Monday, October 10, 2011

The Wall Street Occupiers and the Democratic Party

From AlterNet, former Clinton administration Secretary of Labor Robert Reich:

But if Occupy Wall Street coalesces into something like a real movement, the Democratic Party may have more difficulty digesting it than the GOP has had with the Tea Party.

After all, a big share of both parties’ campaign funds comes from the Street and corporate board rooms. The Street and corporate America also have hordes of public-relations flacks and armies of lobbyists to do their bidding – not to mention the unfathomably deep pockets of the Koch Brothers and Dick Armey’s and Karl Rove’s SuperPACs. Even if the Occupiers have access to some union money, it’s hardly a match.

Yet the real difficulty lies deeper.


Barack Obama is many things but he is as far from left-wing populism as any Democratic president in modern history. True, he once had the temerity to berate “fat cats” on Wall Street, but that remark was the exception – and subsequently caused him endless problems on the Street.

To the contrary, Obama has been extraordinarily solicitous of Wall Street and big business – making Timothy Geithner Treasury Secretary and de facto ambassador from the Street; seeing to it that Bush’s Fed appointee, Ben Bernanke, got another term; and appointing GE Chair Jeffrey Immelt to head his jobs council.

Most tellingly, it was President Obama’s unwillingness to place conditions on the bailout of Wall Street – not demanding, for example, that the banks reorganize the mortgages of distressed homeowners, and that they accept the resurrection of the Glass-Steagall Act, as conditions for getting hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars – that contributed to the new populist insurrection.

More here.

And this is precisely why there is such a thing as Occupy Wall Street. The formal structure and functioning of our democratic republic has failed. There is now no compelling voice in the Congress, on the Supreme Court, or in the White House to articulate the reality that Big Money has taken near total control--indeed, there is no voice because they're all working for the interests of the super-rich and corporations. So, when formal democracy has failed, the only solution is to force a democracy of the people, out in the street, messy, leaderless, persistent, loud.

Even though the movement is clearly gaining momentum, its amount of staying power remains to be seen. If Occupy Wall Street can survive over the long term, however, if it can keep demonstrators in the streets for many months to come, can resist being co-opted by the unions and big liberal institutions, there must necessarily be a showdown with the Democratic Party. Indeed, such a confrontation would be, ultimately, what the entire movement is about. Everybody knows the Republicans are the party of big business: the Democrats, on the other hand, have become the housewife whores of American politics, pretending to be caring and nurturing paragons of virtue in public, while sucking cocks of depraved rich men for money behind closed doors. If the movement can unmask for all to see the wanton sleazy trash that is the Democratic Party, I'd say they will have won something of a major victory.