As part of the 99%, I am a little sad but completely unsurprised to see that it’s been confirmed: the Occupy Wall Street movement is effectively dead. As sympathetic as I was to much of its sentiment–the way government has allowed massive publicly-traded corporations to pretty much control our lives and our destinies, in countless ways both visible and invisible, something should be done. The problem being, the “Occupy” movement always lacked that crucial thing: “something,” as in, a specific, coherent agenda, a plan, and leadership with message discipline. As I’ve said many times, to the bristling anger of some Occupy supporters but which I still nonetheless believe to be true: emotional energy tied to incoherence and not taking showers does not an effective movement make.
I was also bemused this last year to see lefty/liberals who were absolutely convinced that the “Occupy” movement was going to be Mitt Romney’s undoing. Foolishness. The Occupy movement, in its incoherence and its disruptions-without-apparent-purpose and its frequent attacks on working-class beat cops (even if some beat cops sometimes attacked protestors, cops still have a lot of public respect and sympathy for the tough working class blue collar jobs they do) only alienated large segments of the populace who would otherwise have been sympathetic. A loud, ongoing movement of millions of disorganized, chaotic rabble, many of whom probably aren’t even voters, would give Mitt Romney a club to attack Obama with. Indeed, Obama would almost certainly have been forced to strongly criticize and possibly even lash out against the Occupy people, as happened at the 1968 Democratic National Convention where prominent Democrats, even anti-war Democrats, were forced to scathingly attack the anti-war protestors outside. Indeed, even though the “Occupy” movement has disintegrated to almost complete irrelevance, uber-liberal Elizabeth Warren is being tarred with the Occupy movement by her Republican opponents:
By the way, if I lived in Massachusetts, I would probably vote for Warren. Irrelevant. The damage the “Occupy” movement caused is undeniable in my view. Even in ultra-liberal Massachusetts, the incoherent “Occupy” crowd alienated many people and are a potentially effective weapon against the Democratic Senatorial hopeful there. Nationwide, an “Occupy” movement that was still carrying on the way they were last year would have been potentially devastating for Obama.
Of course, the fact that Obama is himself a pet of the megacorporations (yes I’ll vote for him but I didn’t say I love the man) is also part of the problem there: the “Occupy” incoherents were offensive to the big-monied interests who back Obama as much as they were offensive to the big-monied backers of Romney. Which would have made it even more necessary for Obama to attack them, if they hadn’t already dissolved from their own incoherency.
It was a tremendous waste: all that energy, all that passion, if it had been focused on a coherent agenda around a leadership that possessed that little thing called “message discipline,” might have forced one or both of America’s two major parties to change. In the end, however, it was much sound and fury, signifying nothing but peevishness.
I sincerely hope that those who were involved in this “Occupy” movement learn from this, and come back with a better strategy and better prepared in years to come. I hope.
(This item cross-posted to Dean’s World.)
Dean Esmay is the author of Methuselah’s Daughter. He has contributed to Dean’s World, Huffington Post, A Voice for Men, Pajamas Media. Neither left nor right wing, neither libertarian nor socialist.