I just finished the most hilarious article I’ve read in a long time. Micheal Tomasky wrote yesterday over at the Daily Beast that he has no idea what the Occupy Wall Street protest is about, but he’s for it! He opens wondering how it is that the Tea Party gained such strength.
How on earth is it that we were hit with the greatest financial crisis since the Depression, very obviously caused by deregulation and adherence to other conservative nostra, and yet the only protest movement to arise from these ashes is one … of the right? It has been, to put it mildly, exasperating.
It never occurs to Michael that it was in fact his beloved “Big Government” that caused the financial meltdown in 2008, just as to the distension of the Great Depression of the 1930’s. I find it amusing how the liberals get so wrapped up in their underwear for no other reason than they begin from a false assumption.
Michael then goes on to proclaim he doesn’t know what OWS is about, but he’s solidly behind them!
I want to stipulate up front that I am firmly on OWS’s side. I don’t really know who its leaders are, and I don’t especially care. I don’t know its exact goals—a subject on which the movement has been roundly, and in my view pointlessly, criticized. But it is desperately needed. It needs to succeed. And I fear it won’t.
So … protesting for an undefined cause is worthy of one’s support? Maybe the real problem is that the OWS protesters don’t have just one cause. Like many left-leaning protests of the past few decades, word gets out that there’s going to be a
party protest and everybody and their brother shows up. Cause schmase, who cares? Protestin’ is cool … and besides, maybe I’ll get on TV!
However, our Michael is smart. He knows that protesting for the sake of protesting doesn’t achieve the goal of turning America into a “Workers Paradise.”
To succeed, it would have to model itself on 1963, not 1968. And I’m not confident that any left-wing protest movementtoday can understand that.
What do I mean? In 1963, we had the March on Washington. No one threw anything. There were no drum circles. The protesters of 1963 said to America, “We are like you; in fact, we are you.” There’s very little arguing that it worked. The protesters of 1968 said to America, “We are not like you; in fact, we hate you.” In France, the soixante-huitards were able, to some extent, to remake French society. In America, the protesters of ’68 accomplished little except to make Hubert Humphrey, one of the most decent human beings and progressive-minded mainstream politicians America had produced in 50 years, into some kind of reactionary, and help give us Nixon.
There hasn’t been a leftist protest in over two decades that has been focused on one single cause/issue/item. Abortionist decide to organize a ‘March on Washington’ and the next thing you know they’re joined by folks from the Communist Party, the Gay-Lesbian-Bi-Transgender Coalition, SEIU, PETA, Green Peace, La Raza, AFL-CIO and countless other single agenda groups. Worse yet, these groups are there not to support the abortionists but to highlight their own issue, so Michael is correct in worrying about the OWS “message” being diluted. He continues:
What changed, between 1963 and 1968? This: In 1963, protest was undertaken for the purpose of winning. By 1968, protest became a carnival of self-expression. Winning was the stated goal, but deep down, emotionally, it wasn’t really the goal: sticking it to the man was. Imagine that the SCLC-led protesters of 1963 had indulged in self-expression, and ask yourself whether they would have succeeded. I think I need say no more on that.
And this is where today’s protesters need to steal a page from the Tea Party activists. I beg, plead, implore, importune: Get some spokespeople out there for the cause who are just regular Americans. Don’t send Van Jones out there to be the public face of this movement. I happen to have a high opinion of Van Jones personally. He’s dedicated his life to justice in a higher-stakes way than I have. But any movement that is led by someone who was forced to resign from the White House and who signed a 9/11 truther petition will be dismissed by the mainstream media as left-wing and elitist in three seconds. You may like that or not like that, but it’s true.
The genius of the Tea Party movement lies entirely in the fact that its public faces were, by and large, regular Americans. How many stories did we all read about the homemaker from Wilkes-Barre and the IT guy from Dubuque who’d never been involved in politics in their lives and never thought they would be until the Tea Party came along? These people resonate with other Americans: “She’s my neighbor; he’s just like me.” That gave the Tea Party movement incredible force and made the media take it seriously, and making the media take you seriously is, alas, at least half the battle in our age.
Duh! Michael then goes back to his dream of turning the OWS mob into something more palatable.
The OWS movement is part of the way there. The “We Are the 99 Percent” trope is powerful. It is true. But the movement has to prove that it really is the 99 percent. It has to win middle America, and the way to win middle America is to be middle America. For all the Seattle-ish longhairs down in Zucotti Park—whom the mainstream media and the right wing will undoubtedly highlight—there are, to be sure, homemakers in Wilkes-Barre and IT guys in Dubuque who sympathize. Find them. Put them out there. Get them on cable.
There are no middle America folks I’ve met that can in any way relate to the riffraff participating in OWS. The people demonstrating on Wall Street hate middle America; that’s the whole point of the demonstration. Tear down everything that past generations have built … stick it to the man …
I suppose one could even say, ahhh … umm, “fundamentally transform America.” Now where have I heard that phrase before?