My initial dislike of the OWS movement had a lot to do with the undeniable fact that many of the people taking part in the protests were the same youngsters who spent much of 2008 insisting that Barack Obama would be the Prog Messiah. These dupes inundated this blog (and all other left-leaning blogs) with vituperative comments and hallucinatory hero-worship. Some of them even issued death threats directed at yours truly.
I will never forgive or forget that behavior.
Now, we "premature anti-Obama liberals" face a problem. An Obama problem.
In the OWS movement, most people are well-and-truly fed up with our supercilious sell-out of a president. But some of the protesters still believe in him. These days, the few Obots left in America seem downright cute -- like kids who leave cookies out for Santa.
Many will argue that, as disappointing as Obama has been, he is still preferable to any Republican. Others will agree with my position: While Obama and Romney are more or less equivalent (and neither one of them would solve our economic troubles), Bachmann and Perry are so thoroughly vile and dangerous that they must be kept from the oval office at all costs -- even if the cost includes support for a miserable failure like Obama.
Then there will be those who insist on going the third party route. That, as I've argued in the past, is a delusion.
Quite a few of you are probably bursting at the seams right now, desperate to tell me: "But this movement isn't about partisan politics! It's about raising consciousness and awareness and establishing a New Age and heralding a We Century and proving how virtuous we can be by eating lots of tofu!"
If you want to give me that rap, please...just die
. Preferably in pain. I want no part of a "consciousness raising" exercise, and I don't care for tofu. I want to see a movement that gets practical things -- big things, but practical things -- done.
Face it. We're in election season. Partisan politics, and intra-partisan politics, are going to be part of the very air we breathe. That's just the way it is. Screw you and your fucking tofu. That's the way it is
So question number 1 is: Can people with diverse views on Obama work together?
Question number 2: How can the rebels keep the upper hand in working with Dems?
The libertarians who have tried to seduce the OWS movement continually warn the protesters not to work with Democratic politicians who express sympathy. To me, this is a signal that the OWS movement must work with Democratic politicians who express sympathy. Whatever the Randroids tell you to do, do the opposite: They are not your friends.
You will note that the Randroids did not tell the Tea Partiers to steer clear of Republican politicians. Instead, the 'bagger leaders forced those politicians to dance to their tune. "Mainstream" Republicans were primaried and replaced by Glenn Beckian kooks.
I used to receive Richard Viguerie's mass mailings to the tea partiers, and I saw how he did it. He was willing to work with politicians because (unlike many lefties) he did not just want to vent -- he wanted power
. Like it or not, power is how you get things done. Viguerie knew that the tea party would soon evaporate if it did not make an impact on governance.
Nevertheless, he constantly threatened to walk away from the Republican party.
It's like buying a new car. To get the price you want, you have to be willing to walk away from the dealership. On the other hand, if you're unwilling to enter the dealership in the first place, you'll never
get a car.
By all means, work with politicians. Just make sure that they
dance to your
tune instead of the other way 'round.On a related note:
As some of you may recall, back in the 1990s a certain piece of sociological pseudoscience -- first expressed in a book titled You Just Don't Understand
, by Deborah Tannen -- became popular. The meme held that when men talked about problems, they searched for pragmatic solutions, while women talked about their problems in order to express emotions and (get this) to establish "intimacy."
Tannen was full of crap. But for years, she convinced people that whining
was a legitimate communication style. Actually, whining is just whining. A certain amount of whining is a necessary part of life, and it is done by both men and women. But solutions are always preferable to whining.
I think the OWS movement can be viewed, metaphorically, in Tannen-vision. Is it going to be a whiners' party, or will it seek solutions? My feminist readers may be appalled by the way I am going to phrase this question, but I'll ask it anyways: Is the movement going to seek "intimacy" (as Tannen mis-defined that term) or will everyone "man up"?
That's why I offered the idea of going after Geithner -- not as a final step, but as a first step.
Many people responded to my suggestion without actually reading my piece (it was summarized in the NYT's "Opinionator" column). My critics usually argued that Obama would replace Geithner with someone worse. In my original post, I stipulated that very probability; nevertheless, I listed six reasons why the OWS-ers should seek his removal.
The most important reason is this: We need to get something done
The protesters must establish that theirs is a movement of do-ers, not whiners. Project "Ta-ta Timmy" would be an easy win, since nobody likes Tim Geithner these days. I doubt that even Geithner likes Geithner.
Let me draw a parallel to the career of that other French girl I love: Jeanne d'Arc -- Joan of Arc to you. (I presume that no feminist will object to this example.)
She had three main goals: First, to raise the siege at Orleans. Second: To get the Dauphin -- that is, her Prince -- crowned King in Reims cathedral, where the King-ing was traditionally done. Alas, she couldn't go directly to Reims because it was deep in English-held territory. Her third goal: To drive the English out of France altogether.
So she defeated the English at Orleans. That was her first big win -- not an easy win, but a necessary one. The initial victory made all the subsequent ones possible.
Then she drove her army toward Reims, conquering city after city across the Loire: Jargeau, Meung, Beaugency, Patay. When she reached Troyes, the enemy surrendered without a fight -- because by that time, the sound of her name made the bad guys soil their trousers. Finally, the Dauphin was crowned in the cathedral.
That's how you get things done
. First one battle, then the next, then the next. There could have been no Reims without Orleans.
I remain flabbergasted by the dolts who have told me that sacking Geithner would deflate the movement. That certainly wasn't Joan's experience! When she won at Orleans, people rallied to her cause. A solid victory has an exaltation effect on ordinary individuals. Victory, not venting, is what gives people hope.
We don't need any more vaguely virtuous tofu-eaters. Be like Joan.