Occupy Wall Street is getting its message together. I say it’s happening at about the same pace as the Tea Party did. I did a little research on the origins of the Tea Party; they were plenty diverse, and accusations of incoherence flew around then too. For the record, they solidified just as Obama took office, but arose from a frustrated, loosely libertarian base. OWS has a corresponding progressive base. Eventually, their platform will come. And then some candidates and pet bills. It won’t be long we will witness what the media so eagerly anticipates, their establishment as a bona fide counter to the Tea Party.
And I can tolerate that this group’s message is moral as much as pragmatic. Both groups have empowerment of the individual in common, as has already been blogged about. And both groups profess some basic morals. Their overarching themes are liberty for one, justice for the other.
It’s worth paying attention to the public and media anticipation of the groups’ becoming battling extremists. Although it would be superb red meat for the media sharks, I am not sure it’s right to set them up as evenly matched boxers in opposite corners. It was extremists that fouled up congress, the debt ceiling and gave the US a global reputation as a gridlocked government. It was W Bush’s extremism that got us into war of choice, and sent the debt into the stratosphere in the first place.
JP, I am aware that you think the best way to get the Crazies to see the light is with Newtonian physics; use an equal and opposite force. And should this materialize, this moderate could find some value if it were to lead to some centrist success. However, to overplay the metaphor, what about relativity? What kind of extreme are we looking at here?
Is it time for revolution? The Tea Party thinks so, and some of the occupiers do too. I am convinced, however, they do not envision the same post-revolution world. The hero for the Tea Party is Ron Paul. Even if every Tea Partier doesn’t share his view, most of the base wants change on that scale, and in the same general direction. OWS is probably not ready to anoint their Great Leader, but you can bet it won’ be a blue dog democrat. How about the likes of Ralph Nader, just to get in the right frame of mind?
I do not look forward to this kind of clash of the titans. I’ve read a few interviews with Bill Clinton, the Master Diplomat and Accomplisher Despite the Prevailing Forces. He found a way to steer down a middle course, and I like his mission accomplished list. He had a way of generating an agenda, a corps of ideas and projects around which some believers could rally. He ticked off both extremes, of course, and the right got so upset they had to manufacture grounds for impeachment.
But even today, he is re-polishing his tarnished image with charity work and comments that re-frame, even calm the uneasy debate the like, “People have been betting against America for 200 years – it’s a maddening country – and they all wound up losing money.” I’m referring to an interview with Simon Schama posted on FT Magazine. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/e0c1418c-f526-11e0-9023-00144feab49a.html#axzz1bHVWJ3U2
Clinton gave this additional insight: “…this is a different sort of challenge. It’s short-term and long-term, it’s complicated and we need a narrative that allows people to buy into America. The best I can do is tell you that what works in the modern world is different from what works in politics. … Criticizing the government is the birthright of every American,” he says, since the nation was born, after all, “in response to what we believed was an irresponsible abuse of power … that was the number one obsession of the founding fathers”. But as much as the framers of the constitution wanted a system that would protect Americans from those abuses, they also wanted “a government that could be strong and flexible enough to do what needed to be done through all times and ages. They understood that if you want entity, someone has to provide the glue.”
He not only finds a way to create a cohesive center, in addition he knows the route there is through the wallet. “The answer for America has got to be to do the things that we know are good economics.”
Obama has talked to and learned from Bill Clinton – his strengths and foibles. For better or worse, Barack must be the hero for the mainstream, the middle. What I hope for is that some of us still have faith in our neighbors, because they are the public, the citizens, the voters who can make change. And I hope the change is good for regular people.