The Occupy Wall Street and Oct 6 protests are positive, in that they raise awareness, but it’s hard to see how to leverage them for significant gains at the polls. They may cause Republicans to lose some races in 2012 — which is a positive step. And they may allow President Obama and other “centrist” Democrats to ride the wave of populist outrage. But will the protests result in the election of more progressives to state legislatures and Congress? Will they lead to reform of the Democratic Party?
What worries me is that while Tea Party activists leveraged their anger and made huge electoral gains, largely taking over the GOP, progressives seem unable to make significant gains in reforming the Democratic Party or electing progressives to office. Am I correct?
Perhaps the aim of the Occupy protests is to cause sufficient civil unrest to force a crisis of governance. That would be both tough to pull off, and potentially devastating to the economy. (Heck, many Republicans want the economy and the government to fail.) Such a crisis could provoke a right wing backlash.
In other words, perhaps the protests reflect a failure of electoral politics. The protesters realize they have little chance of achieving their aims at the ballot box, presumably due to the influence of money on politics. So they take to the streets.
Meanwhile, Republicans are busy gerrymandering and writing laws to suppress voter turnout.
I often wonder whether progressives need to start putting more energy into taking over the Democratic Party than they put into protesting and joining advocacy groups.
Tea Party activists, like the social conservatives before them, fought hard to take over the GOP and kick out moderates. But the GOP was flexible enough to allow that to happen. On the Left, it seems that progressives have had less success at taking over the Democratic Party. Are progressives less persistent? Just less funded (no Koch money)? Is the Democratic Party more stubborn, entrenched, or corrupted?
Addendum: George Matkovits responded, “It is only the Union Movement which has any chance of guiding it by example! A few You-Tube speeches by AFL-CIO President Trumka, or Senator Sanders, on various subjects could be very helpful, like taxes, re-industrialization of the USA along the high-technology German example,, what Social Security and Universal Medicare are about, how the financial industry could be further repaired beyond Dodd-Frank, how the Union movement could be strengthened, etc..”
I’ve heard others voice similar thoughts: that only the Unions have enough organization and power to lead a progressive revival. You’d hope that (moderate and liberal) religious organizations, as well as academics, would be on board as well.
I think there ARE plenty of moderate and liberal Americans who agree with progressives. The question is: how to organize them?
If it weren’t for the issues of abortion and gays, you’d expect a lot more religious people to support progressives. Sigh.