Thursday, May 17, 2012

OWS and the Wisconsin Recall should try tea...

With the Wisconsin Recall Election now less than a month away--it's scheduled for June 5th--one things seems pretty clear: it's been a colossal waste of time. Governor Scott Walker is facing a rematch with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. In the previous contest, the gubernatorial race of 2010, Walker won with around 52% of the vote, with Barrett getting around 47%. Nothing much has changed. Recent polls show Walker with anywhere from a four to nine percentage point lead, with the RCP average coming in at 6%. Pretty much on target for a repeat of 2010, it would seem.

Meanwhile, over in Zuccotti Park, things are quiet. Sure, there were attempts to reoccupy it, but the City has clearly had enough, as the OWS movement has cost the City some $17 million in overtime pay. Sporadic protests and gatherings continue elsewhere, but to what end ? People aren't paying attention, by and large. And that's probably because the movement has nothing to point to, no tangible successes in terms of policy that it can claim.

Remember the last couple of months in 2011? The OWS was all over the news. People involved in it thought they were truly the vanguard of a revolution that would sweep through the nation, the world. And earlier in 2011--from February to June--there was protest rally after protest rally in Wisconsin, opposing Walker, opposing the Collective Bargaining Bill, opposing the State Supreme Court's decision, opposing pretty much anything that could be linked to Walker. These things dominated the news, dominated the political punditry for the great majority of the year. They were--the OWS movement and the Wisconsin protests--Big Things. Meaningful Things. Evidence of Something Important.

As the new year arrived, the OWS crowds vowed to continue indefinitely, to force an "American Spring." In Wisconsin, the protesters vowed to get rid of Governor Walker via a recall election. And 2012 began with those promises in the news, with left-leaning pundits certain of their critical importance. There was naked speculation on the import of the OWS movement, how it was like the Tea Party (though of course far superior and more significant). The Wisconsin recall was supposed to upend the status quo, to prove that the people still had the power.

Yet, here we are. Not even half way through the year and where are these two "critical moments"? What successes can they claim? Well, the Wisconsin Recall effort has successfully lined the pockets of many a political consultant and ad firm, as millions and millions of dollars have been spent in that State in preparation for an election that is likely to be nothing but a big waste of time. The OWS movement has successfully annoyed a lot of people and added a couple of new phrases to the political lexicon: "the 99%" and the "1%." That's about it.

Meanwhile, the Tea Party--proclaimed as essentially dead by liberals and progressives--is ratcheting back up into campaign mode. Most recently, adherents successfully unseated another career politician: Dick Lugar in Indiana. The mainstream media, despite its plethora of highly educated, deeply knowledgeable journalists, can't seem to get a handle on this. Witness this bit at CNN from last month. Asking the question "Is the (Tea) Party over," the author looks at Romney's successful bid as the primary evidence for his implied answer.

And that's just stupid. Sorry, but it is. The Tea Party movement--like the OWS movement and the Recall effort--was born of grass roots. The Recall effort, of course, has been co-opted by labor unions and politicos. OWS remains--like the Tea Party--grass roots. The difference between the two is that the Tea Party movement is not based on utopian flights of fancy. It's defining elements--limited government and fiscal responsibility--are grounded in the American Experience, thus resonating with more people and providing actual opportunities at the ballot box, something the OWS movement just can't do.

And that's the truth of it, right there. Tea Party supporters can have short-term achievable goals, like electing local and state-level politicians (something they did on an historic scale in 2010, though this is largely ignored by the mainstream media). And it's supporters can coalesce around national leaders, provided those leaders are worthy, as they did for Marco Rubio.

Thus, as the 2012 Elections draw near, the Tea Party rises again. The Recall effort goes nowhere, and the OWS movement fades, awaiting another prolonged period of boredom to garner some attention.

Cheers, all.


  1. The truth of it is that the Tea Party has organized the correct way, politically, creating PACs and putting forth candidates. They have a defined agenda and they're working toward it. The OWS, well, honestly, I've never gotten a handle on it. What do they want? It seems at any OWS gathering, there are dozens of signs, dozens of voices, all wanting something different. There is no cohesive message, they're just complaining without direction. And because of the protests in parks, on bridges, and such, they're inconveniencing the people who they most want to influence, losing sympathy and support by Joe Sixpack.

    And Wisconsin's protests weren't part of the OWS, they were part of an anger directed at Walker for dismantling Wisconsin's 164 year progressive history, destroying civil, worker, and women's rights, for union busting, and for taking the Tea Party line of demonizing public sector workers as overpaid and lazy. Unfortunately, anger only goes so far. You can't sustain it. So even though many still view Walker as an uncompromising ass, the whole recall process has taken far too long with too few victories to keep the public's interest.

    And the fact that there was a Recall Walker campaign but no one running against him for the longest time, I think that galled a lot of people. OK, fine, now we have someone, but really, there is the whole anti-Milwaukee thing that the rest of the state feels. So the fact that the election is Part 2, Walker Vs. Barrett probably turns a lot of voters off, even the ones still angry about what Walker has done. The Democrats had the momentum coming into the new year, but then everything deflated when no strong Democrat contender was willing to face Walker. Everyone was hoping Feingold would ride in to save the day, but no such luck. Sure, we had a name, LaFollette, which to Wisconsin is like Kennedy to Massachusetts, unfortunately, this LaFollette is a big drip.

    I'm angry that Walker has done the things he has, but I never really supported the Recalls. He isn't a criminal (yet). He isn't immoral (that I know of). Isn't unethical (again, that I know of). I don't believe in a recall simply because you disagree with a politician's agenda or votes. So as much as I hate Walker, even I might not vote for Barrett.

  2. Good stuff, Ed. Thanks for taking the time.

    And yeah, I know the Wisconsin stuff is unrelated to OWS. But remember how it dominated the news for a couple of months? People were sure it really meant something, it was really going somewhere, even people well outside of Wisconsin. Same thing with OWS.

    And I've heard others voice the same opinions in your last paragraph. It's a good and fair point.