I think it is critical to spread the word of where Occupy Wall Street came from, because as it gains momentum, we are seeing many political groups trying to bend it to their wills.
Occupy Wall Street began as a single-issue protest. It started when Adbusters posted a message suggesting a protest whose central demand is that President Obama “ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington.” This is a broad-based demand that should (and did) unite people on all sides of the political spectrum, from ultra-Liberals to Tea Partiers. In fact, as many point out, the target of the rage should be Washington as much as Wall Street.
Now, we are seeing lists of “demands” from a variety of parties who claim to speak for the few thousand people participating in the protests. I am very skeptical of anybody who claims to speak for this group. The lists of demands – several have been floated, all quite different – range from fairly specific legislative proposals to more whacko rantings of ultra-leftists.
And the groups which have stepped in to participate all have their own unique agendas. Labor unions, for example, are supporting the cause – which is ironic, since labor unions definitely are part of “the influence that money has over our representatives in Washington.” What’s next, support from Exxon?
What really got me suspicious was when I found out that MoveOn.org was supporting the cause. In 1998 I joined Wes Boyd and MoveOn.org because it claimed to be an issues advocacy group focused on ending the impeachment of Bill Clinton. I was no big fan of Clinton, but I was furious about the impeachment and its resultant waste and misdirected politics. But instead of being a single-issue group focused on “moving on” from the impeachment, MoveOn.org was instead a PAC raising money for the Democrats.
Lo and behold, I had apparently signed up as a card-carrying member of the left wing of the Democratic party. That was hardly my intent. I just wanted the Republicans to get back to the business of the Contract for America and off the stupid and wasteful impeachment proceedings. I had been co-opted by a so-called “issue group” into a PAC for the Democratic party. Likewise, I suspect a lot of people occupying Wall Street are probably rather surprised at the demands that “they” are now supposedly advocating.
That’s what happens when a movement gains steam – people get out in front of it and try to use it for their own purposes.
So ask yourself: how can labor unions and MoveOn.org be in support of “ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington” – they _are_ “the influence money has over our representatives in Washington!”
One of two things has happened / is happening. Either
- The entire Occupy Wall Street protest was intentionally organized by Adbusters to tap into the general anger and then co-opt the group into a hard-left movement, or
- Seeing the success of the protest, a bunch of hard-left activists are trying to co-opt the original goal of “ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington.”