Opinionated @ CFE

Occupy Wall Street and Missed Opportunities

Oct
05

Right now, large protests are going on in New York City and are starting to spread to other cities. People fed up with being out of work, with losing their homes, and with the powerful interests who caused the problem getting all kinds of favors have hit their breaking point. After a few years of changing out the bums in Congress (I won’t go so far as to say they were thrown out), they have no faith left in the political system to resolve their problems. And yet, somehow, the reform-minded economic right has completely blown the opportunity to sell their solutions.

What are many of them doing? For the most part, they’re busy insulting the protesters. The endless barrage of jokes about worthless liberal arts degrees, living in mom’s basement, and not showering are a sophomoric and demeaning way to reply to anyone who is suffering. In contrast, the left is out there standing in solidarity selling the illogical idea that the government that caused and perpetuates the problem can somehow fix it. If you were one of those people, who would you be listening to?

This is a missed opportunity to push for the destruction of crony capitalism and the decentralization of public and private power that creates and reinforces it. People are angry for the right reasons. Banks got trillions of dollars for destroying the economy so that they can now foreclose on the people to whom they fraudulently sold bad mortgages. Colleges are calling loans on degrees they’ve been hyping, overselling, and over-pricing for decades, a collusion across an entire industry. Congress is continually passing laws with no relevance to the problems of the common man despite having been significantly turned over in the last several elections. It’s the perfect storm to finally dismantle the systems that are killing the country.

By blowing this opportunity and engaging in tone-deaf messaging, you can almost bet that the solutions will be more of the same. More regulation that will be manipulated to create winners and losers. More ruinous over-spending on programs that promote dependency instead of independence. More members of Congress who say they feel our pain but simply create it. I suppose I shouldn’t expect any better from the guys who have been promoting the low-information tea party.

The Rise and Fall of the Tea Party

Sep
16

I’m not a fan of the Tea Party and haven’t been for some time. As Jon Stewart put it, most of them are moral majoritarians in tri-tipped hats. It’s hard to see how they differ from the Ralph Reed disciples that stormed into the Republican Party in 1994. That said, it seems like what has become just a mouthpiece for the more outrageous elements of the GOP had some roots in something worthwhile. It’s just been thoroughly co-opted by the establishment for their own purposes.

So how did it all start? Way back in mid-2008, Ron Paul’s campaign for president was winding down and the newly energized campaign volunteers were still all kinds of riled up. They were sick of the constant centralization of both government and economic power, and sickened by the power structure of the parties that only allows “annointed” candidates to advance to elections. A coalition of libertarians, fiscal conservatives, and reformers were ready to challenge any and all party structures that did business as usual. So what happened?

Well, those in power in the parties didn’t get there by being stupid. They saw the wave coming and knew they had to nip that sucker in the bud, and what better way than pulling a reverse infiltration? Almost immediately, the same people who had been a part of the problem started loudly singing the praises of the Tea Party, carefully steering it into an attack dog of the Republican Party, not a near-partyless populist mob demanding more from everyone. In Utah, the problem was particularly bad as the organizers chose to invite elected officials to come speak to crowds, hardly the kind of thing a reform movement should want. It only took weeks or months to quell the uprising and get the media to label the newly-formed beast as a group of angry zealots  whose rage was fueled by racism, misogyny, xenophobia, or whatever ugly thing could be attached to it.

What got botched was a trans-partisan populist movement to fight against centralization of power, public and private, that has lead to rampant crony capitalism, impenetrable political party power structures that exclude any kind of insurgent candidates from the process, and the reigning in of an out-of-control pattern of federal spending perpetuated by both parties. All of these are laudable and arguably popular goals. Unfortunately, they’ve been buried under a mountain of far-right social neo-conservatism with a very narrow appeal, obviously explaining the precipitous drop in popularity among the general populace.

Is there any hope for these much needed reforms to happen anytime in the near future? Maybe. It depends on if the lightning in a bottle during the first few weeks can be recreated, or if the original reformers have stuck around now that the real work begins.. Otherwise, I expect the same old story.

Bad Behavior has blocked 109 access attempts in the last 7 days.