Friday, October 7, 2011

'Occupy Wall Street' Protesters In Danger Of Becoming Dupes For The Republican Party

By Manifesto Joe

This isn't going to be a popular post among many on the "left," or what's left of it. Politics, for those who have studied the subject for a while, clearly emerges as the art of compromise. It's certainly necessary to have the activists outside on the streets, but perhaps even more important to have those nasty insiders who actually make the "sausage" laws that we have to live with for generations.

I'm happy in one sense to see lots of people on the streets in the "Occupy Wall Street" protest movement. It's high time that a lot of Americans understood that the system has long been rigged against them. Not that this is anything new -- it's just gotten worse over the past 30 or so years.

A sad thing that I'm seeing in this movement is the Mainstream Media spin on it, and how many people in the rank and file of it are playing into its hands. It's being depicted as a protest against "bad economic conditions" rather than against the fundamentals of a capitalist system that has reverted to its primitive and brutal roots, with few mitigating forces to shield ordinary people from its ill effects.

One laid-off worker in New York was interviewed by the MSM, and he said that he saw no real difference between Bush and Obama. The middle class in America, he "reasoned," is actually worse off after nearly 3 years of Obama than it was after 8 years of Il Doofus.

I would have to say to such a person that he was missing the salient point. If a Bush surrogate had been elected president instead of Obama, such people would INDEED be able to see the difference, quite starkly. Obama clearly hasn't been everything that the remaining progressives in America might have wanted. But they fail to see that the Il Doofus "kleptocracy" was given an almost totally free hand for nearly seven years before the meltdown got fully under way, and that Obama's policies, while not all we wanted, have served to keep things from getting much worse than they might have been.

I'm one person who was very unhappy and railing against the "kleptocracy" that we were seeing all through the '80s during the Reagan years, but I didn't notice many people raising any cain back then. It was, in fact, hard to get anyone to even listen to the alternative viewpoint. Now, we have political neophytes taking to the streets and railing against things that have been happening for decades, not just for a few years. Come to the party, folks. Some of us were telling you all this shit back in the days when you were dutifully casting your first votes for Republicans.

Again, Obama hasn't been all I would have liked, but in the current climate, it's unlikely that anyone electable could have been. He was forced to work with a Congress that wouldn't give him what he wanted. In November 2008, we elected a president, not a dictator. As an example, the public option narrowly passed in a heavily Democratic House of Representatives. In the Senate, it had a majority, but fell short of the 60-vote "supermajority" that our system requires to enact damn near anything. DINOs like Ben Nelson and "independents" like Joe Lieberman wouldn't put it over. For politically savvy people, this wasn't a surprise. Our system is awash in corporate money, and people like that know that they can't stay in office without that largess.

So, the public option fell short. And then, what was the reaction of the voters? Over 30% of the people who voted for Obama in 2008 didn't show up at the polls in 2010. The Republicans, fueled by the faux populism of the Tea Party and Koch brothers' money, won the House back in a near landslide. People like me told you what was going to happen after that. And you were surprised?

Get real, folks. Some of us out here were fighting this battle even before some of you were born. And it's been damned thankless.

Don't let the MSM distort this into something else. Even Newt Gingrich is trying to make this out into some faux right-wing populist BS. Don't let it happen!

Obama isn't what I wanted, and probably even less what you wanted. Would you prefer Rick Perry, who calls Social Security a Ponzi scheme? Or Mitt Romney, who wants to increase the military budget and add 100,000 troops to our fighting force, and yet still presumes to balance the federal budget?

Well, it's looking more and more like you're going to get one of those right-wing demagogues. Then perhaps you will see, the hard way, what the difference is between a hard-right-wing fool and a centrist compromiser. I'll take the latter, thank you.

Compromise is hard. Dealing with moronic ideologues is harder. You're about to find that out.

I'm reminded of lines from The Second Coming, a poem by William Butler Yeats.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Don't let it happen, protesters. Another presidency like that of Il Doofus could really, really do this country in.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.


lunamother said...

I'm afraid you're right. I hear the same things over and over again- parrots give more thought into what they say than most "news"-watching people.

I can't even be angry at the Tea Partiers anymore- I feel a great sadness for them- they're just as frustrated and scared as the rest of us, and have had the additional insult to have been misled.

I really think that's what it's going to take- for the (heavily armed and proud) Tea Party members to SEE what "their guys" will do for (and to) them.

That's when it's going to get ugly.

Marching4Change said...

))One laid-off worker...said that
))he saw no real difference
))between Bush and Obama.

Frankly, I have to agree with this worker. There is no real difference.

Let's say someone had come to you in 2008 right after Obama was elected. Let's say that he told you that more than 3 years into Obama's term, the U.S. would still be fighting a war in Iraq, operating Gitmo, keeping the "Patriot" Act in place, routinely raining down hundreds of deadly drone attacks on God knows who, keeping the Bush tax cuts for the rich in place, and doing absolutely nothing about the Global Warming crisis, ignoring organized labor, and that not one of the crooks on Wall Street had been convicted, (much less charged with any crime), frankly I don't believe anyone would have believed you. Even an extreme cynic like me never would have believed that not one of these issues had been addressed.

What has changed, really? I don't see any change. (Oh, and before you mention "health care", just remember, this was originally a GOP plan that was proposed by that famously Liberal group, the Heritage Foundation. Anyone who thinks it represented anything "Liberal" has been listening to too much goddamn corporate MSM.

Obama did have a mandate for change. But instead of acting forcefully like Bush did--back when Bush forcefully rammed through (and got) every single thing he wanted, despite losing the popular vote in 2000, Obama was a wimp who caved on everything.
Taking to the streets is the ONLY way we will ever get change in this country. Instead of taking potshots at the protesters, I would urge you to leave the keyboard for a few hours and march with us.

Look, I realize that Obama didn't have the votes for a lot of things. But a lot of us are pissed off that he's been such a wimp. And what's up with this bizarre insistence on "compromise"? There IS no compromise with today's GOP extremists. They have NO INTENTION of working with Obama--and yet he continues to reach out to them. We saw this during the debt ceiling debate where Obama actually wound up giving the Republicans MORE THAN THEY ORIGINALLY ASKED FOR.
Incredible. Just incredible.

That's one reason I don't giving a flying fuck about which party wins in 2012. It really makes no difference. And no, I'm no pie-in-the-sky idealist----I'm a realist.

Manifesto Joe said...

It's very easy to understand your frustration, and I all but said so in the post. But I would have to take exception to one thing -- no, you are definitely not a realist.

It was people like you who voted for Nader instead of Gore in 2000, in the states where it really counted, and subsequently got us 8 years of Il Doofus. A lot of people thought that Il Doofus would be such an imbecilic douchebag that he wouldn't last more than one term. In hindsight, they were SO, SO WRONG. These people play for keeps. If necessary, they will even steal elections to win.

Real politics is a nasty game of yards, feet, even inches. National health care was something that went all the way back to Truman, and the special interests shot it down then. LBJ -- all too much the realist, perhaps -- saw that he couldn't get everything Truman wanted. So he zeroed in on certain focuses and got us Medicare and Medicaid. That's how this game is played.

I applaud those who are getting out and marching. I'd join you, but I'm one of those in the U.S. fortunate enough to have a full-time job, so I've got to attend to it. It's very refreshing to see people getting out onto the street. But the point of my post is -- don't end up just getting Romney or even worse, Rick Perry elected. You may not have a memory long enough to see a difference with Obama now. When those buzzards start going after Social Security and such, you'll damn sure see the difference then.

John Myste said...

If Perry or someone of his ilk wins and a leftist justice leaves the supreme court and congress is republican, almost a century of social progress will be reversed.

SSN will finally get a successful challenge. Medicare will be all but gone. Roe V. Wade will be overturned and States will again decide.

The New Deal will become knows as the Old Deal, and the New New Deal will be horrible.

Judicial Review has always been dangerous, and tantamount to legislating from the bench. In this case, it will be the precedent that turns the country into exactly what it was in them good ole days.

Manifesto Joe said...

Mr. Myste and I have had a few disagreements in the past, but I know a genuine realist when I see one. He seems to have a real-world grasp on what will happen if the Republicans get their clutches on the White House yet again.

Marching4Change, I truly appreciate what you and others are, at long last, doing here. But worse things can and WILL happen if people fail to see the difference between an Obama administration, perhaps ineffectual compared to what was talked about, and what we will undoubtedly see if Perry or even Romney get into the executive branch, with Republicans at the helm again. Many grueling battles that "we" thought had been fought and won decades ago will have to be fought all over again. Your generation will have to serve up the symbolic martyrs for such a struggle. People my age have already been fighting the bastards for decades, thanklessly, and won't be around for very long to provide much help.

Jack Jodell said...

We all know the MSM is pretty vapid when it comes to truth and thoroughness in its reporting, and OWS is no exception. Invariably there will be a few who echo their line of bullshit. But believe you me, the overwhelming number of these occupy events' members and protestors are quite savvy and really know the score. That is why I believe they will net some definite positive change from their efforts, despite all the media spin and misreporting. The fact of the matter is that the overwhelming number of voters firmly reject GOP trickle down economics, corporatism, and obstruction efforts in Congress. The public is not as stupid as the MSM and the Koch brothers think. Tea Party and conservative heads will deservedly roll in the next election.

Marching4Change said...

One thing I've always been baffled by is the Democrats' stubborn belief that a party somehow diminishes its election prospects if it becomes more partisan.
That certainly hasn't been the case for the GOP since 1980. The GOP continues to get more and more extreme far-right---and yet its election prospects today are brighter than ever.
Meanwhile, the Dems continue to cling to this bizarre fixation on moderation, "compromise," and mushy middle-of-the-road values. And where does all this politeness get them? Nothing. They get their ass kicked again and again as the GOP steamrolls them and gets everything it wants. (And don't assume that Obama will stand in their way as they dismantle the New Deal. From what we've seen of Obama thus far, he is a wimp who doesn't stand up for anything at all).
There are a lot of progressives out there who simply sit out election
after election because they can't bring themselves to vote for a bland, moderate, corporate party like the Dems. In fact, I'd suspect these true progressives outnumber the mushy moderates that today's Democratic party is apparently trying to appeal to.
You claim I'm not a "realist." But let's take a look at the real world for a minute. The GOP gets more and more extreme partisan year by year--and yet their election prospects are higher than ever. Tens of millions of Conservatives are chomping at the bit, orgasmically eager to vote out Obama in 2012. The GOP is more extreme than ever---and yet, I've never seen the Republicans I know personally more enthusiastic and supportive of their party than they are today).
Meanwhile, the mushy Dems refuse to stand up for anything and are a bunch of wimps. They're apparently trying to appeal to "moderates." But it's a strategy that has utterly failed since 1980.
I believe Einstein once wrote about those who continue to repeat the same actions over and over and expect different results.
Out here in the real world, staying true to your ideals and getting more partisan is not a recipe for election failure---in fact, it's the total opposite.
There are tens of millions of apolitical working people who'd enthusiastically get out and vote if they really thought the Dems gave a shit about them.

Infidel753 said...

I'm one person who was very unhappy and railing against the "kleptocracy" that we were seeing all through the '80s during the Reagan years, but I didn't notice many people raising any cain back then.

Most of the people at these protests look a lot younger even than that. I know people now who are old enough to vote who were born after the USSR broke up.

I worry less about the Occupiers being co-opted by the right than about them simply sputtering out for lack of a coherent platform and strategy.

The one hopeful sign I'd point to is that unions seem to be getting involved in a big way. With their more mature, pragmatic, and politically-savvy leadership, they could provide some much-needed guidance.

Manifesto Joe said...

Jack, I'm happy to know that folks like you are in this, and will give the movement the experience that it needs.

Infidel, excellent points.

Now on to Marching4Change:

I feel compelled to map out a history lesson here. This lesson goes back to a time when the Cold War was still hot, and the Vietnam War was actually still going on. (I have a draft card from the era -- I confess that I'm that old.)

In 1972, the Democratic Party nominated the man who was the last real, hardcore leftist that the Dems have run for president in recent times. His name was George McGovern. He's a most honorable man, a hero of WWII and an intellectual of the first order.

He got his ass kicked so badly, it resounds in the collective memory of the Democratic Party. He got less than 40% of the popular vote, losing to Richard Nixon, of all people (if he hadn't had a career as a politician, he would have made a great Western movie villain -- Black-Hat Bart, or such.)

In 1984, the Dems nominated someone a bit more centrist than McGovern -- former VP Walter Mondale -- and got their asses thoroughly kicked yet again. Reagan won 49 states, and 59% of the popular vote. In 1988, Mike Dukakis did a little better, winning 46% of the popular vote. He had good liberal credentials, but that didn't translate well in Middle America.

Bill Clinton, a "New Democrat," won 2 terms, despite a lot of personal baggage. I wasn't happy with a lot of what Clinton compromised on -- NAFTA, and the welfare "deform" law that is still in effect 15 years later. And the financial deregulation that he signed but now admits was a mistake, that also comes to mind. But he was better than the alternative.

Obama was the first "liberal" of good credentials to win the nomination, and the presidency. But he ran up against an American public that (1) was hostile to a black president, and (2) had such a conservative bias that even as a president who ultimately become a centrist compromiser, he couldn't put the biggest programs across.

I'm sorry to tell you this, but you are simply not dealing with reality, and sadly, many people in your movement are not. Obama waited far too late to get tougher, and now he's in a position sort of like a boxer who's so far behind on points that he's going to need a knockout to win.

But it looks as though what many of you are going to do is bust up the center-left coalition that got him elected, and deliver next year's elections up to the Republicans on a silver platter.

Expect (1) Roe v. Wade to be overturned; (2) privatization of Social Security to be not just debated, but most certainly on the way; and (3)Medicare and Medicaid will be phased out. Hell, they're already talking about all this stuff, in great detail. And speaking of wars -- one with Iran isn't out of the question with such people in power. And this would be a fucking disaster. The Iranian navy is good enough to close the Strait of Hormuz, and they've got one of the biggest populations of 20-something men in the world. That war will last 30 years, and gas prices will top $5 a gallon.

I love it that you and others are out there on the street. But I caution you, strongly -- don't think that there's no real difference between Dems and Republicans. You will have to find out about that the hard way.

Anonymous said...

Nice work Joe, that Yeats line was one of my favorites from Stephen King's "Gunslinger" series.


Marching4Change said...

As long as we're talking about history lessons, and about how U.S. voters supposedly are always rejecting Liberalism, let me remind you that the most Liberal president in U.S. history, FDR, was elected four times.

Yes, the U.S. voters chose Nixon over McGovern in 1972. But let's be clear: in choosing Nixon, the voters weren't exacting embracing what we'd called "Conservatism" today. In fact, by today's standards, Nixon was to the Far Left---way more progressive on domestic policy than Clinton or Obama. In fact, Nixon was the last real "Liberal" president we've had in this country.

Yes, in 1984, the voters handily rejected Mondale. But I think he was just a lousy, mediocre candidate. Ditto with Dukakis.

I believe Obama will go down in flames in 2012. But I don't think it'll have a goddamn thing to do with the "Occupy" movement. It'll have everything to do with the fact that Obama promised change in 2008 and flat-out lied on his promises.

Don't believe me? Go back and listen to his campaign speeches----it's a surreal experience. Yes, I realize that candidates often don't follow through on campaign promises. But with Obama, this phenomenon is so extreme that it's like listening to 2 completely different people. Obama never stood up to the GOP and he was a wimp. Frankly, Americans don't like wimps in the White House, Left or Right. Americans are even less enamored of liars.

I have no doubt the GOP will make moves to abolish Social Security and Medicare. I'm not so sure I dread this prosect. I've long thought the GOP will eventually over-reach. And when they do, they'll poison the GOP brand for a generation.

As far as war with Iran, I have to disagree. Yes, there are a lot of GOP chickenhawks, itching for a war. But the American Empire is bankrupt. We simply no longer have the money for big land wars. I believe the 2003 Iraq War marked America's last-ever big war. We may do a few small-scale Grenada-style police actions here and there in the future. And we'll continue to use drone attacks. But there will be no more Vietnams or Iraqs. Anyone who believes otherwise simply doesn't grasp just how completely broke America is today. We essentially became a Third World nation in September, 2008---we just haven't comes to terms with that reality yet.

Obama will go down in flames in 2012. And the corporate MSM will no doubt rush to blame the "failures" of "progressive" policies. But the great irony is that we never actually got to try any real progressive policies under Obama. Another great irony is this: if we had actually tried some progressive policies, the economy would likely be in decent shape now and Obama's re-election prospects would be much brighter.

If Obama loses in 2012, please don't be blaming a few thousand marchers. Blame Obama himself. He brought this entirely on himself. If he simply had at least made an honest effort to follow through on his campaign promises, he (and the nation) would be in much better shape now.

Manifesto Joe said...

"Marching," we could go on like this quite indefinitely, so I am going to post one more comment here before abandoning this thread.

You bring up FDR -- do you understand what a dramatically different country this was in that day? The joblessness we've seen in recent years was nothing compared to what it was when FDR took office -- it was nearly 25% in early '33. And in most of the country, there was no unemployment insurance, no food stamps, etc. I'm not sure even people of my generation can quite imagine this.

FDR was given a much larger majority in the Congress, at one point reaching about 3-1 in favor of his party. His first 100 days were legendary for what he was able to push through. Obama has had no such luxury, and even lost control of the House after less than 2 years. He was forced to play defense from the start. I understand that he needed to be tougher. I actually held my nose and voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary because I thought her Washington experience would serve her well. Obama is one of our more inexperienced presidents in terms of public office, and it has shown.

But you seem to think that since he hasn't been as advertised, we can afford to just let the Republicans have it? I'll repeat something that I mentioned before: A lot of people thought that Il Doofus (Bush 43) was such a moron that he wouldn't get a 2nd term. But he did, probably by larceny. Then, they said, as his approval ratings plunged down to the lowest on record (22%), that he'd ruined the Republican brand for a generation. Well, guess what! The goddamn Republicans are baaack, and poised to retake the Senate AND the White House.

In politics, when damage is done, it can last for 40 years or more. Obama isn't what I wanted, and unfortunately has turned out to be as green as I feared. But right now, he's what "we've" got, and if people like you manage to let the Republicans take control of this government one more time, the damage could be INDESCRIBEABLE.

You don't think they could or would wage a war on Iran? They've never let deficits stop them from doing anything before. The Chinese largely bankrolled the Iraq war. What makes you think they wouldn't find a way to finance yet another one? Ever read 1984? War's a great way to divert attention from other problems, and if you have dissidents, it's a good excuse to throw their asses into jail.

Well, enough. I won't respond to anything more. I need to move on to another post.

Manifesto Joe said...

Oh, sorry, one postscript, regarding Nixon. I just couldn't resist this one:

Tricky Dick was indeed a "center-left" Republican, at least by today's standards, on economic policy. He had grown up poor. "I am a Keynesian" he famously declared during an interview, much to the chagrin of the party righties.

But don't romanticize the paranoid dude who was perhaps the most mentally ill SOB who ever lived in the White House. He could have ended the Vietnam war at least 3 years before he did, under the same terms. He refused until he'd been re-elected. How many people, Vietnamese and American, died horrible deaths so that this MF could win a 2nd term?

He kept "enemies" lists, and his hit men in the FBI and such killed Black Panthers and others with impunity. These were not enemy combatants hiding out in Yemen. They were American citizens, living right here and trying to exercise political rights.

There's more (to quote "Deep Throat"), if you care to delve into it. I have other things to do. Keep studying your history!

Motivated In Ohio said...

Joe, you are right there is a danger of that happening. Fox is already spinning the propaganda. I hope we have enough sense not to buy that crap. I am sick of 30 years of Reaganomics and the mess it has left the country in.

Marching4Change said...

I will just say one final thing on this issue.
I suppose back in the 1960s, there were "moderates" who were urging the marchers to not take to the streets in fighting for civil rights. I suppose they said things like, "Don't be taking to the streets, you'll be dupes and we'll wind up losing Social Security."
Fortunately, the civil rights marchers went ahead anyway. They didn't wait for the government to take action. They didn't listen to the "go along to get along" moderates. They got out there and faced the police attack dogs, the tear gas, and the fire hoses.
And in the end, they were vindicated.
I believe the "Occupy" protesters will, in the end, be vindicated.
And what we're fighting for is no less important than what the protesters of the 60s opposed.
If you disagree, then you must be one of the dwindling lucky few with a middle-class job and a steady paycheck and your house hasn't been foreclosed on yet. If that's the case, then congrats---but don't think that your comfortable middle class life can't be snatched from you in the blink of an eye, like it already has been for millions of us.
Speaking of the 1930s, there's a tent city of homeless people not far from where I live. Maybe you could go down there and tell those folks that they really don't have it so bad and that things were worse in the 1930s. You could explain to them how cushy and comfortable life is for the poor in today's America. And since you think America has such lavish social programs for the poor, be sure to ask them why they're living in a tent city in the first place.

Manifesto Joe said...

Marching, I can tell that your heart is in the right place. Where your head is -- well, that may be another issue.

Re the 1960s civil-rights marchers: They were trying to get black people REGISTERED TO VOTE, and not for Republicans. It hadn't escaped their attention that LBJ, for all his warts, had signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Barry Goldwater voted against that law in the Senate, and campaigned against it in the 1964 presidential election.

Re the 1930s -- My mother isn't around anymore to describe firsthand the living conditions among the poor back then, but she survived a childhood that included both rickets and anemia from inadequate nutrition. There were no food stamps, and there was no unemployment insurance most places.

Even as meager as our social-safety net is today -- and I am all too aware of what would happen if I were to be laid off tomorrow (I'm a newspaper journalist) -- what I'm telling you is that SOMETHING is better than NOTHING.
You may get your chance to see the latter -- and soon.

Cletis L. Stump said...

Just want to say how much I enjoyed this thread.