Something interesting is happening in response to a year of Republican austerity measures imposed by the 2010 elections at the state level and by House Republican blackmail over government shut downs and government debt defaults. A new wave of protests have emerged modeled on the "Occupy Wall Street" protests in NYC. The protests are spreading to cities across the country. What's more, while unions were not the initial driving force, they are quick to see the potential of allying themselves with these protesters. Several big unions are planning to join the protesters.
Saturday, October 01, 2011
Here is why I think this is potentially a big deal. First, this seems to be a continuation of the anti-union busting protests in Wisconsin that lead to the recall of several Republican state legislators in that state and threatens to lead to the recall of Republican governor Walker. These kinds of protests are provoked by Republican policy overreach and have a record of have electoral consequences.
Second, and this may be more important, both the Wisconsin protests and the Occupy Wall Street protests are changing the nature of the anti-elite populism that the Tea Party has tried to tap. Where the Tea Party directs their ire at government and intellectuals, these protests are defining the elite in terms of wealth. Instead of calling high school teachers "communists" or railing about homosexuals, immigrants and "librul elites" these protests are zeroing in on the mega wealthy at the top of corporate America. In other words, the Tea Party now has serious competition for the leadership of the angry masses. If the new wealth-based definition of bad-guy elites takes hold, it will directly undermine the Republican 2012 political campaign and find an obvious ally in the Democratic party which is already pushing for more transfer of wealth from the mega rich to the middle class and poor.
Finally, the single greatest fear of the Republican party is a high turnout election in which large numbers of middle and low income people vote based on their rationally identified economic self interest. So long as this segment of the population can be distracted by "Guns, Gays, and God" or by the Tea Party's cartoonishly ideological rants, the GOP can survive the fact that their policies are actually likely to have a negative impact on the clear majority of voters' lives. These protest threaten to put the focus of the 2012 elections on income disparity and tax fairness. If those become the dominant themes of 2012, it gives the Democrats and inherent advantage. It also gives Democrats something to rally their otherwise demoralized base around.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 5:09 PM