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Joe Moreno Headshot

Read My Lips: No New Reagan Democrats

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I seemed to annoy a lot of people on Tuesday by Retweeting this NBC blog by Ted McClelland.

I agree with McClelland's point that the mic check by Occupy Chicago on Alderman Moore (one of the most progressive members of City Council) at a meeting last week was not a good decision. This kind of civil disobedience is likely to further entrench and enlarge a dislike for Occupy that I'm starting to sense and don't want to see.

A working class backlash against Occupy would be ruinous for the movement and for the country. An entire generation of Reagan Democrats was created by the Anti-Vietnam War movement, which often went too far and looked too hard for moral purity when, in reality, there's no such thing.

These Reagan Democrats (lately called the Tea Party) are disciples of Free Market Fundamentalism, and have unthinkingly voted against their own economic interests for decades. Largely persuaded by fake social issues, which government shouldn't have any say about, these voters gave us Reagan and Bush II. The two presidents who helped darken the American Dream into a delusion about materialism and corporatism. These Reagan Democrats are passionate devotees to a lie that has been propagated through clever advertising and an all-too-willing-to-oversimplify-everything media.

The good news is that Reagan Democrats are old news and their influence is fading... But the possibility of a new crop of young people being indoctrinated into Free Market Fundamentalism is terrifying.

Civil disobedience can work. It has before and is an effective tactic, if the target is correct. I don't think mic checking Ald. Moore (or any other Alderman) because he voted for the city budget is a good tactic... Everyone else in the room (and for anyone who sees the video) could easily conclude that Occupy thinks what they have to say is the most important and immediate thing -- more important than and separate from them.

The absolute worst thing that could happen for Occupy is the growth of the -- unfortunate and untrue -- perception that this movement is largely a bourgeoisie one.

I'm only writing this because I give a damn. It would be much easier to say nothing, but that's boring. I want Occupy to succeed (whatever success means) because so far their goals have been benevolent and utilitarian.

I do think that Occupy has to become involved in the political process to advance. Many articulate people don't share this opinion, but while focusing on the abstract and preservation of moral purity is sexy, it's not realistic. Cynicism is ugly, but it's also healthy... I humbly advise the people of Occupy, who I admire greatly, to rethink their targets and to stop wasting their time looking for moral purity because it can't be found.