October 23, 2011
by Ronald Radosh
The more I read about the OWS protest, the more evidence is daily accumulated that it amounts to nothing but the old left gathering together again and pretending to be leading something new and vibrant.
The most important article about the OWS that I have read appeared a few days ago in The Wall Street Journal and was written by former Clinton pollster Doug Schoen. He states his findings, based on a poll of over 200 protesters, as follows:
The Occupy Wall Street movement reflects values that are dangerously out of touch with the broad mass of the American people—and particularly with swing voters who are largely independent and have been trending away from the president since the debate over health-care reform.
In case readers don't get his point he adds that "The protesters have a distinct ideology and are bound by a deep commitment to radical left-wing policies." His polling firm made the first, and perhaps the only, systematic study of who is at the park and what they stand for. The movement, he states, does not represent unemployed America and is not ideologically diverse. Instead, it is am amalgam of many different factions of the far Left, all of whom are united by believing in a radical forced redistribution of wealth, and the use of violence, if proved necessary.
What binds a large majority of the protesters together—regardless of age, socioeconomic status or education—is a deep commitment to left-wing policies: opposition to free-market capitalism and support for radical redistribution of wealth, intense regulation of the private sector, and protectionist policies to keep American jobs from going overseas.
As a centrist Democrat, Schoen is concerned with advising his fellow liberal Democrats to stay away from the OWS crowd, unless they want to assure themselves of political collapse in future elections, including the 2012 presidential race.
Some news stories appearing elsewhere substantiate his claims. I saw one report that at the Boston OWS, the most popular figures were Noam Chomsky, who was soon going to talk at the encampment, and the late Howard Zinn. Today, press reports appeared that Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, David Amran and Guy Davis, all leftist musicians of note, led a march from the Symphony Space Theater on the Upper West Side to Columbus Circle, in a march that began at ll pm and paused at the site for a concert. When the most notable figures of the Left are led by Pete Seeger—you know from the get-go that the OWS is not anything new.
The more figures like Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore and Pete Seeger and company become the spokesman for the OWS and its most celebrated public figures, the less relevance it has, and the less claim its anarchistic young people have to portray themselves as leaders of the 99 per cent.
Perhaps they should heed liberal Alec Baldwin, who surprised everyone at Zucotti Park by openly defending capitalism and the banks. Maybe seeing the disorganized chaotic site does something to promote reason even among the most extreme liberals- especially those like Baldwin who are definitely not part of the 99 per cent.
Ronald Radosh is an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute; Prof. Emeritus of History at the City University of New York, and the author of many books, including "The Rosenberg File;" "Divided They Fell: The Demise of the Democratic Party, 1964-1996," and most recently, "Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left."
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