In the first week of November, Americans from all different races, religions and socioeconomic classes joined together with a single, unified voice. Steeped in the patriotic rebelliousness of our nation's forefathers, their message was clear: The American people would not stand by and watch as their liberties were trampled underfoot by the corporate elite. As Nov. 4 drew near, they mobilized for a fight.
What began as a grass-roots movement escalated into a full-scale revolt. Citizens flooded Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to demand change, and when the cries of the masses became too powerful, too desperate to ignore, leadership yielded. Heads hung low from the ponderous weight of eggs, cream, frothed milk and just a hint of nutmeg, Starbucks reversed its decision to remove eggnog lattes from its holiday menu.
This monumental populist victory did not come without a price. Voter turnout in the midterm elections totaled just 36 percent of registered voters, which represents roughly half of the 2008 presidential election turnout. The midterm election participation was the lowest recorded since 1942, a year in which American voters were similarly preoccupied as the U.S. was in the process of establishing the European campaign in World War II.
Americans proved once again that nothing, including their most basic civic duty, would stand in the way of defending their personal freedoms. Invoking the great Martin Luther King, they demonstrated through sad duckface selfies and #bringbackeggnoglattes that injustice anywhere — from the spread of Nazi fascism to the menu removal of a delightfully festive coffee drink — is a threat to justice everywhere.
America is no stranger to this type of breakfast beverage activism. In defiance of the East India Company's removal of chai lattes from the colonies' export menus in 1773, the Sons of Liberty dumped 46 tons of tea into the Boston Harbor. Their cries of “Give me chai or give me death” are still echoed today by their modern-day tea party counterparts. (Although chai has been substituted for semi-automatic assault rifles to maintain its relevancy.)
Too often our generation is chided for its detachment and political ambivalence. And yes, there are social, economic and environmental issues at stake that challenge the preeminence of our nation and the world we will leave our children. But what shell of a future are we fighting for that doesn't include the velvety gingerbread mouthful of our most sacred Starbucks holiday drink?
So to celebrate the civic triumph of eggnog latte activism, a grande double shot for yours truly. But make it a skim — I don't have health insurance yet.
Peter Horn is from Charlotte, N.C., and lives in San Francisco by way of Atlanta.