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October 27th, 2011

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12:47 am - Musings on Politics and Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street
Here's the best analysis of how the whole OWS situation got started that I've yet seen. I expect that a decade or two from now, historians will be writing about the various political impacts of Anonymous – I expect there will be many more. bradhicks also has a thoughtful discussion of what various outcomes of OWS would be. I agree with some of this – obviously, if the protest gradually fades away over the next month or two, the net impact will be quite small, and by the Spring, the news media, and most of the public will have forgotten all about OWS. Also, if the protests end because various groups, especially those in NYC and DC start using violence, then they'll be squashed, and we can expect a major way of anti-progressive backlash. This thankfully unlikely outcomes is one of the only events that I know of that could get a Republican elected President in 2012. However, I think the list of positive outcomes is more complex, largely because of the state of US politics.

The tea-baggers have driven the already reactionary Republican Party further to the right, but it looks like they've finally gotten too far to the right. Not only are the tea-baggers are currently the most hated group in the US , their influence on the choice of Republican nominees has been utterly disastrous. Recently, Obama won over every Republican candidate in a straw poll in Arizona. When this happens in one of the single most reactionary states, Republican chances for winning the presidential election are slim indeed. The situation has gotten ludicrous enough that fundy televangelist Pat Robertson has said that the GOP has gotten too extreme to win the Presidency - Robertson is a hate-filled fundy, but he's not an idiot, and I entirely agree with him. With the exception of Mitt Romney, who neither liberals nor conservatives will vote for, all of the Republican candidates will get votes from the hard-core Republicans, and almost no one else. In short, it's looking a whole lot like the 1996 election, where Clinton easily beat Bob Dole. Barring something fairly unlikely, Obama is going to win in 2012.

Positive Outcomes for Occupy Wall Street
The question is then, what does this all mean about Occupy Wall Street and politics. As I see it, the more positive outcomes both require that the protests continue – preferably until next summer. If they are going on at the same time as the Democratic National Convention (preferably with one occurring in this same city), then they might have a significant impact. If they are still around in the Summer, then I think their existence, and especially that fact that they'll be sharing air-time with the political conventions will both influence some voters and will also cause at least some Democratic candidates to consider that they don't want to alienate progressives who are none too happy about the state of the US. Even if the protests have mostly ended by that point, if they keep going until 2012, I expect that they may manage to become big enough and popular enough that their July 4 convention in Philadelphia will be both large and important (as well as being not long before both party's presidential conventions and during the height of the pre-election political season. Also, popular support for and agreement with OWS is growing, with the latest US poll currently being 43% for and 27% against, as well as 66% of the people polled saying that the distribution of wealth in the US should be more even.

Combine this with the fact that the vast majority of the Republican victories in 2010 were to conservative Democrats means that there could be at least leftward shift in the Democratic Party – I don't expect a big one, but we haven't had any such shift in the past 30 years. Vietnam War protesters eventually helped end the war, because they captured public sentiment and the government ceased to be able to ignore either them or their ideas. Doing the same thing for the ongoing class war is harder, but at least small steps are likely possible.

Of course, then there's the other option bradhicks describes – violent suppression of the OWS protests, much like what happened last night when police attacked the Occupy Oakland protest. Currently, a veteran of the Iraq War is in serious condition after police attempts to suppress a peaceful protest. I'm not at all certain the Bloomberg will allows OWS to remain in place for the next 6 months, and so we may be looking at something similar happening in NYC, and it's likely at least a few people will be badly hurt and likely killed.

Despite attempts by the police and local government to prevent it, it's equally clear that images of this violence will appear on YouTube and then on the national news. Given that Fox News, the entire Republican Party, and pretty much every other conservative organization has come out strongly against OWS, if the sort of violence that changes popular opinion happens, Congress and in fact US politics as a whole could look somewhat different by the end of 2012. I vastly prefer the idea of the protests continuing and have a smaller impact, but with less bloodshed, but it's difficult to know if they'll be allowed to remain that long. One way or another, we shall see.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

(2 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:October 28th, 2011 08:02 pm (UTC)
The "violent ending" options are looking .. almost likely. The incident in Oakland is generating a lot of stink on Reddit, and by a bunch of ex-Marines. There has already been a little bit of alt.press coverage of this, and it hasn't all been as responsible as that linked piece.

It's getting kind-of scary.
[User Picture]
Date:October 29th, 2011 02:18 pm (UTC)
I truly hope you are right re elections...I am having a hard time being so optimistic...though it is not logical, many people I hear blame Obama for all the current woes.
but, I can try to retain hope.

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