Werner Schuch, Two Riders of the Thirty Years' War and Farmers, 1881, oil on canvas.
Painting from the collection of the Grohmann Museum at Milwaukee School of Engineering.
Robert Reich has his own ideas about how the dynamic worked.
"First, the working class is paralyzed with fear it will lose the jobs and wages it already has."
In Secretary Reich's world, it's union busting and globalization at work, not regulation and rent-seeking.
"Second, students don’t dare rock the boat."
The activism of the Sixties was against a background of total victory in World War II and a Cold War economy that kept the military-industrial complex in work.
"Reformers and revolutionaries don’t look forward to living with mom and dad or worrying about credit ratings and job recommendations."
Let alone antagonizing the current tenured radicals by seeming to appear too conservative?
"Third and finally, the American public has become so cynical about government that many no longer think reform is possible."
Phrased slightly differently, "How's that hopey-changey stuff working out?"
And yet, the commentariat cannot let Chris Christie's traffic jam or Hillary Clinton's nomination alone. Might the governing class opt to do more by doing less?