“Mainstreaming” the Wall Street Protests

Posted on October 7, 2011 by

Progressive organizers and “thought-leaders” are working quickly and smartly to focus and frame the message of the Wall Street protests. 

To blunt the notion that these demonstrations are “radical,” labor unions have done a good job “mainstreaming” the issues.

That’s why I wasn’t too deflated by Barack Obama’s press conference reply on the protests that he’s “seen it on television” and understands the “frustration” over “how our financial system works.” 

We already know about the president’s inability to channel populist sentiment but we don’t need him to lead this parade. 

Overall, I’m feeling hopeful but that’s dangerous. 

The occupation of the Wisconsin statehouse six months was certainly inspiring.  And it appeared to boost the idea that – here in America – “collective bargaining” is a right. 

Then the national narrative seemed to gravitate back toward conservatism.  The debt ceiling “crisis” nearly killed me. 

So now again we’re excited by the prospect of a progressive insurgency.  I’m confident that my friends and colleagues on the left know how to take advantage of favorable circumstances. 

I’ve also spent the last several decades watching reactionary forces overpower our best efforts to bring economic fairness to Americans. 

But I suspect there’s a great opportunity here and that the next few weeks are pivotal.

Comments (7)


  1. DK McLeod says:

    Yes, but just visit, and read, the “Mud Line” ticker on the Doonesbury site to get a sense of the Ann Coulter/Russ Limbaugh/H. Cain solid party line for the counter-attack: It’s like something out of Nixon people the 1960s (yes, they are still fighting those culture wars)” “Sunken-chested, pierced” hippies “fighting the police for fun” (Coulter), “rabble” (Lowry), etc..What do we want? We want equality before the law (a government truly of laws, not men), and that means a perp walk for dozens, if not hundreds, of these “malefactors of great wealth” (Paul Krugman reminds us of the phrase in yesterday’s NY Times column) on Wall St.

  2. Jerry says:

    Good piece!

  3. Jenya says:

    Good: Obama has ‘seen the protests on television’ and ‘it’s OK – we don’t need him to lead this parade. Yes – I for one am not sad if he keeps his distance!

  4. john says:

    I think some old hippies were at the encampment. They were gray haired and trimmed.

  5. carlos barnett says:

    The revolution will not be televised. It’s time for all of you to get off the sofa and from behide your I-phones and go see and become part of this great action. You can not count on Obama or any one else. If you want to stop this clubocracy and have true Separation of Corporation and State get out there!

  6. John Connolly says:

    Even though (Happily!) the Occupy Wall Streeters include folks of my generation (The ’60s Radicals), and (Proudly) a healthy injection of savvy trade union militants in support, the really great news is that the Occupy Wall Street (et al) movement is mainly populated and led by young people of THIS generation.

    It is also fascinating (and terrifying to mainstream Dems) that the OWLs refuse to be cornered into simply being the latest expendable “Street Heat for the Democratic Party “, as the indispensable Naomi Klein so brilliantly put it on Chris Heyes MSNBC show “Up” this morning. BTW: CHECK OUT THIS SHOW!

    The small-ish but effectively disciplined Marxist organizations of the 60s, 70s and 80s were able to play social roles far out of proportion to their numbers in putting a mass progressive movement into the street, and garnering some social/political leverage against the Right.
    (This mass movement also set the stage, and provided many of the leaders for, the Better-Late-Than-Never revival of the Labor Movement).

    Now that most of those Left organizations have collapsed from the implosion of Stalinism, the exposed sham of Maoism, and the embarrassing cultification of Trotskyism in the US, our young neo-anarchist comrades of OWL have picked up the torch of mass action and clarifying the moral high ground.

    And with a little bit of luck and lots of continued smarts, maybe they’ll be able to avoid being cornered and co-opted, and maintain their important independence in re-establishing the moral authority and attractiveness of The Left as leadership for the 99%ers — the Working Class of an America in crisis.

  7. Gavin Koon says:

    Not surprised by the Wall Strret protests. Given the rising gap in rich/poor and the greed involved. Just look at CEO rising salaries and record profits at wall street. Not too exceted by republiian thoughts to just reduce taxes , reduce government, and reduce regulation. Isn’t that how we got here in this finanicial mess?

    If anything a balance to the Tea Party noise is refreshing. I hope it continues and moves into something that has more impact. Matters such as jobs….

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