Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Are We Too Occupied with Wall Street?

No is the simple answer. Yet there are no simple answers about what the Occupy movement is all about because it defies being boxed. Fox News and other agenda-driven outlets want to put the movement down because they see it as a threat. But is it?

Yes is the simple answer. But I've been through these kinds of things before. The counter-cultural revolution characterized by the hippies in the sixties and early seventies didn't end the Vietnam War that spawned it, but it did give us a cultural slackening in the areas of attire, grooming, sex, drugs, and an ever-improving rock 'n' roll. I couldn't have asked for a better time to be 18-25.

Still, we had a marginal effect on the Vietnam War. Remember, we thought we'd made progress when LBJ decided not to run in 1968 because the War had destroyed his credibility in spite of the good things he'd done or tried to do -- civil rights, voting rights, Medicare, the war on poverty. We thought we'd done something in 1970 after the Cambodian incursion and secret bombing, what with Kent State and campuses across the country united against the War.

Nixon came and went before the last Americans fled Vietnam in 1975 -- 1975! Yeah, the hippies in the sixties certainly did little to stop the War. We did influence the War's place in history, however. Did that give Americans pause before invading Iraq? I guess not.

Does that mean Occupy Wall Street will be a similar flare-up signifying nothing? It's too early to say, but the conversation is getting interesting.

Atrios pointed us to a delightfully apt tale about a teenage white girl with long dreadlocks, back in 2000, wearing a homemade t-shirt that read, "We Need a New System." Here it is at Media Matters:
It turned out Larry Summers had seen the girl too and was eagerly telling his guests about an interaction he had with her:
And so I asked the girl: 'What is this new system that you want? Tell me about it!' And the girl had nothing. Nothing! She had no fucking clue what this magical new system was supposed to be. No one is saying that there aren't problems with the world economy the way it is today. But these kids out there -- they don't know what they want!
"Mr. Secretary," said Zack. "You've got 50 economics PhDs in this room who pretty much run the world economy. And you're asking that girl for a better system? Aren't the solutions your job? You admit billions are living in hell, but it's up to that girl to fix it?"
Summers chuckled and the conversation moved on.
This is the same kind of drivel we get from Fox & Friends, criticizing the Occupiers because they don't have a seven-point plan.

Eugene Robinson likes it that way in his op-ed:
Occupy Wall Street and its kindred protests around the country are inept, incoherent and hopelessly quixotic. God, I love ’em.
I love every little thing about these gloriously amateurish sit-ins. I love that they are spontaneous, leaderless and open-ended. I love that the protesters refuse to issue specific demands beyond a forceful call for economic justice. I also love that in Chicago — uniquely, thus far — demonstrators have ignored the rule about vagueness and are being ultra-specific about their goals. I love that there are no rules, just tendencies.
Eric Lichtblau at the NY Times writes about the Democratic Party's tentative steps toward embracing the Occupiers but warns:
But while some Democrats see the movement as providing a political boost, the party’s alignment with the eclectic mix of protesters makes others nervous. They see the prospect of the protesters’ pushing the party dangerously to the left — just as the Tea Party has often pushed Republicans farther to the right and made for intraparty run-ins.
Glenn Greenwald rightly points out:
After Obama’s election, the Democratic Party controlled the White House, the Senate and the House for the first two years, and the White House and Senate for the ten months after that. During this time, unemployment and home foreclosures were painfully high, while Wall Street and corporate profits exploded, along with income inequality. In July, 2009, The New York Times dubbed JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon “Obama’s favorite banker” because of his close relationship with, and heavy influence on, leading Democrats, including the President. In February, 2010, President Obama defended Dimon’s $17 million bonus and the $9 million bonus to Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein — both of whose firms received substantial taxpayer bailouts — as fair and reasonable.
So, should the Democrats reach out to the Occupiers? Sure, just don't expect tons of love back. And don't be surprised if you get almost as much criticism as the Republicans. Now, the Republicans, with their no-tax-increases, no-more-money-for-unemployed-losers, and their contempt for anything that would help labor or the middle class, should get a mouthful. But Obama and the Dems haven't done much better, regardless of which team you're on.

The Occupations continue to spread today, with actions on 90 campuses, as well as in dozens of cities. Protesters in New York targeted the JPMorgan Chase skyscraper, while protesters did the same to the Wells Fargo building in downtown San Francisco.

Those who want to claim that the Occupy Wall Street movement doesn't have a clue what they stand for, I can tell them one thing: they don't like banksters! Since I don't either, which side am I on?

Update: Daily Kos has a look at who likes the OWS movement:
Attitudes toward OWS by-and-large fall along predictable partisan lines: Democrats have warm feelings and Republicans have negative ones. Independents are supportive, as are self-described moderates. The strongest positive sentiments come from self-identified liberals, who like OWS by a 69-7 margin. And in case anyone thought there was any synchronicity between this movement and the Tea Party, forget it: Tea Partiers view Occupy Wall Street unfavorably at a 12-63 clip. 
...The cohort with the most favorable overall views toward Occupy Wall Street are, fascinatingly, those who earn the most, over $100,000 a year. This does some serious damage to the claims of those who ignorantly holler about "class warfare." Put another way: Even people earning six figures know they are part of the 99%, too.
Very interesting. Of course, who likes the OWS movement isn't as important as who the OWS movement likes and whether they'll mobilize for any particular candidates. But there's probably no denying one thing: these were Obama's troops three years ago. Can he win them back?

No comments:

Post a Comment