Is a New Movement in American Politics Being Born?

I have been thinking about whether or not the Wall Street Protests now spreading nation wide are the beginning of a significant turning point in American history.

I believe the answer is “probably.” I would prefer a ringing “Yes, this is it!” but after the Obama campaign of 2008, I have lost faith in what are supposed to historical turning points. In that case, we elected a leader who promised real change but who turned out to be a pitiful caricature of his promises. I remember reading Will Durant, an essay he wrote after he felt the disappointment of Woodrow Wilson’s Administration. The Progressives, Durant among them, came out and fought for Wilson’s election only to find he had only limited use for them and their policies. He wrote that you can’t place dependence on any one man when you are part of a political movement. I forgot that lesson of history during the 2008 election. I promise I will not be so foolish again.

But this new movement has several things going for it. One is timing. The United States is suffering under a recession which is highly likely to turn into a full scale depression with the big D. The people of this country who are witnessing the day to day collapse of small businesses, they personally out of work or having direct knowledge of their friends and family out of work are not beguiled by the word of record corporate profits. That money does not flow to them and they are well aware of it. (You are aware the bottom 50% of the citizens of our great democracy have 2.5% of the wealth?)

My local paper is replete with stories of how the real estate market has turned or will turn around – all this while a rational person watches housing prices continue to fall. The local real estate captive paper is more useful for training a dog than as a provider of useful information.

Another thing the movement has going for it is the ability to use the new media effectively. I use a desktop computer and that is the end of my desire for electronics. I don’t want to be communicated with all the time. I like my privacy. But these individuals are quite clever with these new devices using them in a manner more advanced than those who advocated change this Spring in the Middle East and China. They have an amazing web presence.

My third and last reason for the movement’s likely success is the international political climate. The neoliberals of the Chicago School of Economics have been driven from South America and their policies found to be the height of madness and lunacy in Ireland and Iceland. The great philosophical adventure of free market absolutism is dying although I am well aware this beast of prey still has teeth to harm the middle class and poor. Their corporate support is unabated and the money they continue to receive from the looney billionaires who feel oppressed will continue. But being repudiated in much of the world is going to cause the movement many problems most of them long term.

So, I have some hope and a little faith. This may be a turning point in American politics.

James Pilant

Sara Kenigsberg writing in the Huffington Post has a new article:

Occupy Wall Street Protests Ignite Progressive Political Fire In Washington

Leaders at the conference also pressed progressives to focus their energy beyond Obama, highlighting broad dissatisfaction with an administration that has repeatedly derided liberals, dismissing many of the activists present at the conference as “the professional left.” The message from progressive leaders — who included Jones, economist Robert Reich and The Nation publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel, among others — was clear: Neither political party in Washington is listening to working Americans struggling through the worst recession since the Great Depression. Progressives will have to continue hosting events like Occupy Wall Street that bring voters into the streets and pressure political leaders to take action on the jobs crisis. Progressive members of Congress have already taken note, with the Progressive Caucus — the largest alliance of House liberals — endorsing Occupy Wall Street amid the conference cheerleading.

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