You mean like Paul Wellstone? (keeping in tune with this thread...)
I know it's not a democracy nor was it ever intended to be one. But thinking some saviour is going to come along and change things radically is ______. It just won't be permitted. Anyone that does come along will just be thoroughly branded as a lunatic and marginalized (e.g. Kucinich).
Wellstone & Kucinich (& Sanders, for that matter) were & are good liberals (in the North American sense, i.e. what Europeans call social democrats), but not radicals, i.e. going to the root of the matter, that the U.S. is a plutocratic empire, not a democracy that just needs the right elected leadership. Of course the media and politicians would try to ignore a progressive (Sanders, for instance, is practically invisible to the U.S. press compared to the other Senate "independant", Vichy Democrat Leiberman). But the system might have more of a problem dealing with a real radical A sufficiently disconsonant message might become a cause celebre
precisely because the hard right couldn't resist trumpeting this "insanity" to its base. For instance, my local rep Barbara Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against the resolution authorizing the war against Afghanistan. There were national calls to recall her on all the pundit shows and throughout the media, despite the fact that 58% of her constituents approved of her action. The the establishment called off its attacks when it realized that attempts to unseat Lee were giving her a platform to express her views.
But that was a one-off kind of thing, and really, Lee isn't very radical, though she used to be a Panther. I wonder what would happen if, say, Noam Chomsky were a senator instead, repeatedly and articulately castigating the foundational myths that are the basis for whatever consent the American people give to imperialist adventures.
Certainly the system would try desperately to use constitutional means to silence a radical voice, a la
the full court press that pushed Cynthia McKinney out of congress. That might work, but even if right-wing Georgia the system had a hard time icing McKinney, and she in fact was reelected in 2004 after being forced out in 2002, and would probably still be in the House today if it weren't for the Capitol Police incident giving the establishment enough ammunition to (barely) edge her out in 2006. If those tactics didn't work probably such an effective radical leader would meet with an "accident," I guess that's what the allusion to Wellstone was about. Certainly that has happened before, and would cause a certain amount of tongue wagging and skepticism, but unless the hit were clumsy it probably wouldn't threaten the status quo. So probably a single "hero in history" couldn't change the terms of debate, it would take several actors across the country. If we had proportional representation it would be a lot easier to generate such a radical movement.
I guess my real point is that the American people are not uniformly reactionary, there are millions of very solid progressives here, and if a radical point of view could get any kind of real hearing a powerful oppositional mass movement is not beyond the pale. Most Americans are very unhappy with the way things are going, they just don't see an alternative being offered.
"The establishment is finding itself having to resort to electoral fraud and death squads to retain neo-liberal footholds..."
And this is something new???
No, not new, Latin America looked like it was heading in a progressive direction in the seventies and and it took two decades of coups and death squads to wipe out a generation of radicals, killing hundreds of thousands of people. But by the early eighties it looked like that had worked, socialists were marginalized everywhere in Latin America, elections became contests between competing lists of neo-liberals. The establishment didn't NEED to resort to electoral fraud and violence most places. In the last few years, though, there has been a huge resurgence of the left in countries like Bolivia, Venezuela, Uruguay, Brazil, etc. OK, you don't need to convince me that Lula, Kirchner & Bachelet are not real alternatives, but they are actually to the right of their population, holding back a lot of popular anger at capitalism.
10-15 years ago the ruling class looked unassailable, their talking heads were going on about the "end of history": now the situation seems much more fluid, in part because of Bush & company's overreach. Nothing inevitable, but the pendulum seems to be swinging our way after 30 years of rightward momentum.
By the way, for a look at the mechanics behind the collapse of WTC7 (which I'll grant, looks strange), see here: http://www.popularmechanics.com/blogs/911myths/4213805.html