vote on gun control.
In the short term, on the most obvious level, Ryan responded by squeezing the Democrats. He simply turned off the lights and announced their demand would be denied. In the long term, this will be seen as an historic moment in which the relatively powerless wrested some power and, as importantly, some influence, from the relatively powerful. The story of gun control in America has yet fully to be told.