In only 48 hours, millions of Americans flooded the phone lines, e-mail addresses and websites of their local and state politicians, demanding they voice the will of the people and fight against The Great Bankers Bailout.
Millions of e-mails were sent, hundreds of thousands of phone calls made, it was a mini-revolution driven by internet videos and txt communications. The speed at which millions found out what was going on and were able to instantly do something about it can probably be counted as one of the fastest and greatest mass movements of Americans in a generation. However, it's unlikely to stop the $700 billion bailout, or all the other bailouts to follow :
Has it ever been any different?
Willie Benway, 45, a Bush-voting truck driver with a Harley-Davidson jacket and a faded blond goatee, has little in common politically with Sharon Valentine, 60, a retired English teacher and self-confessed “woolly liberal”. On the subject of the $700 billion bank bailout plan, however, both are on the same page.
“It's goddamn un-American,” Mr Benway said as he leant against his pickup outside the Thrift Store in Richfield, Minnesota. “We don't give money to companies. We're not France - yet.” For Ms Valentine, sitting in a nearby mall: “Congress was right to vote the Bill down. It doesn't tackle the root causes or help the people that need it.”
In Richfield, a typical middle-class surburb of Minneapolis in the heart of the Midwest, Americans from across the political spectrum found something to gripe about when it came to the bailout.
“I literally had thousands of e-mails asking me to vote no on this,” said Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota, one of 95 Democrats who opposed the Bill on Monday. “I've never seen anything like it in my two years of Congress. Folks just didn't want it.”
Three of Minnesota's eight members of the House of Representatives voted against the Wall Street bailout Bill on Monday. Two were Democrats and one was a Republican. Michele Bachmann, the lone Minnesota Republican to oppose the Bill, issued a statement calling it “rushed, unworkable and short-sighted”.
During Monday's debate, the ultra-rightwinger read into the Congressional record a piece from Investor's Business Daily putting the blame for the mortgage crisis on a Clinton-era rule change. This, it was claimed, had pushed the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “to aggressively lend to minority communities” so that home ownership could “open the door for blacks and other minorities to enter the middle class”.
But there is also the risk of fallout should the warnings of impending economic catastrophe come true. According to a Washington Post poll released this week, 47 per cent of Americans opposed the Bill. Nevertheless, almost nine out of ten expressed concern that the bailout's failure could lead to a more severe economic decline.
“I keep hearing that if we don't put in all this money then people will lose their jobs,” Randi Hansen, 26, a waitress at Richfield's only bowling alley, said. “I'm really worried about it. My friend has already lost her house and I can't afford not to work now. I'm a single mother and I have $50 a month to live on.”
Tim Dyksman, 38, who was laid off from a warehouse business in nearby Edina six months ago, said: “It sucks that big bosses get bonuses while the little guy gets screwed.”