Most pop artists - like Andy Warhol - were not revolutionaries. Indeed, while Dadaism (which was also based in New York) was primarily a political movement that used artistic means to express political beliefs, Pop Art was essentially an artistic (or perhaps a cultural) movement that used some of the trappings of political protest to make the art itself more interesting.
By making these connections between Pop Art and its artistic roots, we can make a good argument that it is not merely kitsch. We must look to Duchamp as a predecessor of Lichtenstein and Pop Art because Duchamp redefined who counted as an artist. And by doing this Duchamp also redefined what counted as art - and how art could be made. Beginning with Duchamp, every artist who came after him has had as a part of his or her conceptual bag of tricks the chance to use readymade objects in his or her work.
But while artists like Duchamp used physical objects that they picked up to make art with, it would be artists like Donald Judd to transform the literal use of readymades into a more conceptual use of them. Readymades were originally incorporated into art in part to shock the sensibilities of those in the artworld but also in part to protest what was happening in the world at large - the degradation of the lives of the common worker by industrialization, the rise of fascism, the love affair with the machine. Pop Art spun off of these same objections, but while Pop Artists were to some extent protesting what they saw in the world around them, they were also more content to mock what they saw whether than to try to change things, as Warhol (p. 340) suggests.
Warhol, Andy. "Warhol in His Own Words: Untitled Statements," from Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook for Atists' Writing, eds. Kristine Stiles and Peter Selz. Berkeley: UC Press, 1996.
However, this rather lofty tone cannot be reconciled with Modernism. Modernism was an essentially populist movement, pushing art into the