It’s Monday, arguably the least-favorite day on the working calendar, for any American. I’m a weirdo, though. I like Monday. Monday always brings with it the promise of a fresh start, new gas in the tank, a brand new 7 days in which to get stuff done. Every Sunday night before I fall asleep I try to psych myself up — to go into the new week with energy and focus. On that note, I’m going to drop a quick post in the blog bucket, before I engage my lane for the day.
Tuesday ETA: having discussed the matter with David Brin, I am going to redact what I said in this space previously. I had been attempting to paraphrase him but neglected to confirm whether or not Mr. Brin believed the paraphrasing to be true and accurate. Which he did not, and in fact resented having words put in his mouth. Which is understandable. Apologies to Mr. Brin, who has been kind enough to accept my mea culpa on the matter.
Though Occupy Wall Street is nominally anti-Cronyist, they are not and never have been the so-called 99% that’s written into their slogans. If this really were a case of the 99% vs. the 1% then the “war” would be over already. Working Americans would have surrounded all of the state capitols, and the national capitol, and a lot of politicians would now be on the unemployment line. Working Americans understand that, as ugly as Wall Street corruption can be, it’s the corruption in the government which permits the corruption on Wall Street in the first place.
Also, working Americans are not and have never been rabidly anti-business, nor even anti-wealth. In positioning itself as an anti-capitalist, anti-rich movement, Occupy Wall Street has deafened the ears of its nominal allies. Every working American wants to earn what he keeps, and keep what he earns, and when the language of OWS becomes too “redistributive” even those who spit on Cronyism get a sour look on their faces, and keep their hands on their pockets. What working America wants is to see the Cronyists in the corporate world and the state world, divorced from each other. No more billion-dollar bail-outs for the proverbial money-changers in the temples. No more revolving doors between the halls of big government and the executive chairs of big business.
Working Americans also pride themselves for being Good Citizens who uphold and abide by the law. Especially the laws against vandalism and destruction of public property. I remember when I lived and worked in Seattle in 1999, the WTO riots made even a lot of Seattle’s run-of-the-mill liberals upset. There was a lot of wanton destruction that accompanied the WTO. A lot of senseless sound and fury, which ultimately signified nothing. And cost the tax-payers millions of dollars to repair, to say nothing of the disruption to work-a-day businesses. Marching and speaking your voice are all well and good, but the moment you begin defacing, vandalizing, breaking windows, etc, you’ve lost the faith of people who work for a living. And you’re liable to not get it back.
Finally, working America likes a clean, coherent, one-issue or very-few-issues platform. Smorgasboard or accretion platforms tend not to resonate, because invariably the more people you try to appease with inclusion, the more self-contradictory your position. And OWS has become nothing if not self-contradictory. Like the previously-mentioned WTO, it has become an all-protest for the all-protestors — professional complainers and recreational thrill-seekers for whom the “message” isn’t as important as making a spectacle, making trouble, or making a nuisance.
A couple of weeks ago I said on John Scalzi’s blog that I was hesitant to criticize OWS because I was, at my core, sympathetic. Cronyism is a *BIG* problem which has allowed some *BIG* problems to develop. If OWS had managed to keep its focus on Cronyism — and if OWS had correctly targeted the seat of government, instead of the seat of finance, I’d not be saying a word against them. Alas, OWS has become a diluted, generalized, contradictory, and increasingly dangerous and destructive operation that doesn’t have any more control over its “membership” than any other would-be anarchist-agitator group. If OWS has been poisoned by the so-called “Black Bloc” it’s because OWS willfully took on the language and the trappings of the perpetually aggrieved. Taking matters to the pols, as the much maligned Tea Party has done, was not terribly fashionable.
Better to try an Occupation of Everywhere, which — farce of farces — ends up going nowhere.
And now working America’s patience with OWS is growing thin. The camps are starting to be cleared. Not because Americans love fascism — but because Americans don’t put up with childish tantrums. OWS had a chance to latch onto the public imagination, and barring that sector of committed Leftists who really do follow a Marx-Alinsky playbook, OWS lost the public imagination. Through contradictory messaging and contradictory behavior. Through vandalism and rioting that seemed to target everything and nothing, everyone and no one. Through intra-party squabbles and porous policies that permit the accretion of the crazy, the derelict, the willfully miscreant, and the haphazardly criminal.
If OWS has an “image problem” with working America, don’t blame it on the media. Which has been and continues to be extraordinarily kind-hearted to OWS at almost every turn. Blame it on the fact that OWS chose to break faith with those it claims to champion — the clock-punchers of the universe. People who work real jobs and get real stuff done, and just want to go home to their families at night, flip on the TV and enjoy a few of the good things in life, and know that everyone in America plays by the same rules.
Right now, the Cronyists don’t play by the same rules — and working America is realizing this. But that doesn’t mean working America automatically has sympathy for street theater or tired and childish shenanigans.