It’s not that they’re rudderless, or that they have few defined principles. I think they do have defined principles, so that’s not my beef.
My thing is — they’re not radical enough.
Here’s an abridged list of demands (cobbled from various sources):
- Remove the influence of money in government, presumably by campaign-finance legislation (but see Citizens United?)
- Return to Glass-Steagall
- Raise taxes on the rich
- Raise taxes on corporations
- Eliminate corporate welfare
- Keep Medicare and Social Security benefits at current levels
By contrast, here’s a list of Tea Party demands:
- Identify constitutionality of every new law
- Reject emissions trading
- Demand a balanced federal budget
- Simplify the tax system
- Audit federal government agencies for waste and constitutionality
- Limit annual growth in federal spending
- Repeal the healthcare legislation passed on March 23, 2010
- Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above’ Energy Policy
- Reduce Earmarks
- Reduce Taxes
One of these agendas contains relatively sensible policy; one of them is totally bonkers. One group is essentially pushing for what was conservative U.S. policy as recently as the Bush I administration; the other group is pushing for a complete reimagining of the purpose of the federal government not seen since the New Deal (or possibly the Civil War). The problem is that the two are now being equated; in fact, the Tea Party is given more credence by the media because they’re old (and actually vote).
Instead of actually calling for radical things (say, nationalizing and breaking up the too-big-to-fail banks, or creating massive public works programs akin to the New Deal, or a financial transactions tax), the Occupy Wall Street movement is pushing for normal sensible policy.
If anything, this puts Obama further into a box; now he will want to appear as if his plan is not merely appeasing the protestors. If the Occupy Wall Street marks the radical position on the American left, we’re even more fucked than I thought.