I was listening to a public radio forum on the Diane Rehm show, discussing the Occupy Wall Street movement. I get it a little more now, though I must be honest in admitting my understanding is limited. There were two actual Occupiers in the forum, both of whom were the vaguest of the bunch.
I cannot write to describe their point of view very well; it will necessarily be clarified by my own lens of thought and expression. They describe the movement in the same idealistic ethereal terms that true 60s hippies did, and though I don’t get it, I do appreciate it. They are absolute that the method of the protesters must model the reforms they aim for, so as to avoid some hypocrisy. They want to be equally heard, to be equally counted in decision making, and to see government differently that the status quo. But gleaning this from their not very straightforward self-description was hardly easy for me. I may not be interpreting them well. If I am right, I can see this as admirable.
Another commentator, a writer said they have a goal to reform capitalism, and purge it of “crony capitalism.” Others said there is a collection of more particular goals, like banking regulations, union power, student loans, mortgage reform, campaign finance, etc. And there are some more radical ideas: anarchy, communism, some New Age economic system (whatever that is), and more. One panelist made a great point: The goal of cleaning up capitalism from crony politics would be a great choice of rally cry for the Occupiers. It is largely bi-partisan (save Grover Norquist, the Koch brothers and their ilk), and perhaps a fitting successor to the Tea Party in its more pure original form.
If we work with that goal (and I am not saying it will come to pass), there are two key questions that are then implied. First, are the classically liberal ideas, as mentioned above – corporate regulations, unionization, entitlement and assistance programs, etc. – the best route to clean crony capitalism? JP has argued that the answer to this is yes. And he may be right, though I am not completely convinced. I think he is more correct than, say the base of the right wing, who are more likely to increase cronyism than the left. The problem is, one side wants more government bureaucracy, and the other side wants more corporate power. One side wants to gum up capitalism and is in danger of encouraging dependence and government, and the other side refuses to consider fair tax policy and is – I believe – responsible for the recent bubble and subsequent deep recession. The Tea Party is in favor of major shrinkage of the government, and “starve the beast” tax policy. Ron Paul’s constituency agrees here, too. The existing government programs were put in place to increase opportunity and provide a safety net. One hopes they can and ever are still doing that. I put my eggs in the corporate regulation reform basket on this one before they go into other programs.
The next question is how does any of this happen? Obama is trying to win an election here, and that is when he will try to impress his voters. Will he respond to the Occupiers, and suggest needed corporate reform policies? Will this seem like pandering to a radical wing? Will we see any right side version of corporate reform? Are ALL politicians, of either party so beholden to the MONEY that reform is simply a vain good idea?
I see the Republicans are, one by one, self-destructing. If things continue as they are, Obama is a shoe-in for re-election, for one simple reason: he is cleaner than the other guys. Just, please, resist corruption.