The other reason to doubt whether Occupy Wall Street will become a tea-party movement of the left is its fixation on protest. But Zuccotti Park is not Tahrir Square and America is not Egypt. It is not even France. In France street demos are tolerated, sometimes glorified, as a way to blow off steam and win the attention of deputies who neglect voters or forget their election promises.
America is different. It is, indeed, the sort of democracy that some people in Tahrir Square lost their lives asking for. With endless elections and permanent campaigns, it is exquisitely sensitive to voters’ wants.
The tea-partiers grasped all this. They, too, took to the streets. Some strutted about in tricorn hats. But at the same time they learned their way around the machinery of elections and how to scare the bejesus out of any candidate they did not like.
…what it may perhaps lack is a complete understanding of how American political demographics could get in the way of any solution. Specifically, ideological demographics. Polling has consistently seen (Gallup, Pew/Pew, Rasmussen) that conservatives outnumber liberals in this country by about a two-to-one ratio (which is a reality that you simply have to accept*). Couple that with a badly-skewed urban/suburban ratio of reliable Democratic/liberal supporters, and you can see why the Tea Party was generally unaffected by the disapproval of the Left; most of our electoral fights were in places where the Left just didn’t have the strength to handle a motivated and energetic Right.
So. Now the Occupy Wall Street people want to duplicate the Tea Party’s success… but they have two major structural problems. The first is the demographic ratio mentioned above; which inexorably leads to the second problem, which is that the Left is simply more vulnerable to criticism than is the Right. When you’re trying to bring in the moderates, and your side needs to get 75% of them to win elections and the other side only needs to get 25%, being successfully mocked simply hurts you more. The moreso when it’s accurate mocking. I mean, there’s a reason why liberals only make up 20% of the electorate. People don’t like nosy busybodies with an attitude getting into their business**.
Solutions for the Left? I recommend that they try suffering with dignity. Or not; their dissatisfaction with the karmic backlash to their actions is not my problem, either way. The truly ironic bit? Occupy Wall Street’s only viable path to relevancy would involve linking up with the Tea Party populists and presenting an united front. Unfortunately for OWS, their typical member has spent the last three years attacking Tea Partiers on behest of the Democratic party, usually via the charming media of gay-baiting sexual slurs. Funny thing about the American middle class, particularly the ones that vote Republican; they don’t react well to condescending abuse by self-appointed, sneering ‘elitists’…
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*Democrats certainly do: that’s why their default electoral strategy is to frighten enough moderates to not line up with the scary, scary conservatives. They don’t have enough natural support to really trust in running positive campaigns based on their ideals and principles.
**And now you know why liberals love to yell about social conservatives, in precisely those terms. Whether you agree with the characterization or not, you do have to admit that ‘nosy busybody’ is how so-cons are usually portrayed by the Left.