Occupy Wall Street’s first year

“Looking to reignite their movement on its one-year anniversary, several hundred Occupy Wall Street activists protested in lower Manhattan Monday, staging a sit-in near the iconic New York Stock Exchange and swarming through the streets in costumes and toting American flags and signs,” NBC News reports.  Around a hundred people ended up getting arrested, some of them evidently counter-protesters.

NBC also gives us a taste of the insightful political analysis on display:

“We’re just at year one. We have a really big mountain to climb. But we’re hoping to get the power back to the people,” said Kim Fraczek, 37, who wore an Obama mask. She was with a man, Erik McGregor, 44, who had on a Romney one. They said they were aiming to show the two were controlled by money.

“In our bipartisan system, when the two candidates for presidency are doing everything to kneel down to the corporations and banks and turn against the people, it doesn’t matter who you vote for, because the war machine will continue,” said Fraczek, a handbag and jewelry designer.

[…] “It’s kind of a day of reflection, a day of celebration, a day that reflects some collective muscle and show of force. And I also think to remind not just ourselves but the world … that things haven’t really gotten better in the last year. In many ways they have gotten worse,” said Ian Williams, 27, a graduate student at New York’s Hunter College in social work. “And the project we’re sort of embarking upon is a long term one.”

(Emphases mine.)  It’s not hard to see why Occupy has never been more than an ugly sideshow.  The media spent years warning us that the Tea Party might become the violence-prone, destructive mess Occupy Wall Street always was.  Then they told us Occupy was the liberal version of the Tea Party, as top Democrats (including Barack Obama) rushed forward to embrace it.  The original leftist iteration of the Tea Party, the “Coffee Party,” was utterly forgotten, even though its debut had been greeted with absurdly disproportionate media fanfare.

But the fatal flaw in Occupy Wall Street was always its sense of lawless paranoia.  It styled itself as both outside “the system” and superior to it.  The very act of “occupation” is illegal, and compulsive.  These kids weren’t staging a rally and raising their voices – they were taking over public spaces and demanding attention be paid to them.

That’s the exact opposite of what the neat and polite Tea Party protests did.  There were guys walking around in tri-corner hats and talking about the American Revolution, and some of them had rather dour opinions about the probable future of the United States, but the Tea Party movement was all about constructively working within the system, to accomplish definite ends.  It was not just an open-ended grouse about how much everything sucks.

That’s why the Tea Party is still very much alive, and exercising significant influence over American politics, while Occupy is already a novelty act for anti-capitalist Democrats who don’t like having to grind their teeth and pretend they’re all about “growth” for the next couple of months, until Obama is safely re-elected.  For some on the Left, Occupy is fantasy role-playing about a populist relevance they no longer possess, and arguably never really held.  In Twenty-First Century America, liberal politics is all about stitching together a working coalition from rent-seekers and aggrieved interest groups, while keeping the middle class comfortably sedated.

But besides its lack of focus, thuggish aura, and absence of coherent, productive goals, the biggest flaw in Occupy Wall Street was always that it had nothing new to offer.  The mainstream Democrat Party is already peddling its ideas, with much more attractive packaging.  War against “sinister” corporate interests?  Class hatred?  Contempt for middle-class materialism?  Sacrificing liberty on the altar of despair?  The childlike fantasy of massive, paternal government that is somehow free of “special interest money” and corruption?

You don’t have to camp out in a filthy den of squatters for that.  It permeates both the news and entertainment media every day.  It’s for sale at every Democrat Party function.  If you want to see “collective muscle” flexed, check out a union protest.  There’s a lovely example going on in Chicago right now.

Occupy Wall Street failed because it’s boring.  It’s nothing we haven’t seen before.  It’s a vulgar street performance of ideas and assumptions that have dominated American politics for a generation.  In a sense, they’re right about how the same machinery will grind along, no matter who wins elections… but they’re agitating for a less finely-tuned version of the same machine.  “Air America’s” left-wing talk radio bombed because nobody wanted to hear the same junk they already get from the mainstream media, just louder and with more swearing.  There isn’t much of a market for socialism with outdoor toilets and rape tents, either.

The only interesting thing remaining about the Occupy movement is whether any of our “reporters” will take the occasion of its anniversary to ask President Obama and other Democrats if they still endorse the movement… and if not, exactly when they stopped.