Sunday, October 9, 2011

Many Perils Ahead For #OWS

Every thoughtful person who feels he/she is part of the "99%" of us ordinary people whom the Occupy Wall Street movement claims (and I believe is seriously attempting) to represent knows that the road ahead will at best be strewn with obstacles, perhaps even minefields. Already politicians and political activists who have a vested personal interest in preserving the existing sociopolitical/economic systems in the United States, or who are committed to replacing the existing systems with their own personal version of what should take their place are beginning to react.

From the political Right, so far the comments seem to have been mostly derogatory as in this statement by Republican Congressman Peter King of New York, who stated that, ""The fact is these people are anarchists. They have no idea what they're doing out there. They have no sense of purpose other than a basically anti-American tone and anti-capitalist. It's a ragtag mob basically." One supposes that even Congressman King is entitled to his opinion, and one might even applaud him for having delivered that (ridiculous!) opinion straight out.

From the political Left, however, much more insidious comments and even "endorsements" have been made. Take, for example, this article: "Why Occupy Wall Street Isn't the Tea Party" which was included in today's "#OccupyWallStreet #usrevolution am" online newspaper. The author of the article is openly contemptuous of the fact that many Americans whose political beliefs are grounded in what they perceive as right-wing principles also support the Occupy Wall Street movement, and seems to take no cognizance of a fact which any American with an ounce of sense already knows: if the movement cannot appeal to Americans from across the political spectrum it will ultimately fail. So why would the author adopt such a tone if he actually believes (as he purports) to believe in the movement itself?

There are others on the established political Left who are already trying to co-opt the entire movement into becoming simply a cheering section for the re-election of President Barack Obama in 2012, or at least suggesting to Democrats and other progressives that it could become so, as in this article: ""What Does Obama Do With Occupy Wall Street?".

I for one do not believe that the authors of either of the last two articles cited are clueless about what the Occupy Wall Street movement really represents, or about the goals it is trying to achieve. The first, for reasons which could range from simple, albeit blind socialist fervor to deliberate sabotage is clearly in favor of driving all those who are not of the Left in some way, shape, or form from the movement entirely. The second openly sees the movement as an opportunity for Democrats, and for Mr. Obama in particular, to retrieve their political fortunes, which polls show are currently in a state of disastrous decline. It is as if the author of the second article believes that if only Mr. Obama and the Democrats can wave some sort of magic wand, the members of the Occupy Wall Street movement, or at a minimum a substantial percentage of them, may well be turned into the proverbial cavalry riding to the rescue in the upcoming 2012 election.

What will be crucial to the survival of the movement will be the ability and willingness of those participating in it all across the country to recognize such ploys for what they truly represent, and to resist such ploys at all costs. The very fact that the movement has now become established in such places as Dayton, Indianapolis, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Missoula, Cincinnati, Lexington, St. Louis, Birmingham, Dalton, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Tucson, Denver, Wichita, Kansas City, Jackson, Boise, Charlotte, Asheville, Raleigh, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, just to name a very few, is striking proof that it has, to date, appealed to Middle America with some considerable degree of success. But that support could be lost as quickly as it has been gained.

If the Occupy Wall Street movement is to have any hope of bringing meaningful change to this country, it will need the support of Americans who hold the broadest range of political opinions possible. Americans today, all across the country, have become engaged, or are in the process of becoming engaged, in ongoing dialogues and discussions on a scale and of a breadth which has never before occurred in the United States.

Let us hope (and if we are religious, pray) that organizers and those who are responsible for any publications produced from within the movement manage to avoid those who would divide rather than unite, and that they will somehow manage to avoid succumbing to any of the pitfalls which have kept us divided as a nation for far too long.

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