Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: October 17, 2011


How to respond to #OWS

My esteemed colleague George Scoville brought to my attention a post about how Republicans are making a mistake in their responses to the Occupy Wall Street protests/movement.  John S. Wilson at Mediaite argues that mocking OWS, tying the unruly protestors to the Democrats, and waiting for the protests to fade is just how Democrats set themselves up for a beating by the surprisingly resilient Tea Party.

Wilson is right: conservatives are underestimating OWS. While individual protestors on camera often have no idea what they’re talking about, that’s typical for a large protest; it doesn’t mean OWS is bound to flop.  Unless Republicans think Obama won such a convincing victory in ’08 because the voters knew him so well, they should absolutely take this movement seriously and respond energetically.

That said, a few of Wilson’s points are false.  Like:

“The message is as clear as the implications: income inequality has gotten out of control and is untenable.”

Is that what OWS is about?  Seemed to me that the original demand was to remove money from politics.  And why Wall Street if it was just about income inequality and not, say, bailouts and financial reform?  Why are there enough anti-war protestors to take notice?  Why haven’t they been able to organize around a clear income-equality agenda?

In any case, the best counter-messages so far have been the ones that place a wedge between the protestors and the Democrats who they might vote for.
  • Once they were reminded of how much money Obama got from the financial sector, Democrats were forced to get into the weeds about who’s getting more money from Goldman Sachs et al.
  • The anti-war protestors have to contend with the fact that it’s been Democrats running those wars, and getting involved in new ones, for the last 3 years.
  • The stimulus and bailout bills had plenty of giveaways to large corporations, many of whom were allies of Democrats who voted for those bills.
  • Student loan forgiveness is the worst stimulus policy ever, especially when college grads have a low unemployment rate and the average 2011 college graduate starts at over $50,000 — instantly vaulting them into the top 25% of incomes.

They’ll still think Obama is better than the Republican, but the idea is to make them less energetic supporters.

The college grad thing brings me to another misconception:

“that [tax cuts] message probably isn’t endearing to rural white voters who make less than $40,000 a year. How could it be?”

This is just denial.  Those voters voted GOP in 2010 when it was all about fiscal issues and Big Government.  What does Wilson think has changed about the GOP message since then?

Democrats keep thinking that if they promise to pick Group A’s pocket to give to Group B, Group B will always love them.  But electoral politics is less about policy than signaling loyalties and aspirations. What do the rural white low-to-middle-income voters see on TV and in photos?

  • a bunch of urban college kids bleating to have their loans forgiven
  • the usual screamers and hippies protesting war (is that endearing to the typical Southern or rural family? and does the anti-Israel contingent appeal to evangelicals?) and fossil fuels (which goes over really well in coal towns and places where families are supported by oil jobs)
  • city folk fighting with cops and local businesses and generally trashing their surroundings
  • bongo drums and twinkle fingers and “the people’s microphone”
  • unions openly organizing at these events

When they see that, they don’t think, “Hey, those are the kind of people who will look out for me.  Let’s give them a shot.”  They’re thinking, “Those are the unwholesome whiners who call me a hick and want to shutter the local factory when they’ve never worked as hard as I do.”

It doesn’t help the Dems that they’re technically the party in power, and have had the upper hand since early 2009.  This would be more fertile ground for Tea Partiers if they hadn’t become so associated with political division and gridlock; they should concentrate more on unifying policies like:

  • good government
  • opposition to bailouts or any special favors for special interests, especially Big Business
  • requiring that military interventions involve a clear national interest, which can be mixed with a message of maintaining support for the troops

Offering conservative/free-market solutions on each of those things takes the wind out of OWS’s sails.  Tax reform, more transparency/accountability in government, opposing all energy subsidies instead of just the “green” ones, etc.

That’s how I’d respond to OWS.  This is precisely the time for Tea Partiers to go out and remind everyone that they’re better-behaved protestors who are running against Washington and against special interests, and to remind the other side that the small-government folks still have energy of our own, and challenge OWS on just who they think their champions are.

Bryan in fewer than 800 words: Follow Bryan on Twitter.


Voters not impressed with OWS … Obama on wrong side again?

The Hill just published a poll of likely voters.  The findings pretty much reflect what I’ve believed about the so-called “99%” protest.

Voters are unimpressed and the attempt to deflect attention from Washington to corporate America isn’t, at least to this point, working:

The Hill poll found that only one in three likely voters blames Wall Street for the country’s financial troubles, whereas more than half — 56 percent — blame Washington.

Moreover, when it comes to the political consequences of the protest, voters tend to believe that there are more perils than positives for Obama and the Democrats.

Of course that’s the double edged sword and the risk the Obama campaign takes trying to embrace this (while also attempting to keep some distance) supposed grass roots movement.

And, as the more radical groups attempt to join as well (see this photo essay for an example), the folks in flyover country are going to get even more turned off. 

Personal observation, but it just seems to me the radical left just hasn’t had much to protest about since Bush left office.  The anti-war movement (of which most of these groups showing up for OWS were a part) melted away when Obama took office.  He even started a third war and not a peep.

There will obviously be those who try to compare this to the Tea Party movement, but those comparisons will fall flat.  This is just the left looking for an excuse for the usual suspects to do what they do best – protest.  And, despite all the effort by the media to paint the OWS as something other than that is only going to prove the voters are a bit more sophisticated than the spin artists believe.  

This poll points out that while OWS has indeed built notoriety, it may not be the sort of notoriety that a politician would want to embrace.  Likely voters in the poll said it may not end up being a positive for those who latch on. 

Watch carefully as this develops.  Prepare for the old “rats deserting a sinking ship” rush when it starts to go south.

And it will go south.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


More signs of OWS Astro-Turf

And big media collusion.  Dana Loesch has the story.

Big Journalism has learned that the Occupy Washington DC movement is working with well-known media members to craft its demands and messaging while these media members report on the movement. Someone has made the emails from the Occupy D.C. email distro public and searchable. The names in the list are a veritable who’s who in media.

Journolist 2.0 includes well known names such as MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan, Rolling Stone’s Matt Tiabbi who both are actively participating; involvement from other listers such as Bill Moyers and Glenn Greenwald plus well-known radicals like Noam Chomsky, remains unclear. The list also includes a number of Occupy organizers, such as one of the Occupy Wall Street main organizers Kevin Zeese.

There is a lot of behind the scenes manipulation going on with this movement on the left as the Obama water carriers swing into coordinated action.  Read the whole article and check out the examples.

The Obama campaign and Obama himself is trying very carefully to help craft the message so he can at least tentatively embrace the movement, characterize it as a populist movement and try to use it to give his re-election chances some momentum.  Yesterday Obama made the comparison between the OWS movement and the civil rights movement of the ‘60s.  Having been around for that, I’ve got to say I’m just not seeing it.

To this point, OWS is a ragbag confederation of the usual A.N.S.W.E.R groups and the movement still hasn’t issued any coherent statement of its purpose except to harass the rich and attempt to lay the blame for – well you name it—at their feet.  As you’ll see, OWS now has “professional” help to help them put something together.

Obviously there is a lot of anger out there – we’ve known that for years, actually, as we’ve watched wave election after wave election take place and have witnessed the rise of the Tea Party.

But most of that anger and discontent was aimed at government.  And that has put this Administration on the defensive.  Where it could once claim outsider credentials, it is the government establishment now.  Obama knows that if the focus of discontent stays on government, his re-election chances are not good.

However, this movement offers a perfect opportunity to shift focus and blame.

It comes as no surprise then that media water carriers and spin doctors along with the administration see this as an opportunity to expand on the class warfare meme and shift blame and focus away from government.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO