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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why OWS is not The Tea Party

Insiders have a tough time tapping into outsiderism. Jonah Goldberg explains why President Obama cannot go far in co-opting the Occupy Wall Street movement:

If Occupy Wall Street is a sincere, organic, grassroots movement for radical change and overturning the status quo, it can't be 100 percent behind the guy who's been running the country for the last three years.

Moreover, Democrats had near total control of the government for Obama's first two years. Together, Obama and congressional Democrats already got their Wall Street and student-loan reforms, their health-care overhaul, and a huge stimulus. And yet Occupy Wall Street is still furious with the political status quo. Does anyone believe Obama can both run on his record and co-opt the Occupy Wall Streeters?

A "political hip-hop artist" who goes by the name "Immortal Technique" summarizes the view of many OWSers. "We're willing to put [Obama's] second term on the altar of democracy and sacrifice it if we need to," I.T. told, "to send a message to the rest of the world saying, 'If you promise us change, and then you deliver nothing but the same, if you do these little superficial changes to pacify the people, to placate people, then you expose yourself.'"


The tea parties had an easy time of it in 2009 because there was no one in power to defend and no compromises required. If the financial crisis had hit in 2006, the emergence of anything like the tea party would have torn the GOP apart. But in 2009, with Bush gone, Democrats running the show, and Obama championing a program that made George W. Bush look like Calvin Coolidge (praise be upon him), there was nothing holding back the tea parties.

For Occupy Wall Street to enjoy similar freedom, it can't be hobbled by having to defend the most powerful and important politician in America. You can't declare war with the status quo and support the chief author of the status quo at the same time. Similarly, you can't run for re-election and be joined at the hip with fringe revolutionaries.

If it were possible to buy stock in Occupy Wall Street, shareholders would be doing everything they could for a Republican victory in 2012. Only then will you see Democratic leaders and Immortal Technique fans alike, locked arm in arm, in united opposition to the Powers that Be.