With the Occupy Wall Street movement heading into its second month in existence, one of the open questions in Washington, D.C. among Democratic lawmakers has been, "To what extent should we embrace this movement?"
So far, whatever sense of common cause has been offered by the putative "party of the little guy" and the 99 percent has been very tentatively forged. For every progressive lawmaker who offers support for this movement, there seem to be ten others that are only willing to offer it an oblique shout-out. And by and large, President Barack Obama has been among the latter camp.
If you're wondering why the Democratic Party is slow to embrace a group of people who are looking for lawmakers to offer a cogent response to the nationwide economic dislocation spawned in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis -- the same that helped the Democrats ascend to power three years ago -- perhaps the fault lies in the advice Democrats are receiving from the popular and influential timidity-mongers with whom they consort.
Over at Talking Points Memo, Brian Beutler sized up the reaction of one such organization, Third Way (company motto: "Goin' supine since 2005!"), and found that the response they offered in a Monday strategy email "verged on parody." "'Occupy Wall Street -- Bad strategy for dems,' the subject line read," Beutler reports.
Here's how Third Way sees the world, as far as the 2012 election goes. They put together a poll of 800 voters who went for Obama in 2008 -- 400 of whom sat out the 2010 election (Third Way calls them "droppers") and 400 who voted for the GOP (these, they term "switchers"). The poll found that by and large, the "droppers" plan to return to the Democratic fold, but the "switchers" ... well, they're another story. Third Way says those folks are "fairly conservative, pro-business, anti-regulation," and so "Democrats run the risk" of driving them to the GOP "if they align with Occupy Wall Street." You should note that Third Way is making a bit of a logical leap there, because, as Beutler reports, "the survey itself doesn't touch on Occupy Wall Street in any way."
Well, what does Third Way recommend? Glad you asked:
"Our recommendation [is] not to necessarily lurch to the right in policies but to talk about a more optimistic view of where our country is and where we're taking it," [Third Way Deputy Director of Social Policy and Politics Lanae] Erickson said. "Both droppers and switchers overwhelmingly thought they were doing better than the average Americans ... they weren't blaming business."
Oh, that makes sense. Why even attempt to address the issues of Occupy Wall Street -- declining wages, reduced social mobility, and increasing economic inequity among those who personally bailed out the financial system -- when you can instead just "talk about a more optimistic view?" Is there any doubt that what the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators need is just to be given lenses of a rosier hue? I bet they'll all immediately go home and get back to crossing their fingers and hoping for the best. (And, not to put too fine a point on it, let's recall that the Senate GOP's "jobs plan" is to "create certainty and confidence," so "talking about a more optimistic view of where our country is and where we're taking it" is very much a "lurch to the right.")
But look, I really should commend Third Way for being able to find 800 people who "overwhelmingly thought they were doing better than the average American." That is, indeed, an impressive feat, because there can't be a whole lot more people out there in America who fit that description. (One day, maybe there will be a political party that seeks out the support, and sincerely wants to address the needs of, the considerably larger portion of the population whose members aren't doing better than the average American.)
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Dems In Tug-Of-War Over Occupy Wall Street [TPMDC]