Pop quiz: Who asked this question, "Is capitalism really about the ability of a handful of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of other people and walk off with the money?" Lenin? Lennon? Commissar Obama? Eugene Victor Debs? Wavy Gravy? (you will know how old you are in direct proportion to how many of these you can identify).
It was none of the above. It's yesterday's insight from Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and it is rich material indeed. Here are yesterday's responses to Newt...
The Out-of-Touch Republicans Defending Romney:
-- Rick Santorum: "I'm not making it a liability, I believe in the private sector."
-- Rush Limbaugh: Mr. Gingrich was "out of bounds for those who value the free market."
-- The Chairman of the Club for Growth, Chris Chocola, "disgusting."
Republicans Who Smell The Coffee:
-- Jon M. Huntsman Jr.: "It may be that [Romney's] slightly out of touch with the economic reality playing out in America right now."
-- Ron Paul: "The wealth is taken from the middle class and it goes to the select few, who are the insiders."
It seems that Occupy Wall Street has just landed in the middle of the New Hampshire primary, with the same kind of lasting impact it's having everywhere. Apparently leading Repulicans are willing to speak publicly about income inequality and the Wall St 1%ers. No longer are Republicans allowed to pretend that the real problem is the shackles we've put on Donald Trump, Enron and Bank of America.
Are you with the 99% or with the 1%? Leave it to the very smart Newt Gingrich to find the hole in the Romney facade and drive a truck through it.
This toothpaste won't go back into the tube. Republican voters know that their candidates became the Party of the Koch Brothers and Wall Street while the New Wave was creating itself at Zuccotti Park. No candidacy can succeed in today's America without addressing the questions of income inequality and power inequality that OWS defined and dramatized.
And this is just the beginning. If Gingrich is right on either the politics or the merits (and he is), then whole sections of the Republican catechism go out the window. Are financiers "job creators" or do we actually give that encomium to entrepreneurs, people with ideas and energy who build them into companies?
Should our tax code and our economic development policies remain fixated by supply-side subsidies to corporate America, or is it time to return to demand-side policies which help average people buy things and stimulate economic activity?
Is there an unwholesome connection between concentrated wealth and concentrated power that should offend a true conservative? Is a corporation really a person in the conservative world? If you scratch many a "social conservative" will you find the corporate apologist?
There's no end to where this debate takes the Republican Party and the nation. OWS wins again. Remember the critique that the movement didn't have an agenda? This is better than an agenda, it's a change in consciousness. Thanks, Newt.