How Long Does a Revolution Take?

News of Muammar Qaddafi’s death signals the end of that dictator’s regime. For Libya, a provisional government is now being formed. That temporary government will, in addition to the day to day work of running a country, determine the permanent government to ultimately assume control.

How long is that likely to take?

For comparison, here are some key dates from US history, starting from when sufficient provocation took place – the Stamp Act in 1765 – that led to open and sustained hostilities – the Revolutionary War starting in 1775 – and its end – eight years later in 1783 – to when the US Constitution was signed into effect and the first president elected – in 1789.

Overall that is one year short of a quarter century, from Stamp Act to George Washington as President.

But from the end of the Revolutionary War, which is about where Libya might be right now, to the first President was six years.

If their timeline is similar to the birth of the United States, then it will be another six years until their constitution is in place and a first openly-elected head of state is decided, in 2017.

Six years.

A lot can happen in six years.

In the United States over the next six years, there will be two presidential elections.

In six years, there is the potential of significant turnover in both the House and the Senate. How many times will control flip-flop between Republicans and Democrats? Will the Libertarians gain a significant stake by then? What about the Green Party – what will happen there in that time?

Unemployment and the economy will certainly go through many changes in those six years. In 2017 when we look back at the period around 2011, what words will we use to describe what was happening? How will President Obama’s time in office be viewed?

What TV news network will be #1 six years from now?

On a personal note, I might well be seriously considering retirement then. That would be nice. Lots of time to shoot Bullseye, paint the house, redo the plumbing, rewire the attic and all those other fun “Honey Do” projects I’m sure are coming down the pike.

And we will then find out, again on a personal basis, if there will be any Social Security left, will Medicare still be viable or will we need to pay for every band-aid ourselves, will that retirement fund from an employer in my early career be worth anything, and what will have happened with our 401(k) savings?

(My oh my, would I like to get those questions answered sooner!)

Perhaps the Libyans will figure out a stabile government faster, our 401(k) will skyrocket in value, social security will discover big piles of cash in some dark, previously unknown corner of a government vault, and all our sins will be forgiven and we’ll all be going to Heaven.

But I’m not holding my breath for any of that to happen in the next couple of weeks.

History takes time.

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