Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Good advice to Democrats


Among the tidal wave of articles on Occupy Wall Street, one stands out for me: advice from OWS to the national Democratic Party. Written on the Truthout website on October 21st by J.A. Myerson, himself an occupier, it urges the Dems to, literally, cave in to the movement.

"Dear Democartic Party," he writes, "Cave into pressure from us. Do it. Go whole hog with it. Now is your moment. You have never had the type of political cover you have now, and you never will again. Stick a big middle finger up in the direction of Wall Street, fire your revolving-door-begotten stafers, declare yourself now and forever the party of working people, and be done with it."

This is brilliant. In effect, it anticipates the abuse Democrats will take (actually, already have taken) from the right, and urges them to embrace the abuse, much the way African Americans were urged in the civil rights movement to embrace the "abusive" term Black; much the way gay people were urged to embrace the "abusive" term Queer. It's telling the Dems to say, in effect, Yes, we've "caved in"--that is, really embraced, the legitimate message expressed again and again, by so many different people, by so many disparate means--by so many Americans--involved in OWS.

To be sure, some Democrats appear to be taking baby steps in that direction. According to The Observer, an e-mail sent out recently by the Democratic congressional campaign committee is seeking signatures on a petition backing OWS. And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is reported to have said that the "message of the American people is that no longer will the recklessness of some on Wall Streeet cause massive joblessness on Main Street." But many more Dems need to shed their banker benefactors and openly declare their support. And, I would add, shout "Shame" on those who do not.
Doing so would allow the Democratic Party to appeal to a growing base. At present, according to a recent CBS/New York Times Poll, forty-three percent of Americans  already suport this spanking new uprising. In the history of American social movements, this is astounding for a brand new one that seems to have arisen from nowhere a few weeks ago, yet is spreading rapdily around the country and overseas. It is especially noteworthy given the mainstream media's relentless portrayal of OWS as an inchoate group of malcontents who are so disorganized that they cannot come up with a single "demand."

For those--including avid supporters and more-or-less sympathizers--who are nevertheless disconcerted by the absence of a finely tuned set of microscopic demands, check out Matt Taibbi's suggestions:

1) Break  up the monopolies
2) [Make Wall Street] pay for [its] own bailouts. A tax of 0.1 percent on all trades of stocks and bonds and a 0.01 percent tax on all trades of derivatives would generate enough revenue to pay us back for the bailouts, and still have plenty left over to fight the deficits the banks claim to be so worried about.
3) No public money for private lobbying.
4) Tax hedge-fund gamblers.
5) Change the way bankers get paid. We need new laws preventing wall Street executives from getting bonuses upfront for deals that might blow up in all our faces later.

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