The #OccupyWallStreet protests have legs. There's no doubt about it.
If you don't believe it, just take a look at the live feed some genius put on the web.
What you won't see is a bunch of angry, middle-aged folks -- some armed -- complaining about government. Instead, you have people, many young, who know something is wrong in America -- and want to make it right for everyone. It's joyful, and inclusive, and means no harm.
But I doubt that will hold, if only because your average Tea Party member agrees with the #OccupyWallStreet analysis -- that government has forgotten about its citizens and works instead for the guys who pay for their campaigns.
That the right will probably not recognize what they have in common with #OccupyWallStreet and attack it instead is too bad. There's an opportunity here for Americans to reach consensus and unite for the People, instead of a clutch of special interests.
But while I want that, what I expect is to hear talk radio rattle on about the dark forces behind #OccupyWallStreet -- George Soros, certainly, and any number of other figures from Hollywood and whatever so-called enemies of America come to their minds.
It's even possible that as the protests gain strength and attract more media attention, some right wingers will decide enough is enough, and begin counter-demonstrations that could take an ugly turn. Then, of course, they'll try to pin the blame on the kids.
In fairness to those right-wingers -- if in fact they appear -- most are sincere patriots who, just like the #OccupyWallStreet folks, know that something is wrong in America and want to bring it right. This is why they're so uncompromising; they honestly believe they're in a war for the soul of America. And let's face it -- if that's your premise, and you love your country, no self-respecting patriot could do anything else
The difference between these people on the right and the #OccupyWallStreet folks is that the people they trust have turned them into foot soldiers for their own purposes. And now that their tactics have scared the bejesus out of the country -- à la August's debt ceiling showdown -- many of them honestly seem to be at a loss to understand what happened, when they thought, as right wing voices insist, that they have the numbers, the guns, and God on their side.
Of course, they don't represent anything like a majority and have high negatives in many polls. But that shouldn't prevent Americans from understanding that these are people who want to do the right thing for their country.
Meanwhile, the nation's swing voters seem to be giving the economic and political facts a hard look, drawing sensible conclusions about where this is taking us and what should and shouldn't be done about it, and, from what I can tell, are coming down on the #OccupyWallStreet side.
As many of you may know, I live in Central New York. This, of course, is far from people who think they have the inside skinny on anything. And I've found that a genuine advantage in understanding what's really going on in the US.
So today, I was talking to the chimney sweep who came to fix my chimney. And he agreed with me that the right wing solutions bruited about not only aren't adequate to the scale of the problems we face, but don't even address the world we're moving into; that going forward, the challenge facing America isn't how to maximize individual liberty, but how to keep the lid on in a country that not only won't take care of people cast adrift -- by forces beyond their control -- but won't give them the opportunity to help themselves.
This, it seems to me, is what the #OccupyWallStreet folks are talking about when they chant that they're the 99 percent -- as opposed to the 1 percent that now owns pretty much everything. In other words, they're addressing the real concerns of real Americans. And that gives the movement, or whatever you call it, justification, a broad base, and strength.
The right-wing can cry class warfare all they want. In the long run, people don't support political ideas they can't justify, and if nothing else, America simply isn't a country that will tolerate the sort of mean-spirited policies the right has been trying to sell us lo these 30 years. They could put them over when everybody thought they were getting rich, but now, not so much.
Look at it another way: I think #OccupyWallStreet has history on its side, and that the right, as the Chinese say, has lost the Mandate of Heaven. If the #OccupyWallStreet people can make their case the right way, they could make the coming election about the 99 percent.
And that would be a good thing.
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