The below is a back in forth between FMFP and I that took place over the past couple weeks:
GPP: What do you make of the Occupy Wall Street, (Boston, Washington DC, etc) movement? Basically, what are your first impressions?
FMFP: On first glance, I think they are a disorganized group of young college kids looking for a reason to protest. On second glance, I don’t see much more. After milling around the crowd at Liberty Square (about a block from the NYSE) a few days ago, I came away with a few observations. First, it was not a pleasant smell. Showering and changing clothes are part of most people’s daily hygiene habits for good reason. If they want to appeal to your average American (not to mention the supposed “99%”), this is not helping.
Second, the politics of the protesters was anywhere from anarchist to socialist. Signs everywhere promoted the destruction of the capitalist system, a rewriting of the American Constitution and the violent end to America. Oh yeah, mixed in were some signs and literature promoting the President’s jobs bill. If they can’t bring down the whole system, I suppose they’ll settle for Congress passing President Obama’s jobs bill. Very logical leap, I know.
Third, there were the beginnings of organization setting in. By this I mean, I saw union organizers walking around with their clipboards and walkie talkies trying to coordinate the madness in to an effort fighting to protect exorbitant pensions and lifelong tenure. Again, good middle ground if they end up failing to rewrite the US Constitution.
I’m fascinated to see where this movement goes, if anywhere. Right now, it’s pretty difficult to take them seriously. Although I do enjoy watching supporting Democrats try to defend these protesters sh*%ting on police cars and stinking up the center of some very liberal cities.
FMFP: While the protesters deny they are associated with any political party, the Democrats and some major public unions have demonstrated public (and perhaps financial) support for the protests. Do you think this is a wise move? And what would you advise if you were a Democrat Party or public union official?
GPP: Great question. Though the Occupy movement has a myriad of differences with the Tea Party phenomenon, one thing they surely have in common is the difficult position they put the political establishment in. The Tea Party movement helped bring to office many very fiscally conservative Republicans (Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio), but it also cost the GOP in several winnable races in 2010 (Nevada, Delaware). In my opinion, the Occupy demonstrators pose a much greater risk for the Democrat Party. It is well-known that though most of the American populace has major grievance for Wall Street, most of those actually protesting are what I would call ‘permanent protesters’. It doesn’t take much to get many of these people to join a sit-in, march, etc for a liberal cause, be it the environment, ‘social justice’, or war. My feeling is these ‘permanent protesters’ are much closer to representing the 1% than the 99%. I believe most Americans view their demonstrations with skepticism and wariness. Very few Americans have much sympathy for those on Wall Street who got tax payer bailouts, but I don’t think they have anymore sympathy for those who spend their days chanting slogans instead of going to work a 9-5 shift. If your a Democratic politician do you really want to tie yourself to this Occupy group that you cannot control and who many Americans view as fringe? If some of these protests make a turn for the worse (i.e. Seattle WTO meeting), no one will want to be associated with this group. Another negative aspect for the incumbent Democratic administration is that these Occupy protests are just one more sign of the disappointment that many Americans are feeling toward our current national state. As FMFP poignantly referenced above, aren’t these protesters asking for change, and wouldn’t that have to mean a change of who’s in charge of Washington?
Now, I’ll let you tackle the Union side of this question:
FMFP: SEIU has fully thrown its support behind the movement and seeing as how it’s one of the President’s best friends, one could easily assume a connection. Also, behind the effort is our friend George Soros, liberal funder extraordinaire. His main group used to spread money to progressive groups, the Tides Foundation, has funded the group Adbusters, which is a social agenda driven magazine that practices in “culture jamming.” Adbusters first ran teasers of the OWS event back in mid-July. Hashtags were created and an ad was placed in their magazine for the September 13 event. The Working Families Party of NY was also involved day one with the protests. Just a little digging finds that WFP shares the same mailing address as ACORN and SEIU. Interesting to say the least. But don’t hold your breath on the media cracking this case. Reuters ran a story yesterday drawing attention to the Soros-Adbusters connection to OWS only to be quickly smacked down by fellow media pundits for even attempting to imply that OWS is not an organic, sincere movement.
Where do you think these protests are going? Will they have legs?
GPP: I think they have already shown some legs. Unfortunately for the movement as a whole, these legs are kicking in Oakland, Calilfornia and polls are starting to show the public souring on the movement. Nevertheless, I think that a decent portion of the protesters will survive the winter and keep up their fight. I can imagine ‘Occupy’ protesters at both the Democratic and Republican Presidential Conventions and I would say this is more of a threat to the former. As long as the economy is in the tank, these protests will keep up, but I feel they are unlikely to have a major impact on American politics either now or in the future. There will always be those ready to drop everything (sometimes this is just a Chomsky book) and hit the streets with signs, but a majority just want to have a good job and once one arrives….