Lose opportunity to transform ‘Occupy’ movement
CHICAGO – The brutal suppression – that’s what it was – of “Occupy Chicago” probably didn’t come as much of a surprise to some of the 175-odd demonstrators arrested for violating curfew at the city’s lakefront Grant Park last weekend.
After all, the kind of politics represented by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who insisted upon enforcement of park rules, is precisely what the “Occupy” movement is protesting: Governnment by the banks and the rise of corporate rule over the popular vote.
By failing to engage the movement, indeed by using police to break up or at least, relocate, demonstrations across, the country, Democratic mayors have managed to identify themselves and their party as part of the problem and only underscored the importance of “Occupy Wall Street,” et al.
They have missed an opportunity that won’t come again: A speech to the “Occupy” movement, or at least the opening of dialog, might have been a movement that both defined the movement and pointed the way to progress … or at least a way to illuminate underlying realities.
One of those underlying realities is that uncontrolled economic growth can lead to environmental disaster.
Emanuel and the New Democrats have embraced, at the very least, the language of environmentalism: That renewable energy sources must be developed and that global warming is a looming catastrophe.
They have not, however, acknowledged the importance of directing “excess” capital (technically there is no “excess” as this is “profit” that defines capitalism) toward solutions to environmental problems we have created. The culture of consumerism (which has generated profits) is a culprit. That consumerism is clearly shifting to the BRIC nations along with economic growth.
This has created opportunity for the rise of a third party – if not a fourth, fifth and sixth!
What we need are both one percenters and 99 percents who understand that humanity is on the brink.
We need to think small as in more energy efficient housing. We need to use people power where energy-intensive automation has taken its place. Obama “saved” the auto industry with “Cash for Clunkers.” Now we need to focus on public transportation. We need to use less energy. Little things that eliminate toxic waste make a difference.
The 99 percent and the one percent can work together on environmental issues. The Democrats may be in a slightly better position to articulate this than the Republicans. Rest assured, though, that the big money … where the true power resides … doesn’t care which party is “in power.” The truth is that neither is “in power.”
To some people the United States has taken on the appearance of post-World War II Britain. The nature of a country in decline is that when things are going well there is relatively little grumbling. In decline we become economic cannibals and then look for somebody to blame.
If we are going to be postwar Britain, can we do so without economic cannibalism and without blame?
It’s not surprising that Democratic mayors aligned themselves with Wall Street. Perhaps they were heeding the advice of former Bill Clinton pollster Douglas Schoen not to align with Occupy Wall Street … “an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence,” he wrote in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal. Yet Schoen assumes that OWS is a static population and not a populist movement.
If it becomes a true populist movement then Schoen is dead wrong and the Democratic Party is dead wrong.
Others in the business media have noted that the OWS movement around the country lacks specific policy initiatives: It has been predicted, for example, that New York Gov. Mario will NOT move to reinstate the millionaire’s tax – this year’s gift to the wealthy — and neither has OWS specifically urged such a reinstatement as a whole.
But “Occupy” is composed of different groups among them, perhaps, tax protesters. It may have started with youthful advocates of politics, espoused by Ron Paul, calling for an end to the “tyranny” of the Federal Reserve – at least that group has succeeded in getting their message across in the form of speeches. They have been joined by unions, educators, peace activists, people fearing for their Social Security benefits and people who have been simply disenfranchised. Tough to form specific policy initiatives out of that.
Many of them DO probably understand that the financial world, as it affects them, appears to be a very large Ponzi scheme with “New Democrats obscuring the view. Or echoing the argument that the economy is “too fragile” for reform … although … it would appear to many that the economy is doing fine, that it’s the 99 percent of the people who are hurting.
For those who don’t pay much attention to politics, the “New Democrats” holding sway in the Democratic since the beginning of the Clinton Administration (which Emanuel served as senior policy advisor) are a far cry from the old “Liberal Democrats” who purported, at least, to represent working people — although there is still a Liberal Democrat “face” to the party in the form of Vice President Joe Biden. Candidate Barack Obama wore the mask of a Liberal Democrat (at least that is what voters saw) – until he became President Barack Obama, at which point he stamped himself as a New (read “not progressive”) Democrat. His appointments should have made that clear).
Others are more clearly New Democrats.
Why are there “New Democrats?” Probably because the “old” Demorats couldn’t get elected any more … at least to the highest office, as liberal Democrats George McGovern and Walter Mondale demonstrated. It seems it may not be possible to win election without the support of Wall Street. Pres. Barack Obama clearly had that support.
Will “third party” candidates have an impact in coming elections? There has never been so much opportunity. Even better if all sides came to agreement that “wealth” now siphoned out of the United States and ending up who knows where target the very real environmental issues threatening life on the planet.