One of the points raised in the TV discussion was the danger of co-optation by the White House. The movement fears that the Obama administration will try to change the movement into a push to get him re-elected, and co-opt them by endorsing their rhetoric. As Joan Walsh explained in the discussion, during the New Deal the reforms of the Second New Deal (Social Security, the Wagner Labor Relations Act, etc.) did not come handed down from above, but as a result of outside struggle which forced FDR to respond to the labor movement’s sit-down strikes and the like.
I have argued elsewhere that this traditional left-wing interpretation of the New Deal is in fact incorrect; that actually, the reforms were favored by the largest industrial corporations, which brought stability and predictability to a formerly hostile environment, and that for decades thereafter provided a mechanism in which increased productivity through war production and later from pent-up consumer demand benefited both the corporations and labor.
Put that aside for the moment. The Left believes, as Jones again explained, in a “bottom-up, top- down” strategy, which starts from outside pressure that will force a second Obama administration to engage in policies demanded by the forces of the organized sectarian Left. What these Leftists do not seem to recognize, however, is that if they indeed succeed in pulling off serious disruptions this Spring, as the campaign for president heats up, the effect will be to harm the chances of Obama’s re-election.
Look at how the president will have to view what will be infuriating to most of our country’s people. They will find it hard to get to work and have to face disruptions that will make their everyday life at work harder to get to and engage in. They will come to view the Occupiers with growing hostility, as they did when the OWS first camped out in Wall Street. If the president is forced to criticize them, it will hurt his ability to get these activists to campaign for him and take to the streets and go door to door. If he endorses them as speaking for the country and praises them for their attacks on the so-called one percent, he will alienate the middle and swing voters whose support he desperately needs. How he will straddle these two possibilities of response remains to be seen.
Jones explained that Occupy needs to get the president re-elected. His hope is that their actions will make the president be firm, agree to what they want, and propose legislation in his second term that acts upon their recommendations. He does not seem to understand, however, that the actions he proposes will most likely have the opposite effect that what he favors.
So, now we know what is in store. The coming months will give us new and annoying action by the folks that Ann Coulter rightfully calls the “mobs” in her wonderful book Demonic. As the description by the publisher puts it, “The Democratic Party activates mobs, depends on mobs, coddles mobs, publicizes and celebrates mobs — it is the mob.” Watching Jones talk, I wondered if he was trying to provide more evidence for Coulter’s thesis.
So as I prepare to soon leave for the second night’s Seder, where Jews celebrate a real legacy of our people who were forced to fight over and over for real freedom against actual tyrants, I will try my best to forget about and laugh off this morning’s discussion on Chris Hayes’ program.