Occupiers, the New Village Idiots; Obama's Embrace of Protesters' Wacky Behavior Will Cost Him Votes

Article excerpt


The American left is still shaken by the success of spontaneous conservative grass-roots participation in Tea Party activities leading up to the 2010 elections. In desperation, leftists now hope to profit from the Occupy Wall Street gatherings, which have spread to many other locations.

Haven't the mainstream print and broadcast media, overwhelmingly liberal, given massive and sympathetic coverage to the occupiers? Isn't this a good way to build enthusiasm among the base the left needs to win the 2012 elections?

Probably not, even though Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, many extremist labor unions, the Socialist Party USA, the Communist Party USA and others on the left are singing praises of the current demonstrators. So many want to lead the occupiers.

One week after the Occupy Wall Street protesters first gathered, the New York Times ran an opinion article by Michael Kazin headlined, Whatever Happened to the American Left? offering his guidance in left-wing movement-building. He urged the demonstrators to focus on demanding millions of new jobs that pay a livable wage.

A fat lot of good that demand would do.

Creating new jobs requires creation of new wealth, something government has never been able to do. Government can and frequently does destroy jobs by interfering with wealth creation. At best, government can facilitate the creation of wealth (and jobs) by restricting its activity to protecting property rights, enforcing contracts, punishing fraud and deterring violence.

The idea of leftists demanding millions of new jobs that pay a livable wage reminds one of the famous cargo cults that sprang up in the South Pacific after World War II. Allied forces visited many remote islands during that war, built airstrips and flew in large quantities of goods needed in the war effort. Native islanders, unfamiliar with modern civilization, received some of those goods from Allied forces who wanted friendly relations with them.

After the war, the planes stopped coming. Some primitive islanders created cargo cults. They built crude replicas of airplanes and prayed to the replicas, hoping to receive additional free goods from the sky. As evidence of the persistence of human folly, a handful of the cargo cults still survive, but most have faded away after generations of disappointment. Leftists demanding millions of new jobs from government will be similarly disappointed.

For better or worse, though, the occupiers are too diverse to unite on a single demand. What attracts their current supporters, from top government officials to the avowed Marxists and Leninists, is their potential usefulness in promoting class warfare, an ancient and common thread that runs through the entire left. Maybe, somehow, the occupiers will build a great surge of hate, invigorate class warfare and help the left maintain and increase its power despite the growing public disapproval of President Obama and his allies.

And maybe not. We'll see.

Right now, the protesters don't seem to be winning public approval despite sympathetic news coverage stressing their idealism. My late father often said, Anyone can get his name in the newspapers if he's willing to take his pants off in public. …