There is an unfocused financial rage in the United States.
It was born in the late 1990s on an unholy trinity of accounting swindles, the dotcom collapse and analyst scandals. It grew on a housing boom and bust that created 5 million (and counting) foreclosures, leaving more than a quarter of bank financed homes worth less than their mortgages. It matured on a growing wealth disparity that eviscerated the middle class, and brought back the plutocracy of the 1920s. It reached its peak with the bailout of reckless bankers, who were rewarded for their irresponsibility with the greatest wealth transfer in human history.
And now, it seems to be finding a new voice with the movement known as Occupy Wall Street (OWS).
Like the Tea Party, OWS began as a loose collection of people who knew they were getting a raw economic deal — but were unsure as to precisely why. They both started with a surge of grassroots politics. Both tapped into the national zeitgeist, feeding on an unfocused economic angst. When the Tea Party first burst onto the national stage, I had high hopes they might address some of the persistent economic problems our two-party political system was ignoring. But the Tea Party tilted to the right, shifting from the economic to the partisan. Obamacare and taxes – neither of which were responsible for a laundry list of economic woes facing the nation – became their focus.
That move created a vacuum. Since then, we have been waiting for a group of angry Americans to fill the void. It did not look like OWS was going to be the ones to do so. Especially with the way the Media was either ignoring them, or portraying them as a group of slacker hippies, fringe dwellers and kooks.
Now, the founders of OWS must consider what to do next. They surely do not want to let the momentum and energy dissipate. They see the Tea Party as hugely influential, but highly partisan, and up until now the Tea Party has been far less willing to criticize corporate interests than OWS.
The founders of OWS are aware of how the Tea Party was Jiu Jitsued by the existing GOP political establishment. OWS want to avoid a similar fate. Such an end could occur of the leaders of MoveOn.org, a partisan Democratic group, gets their way. They have bulled their way into the media, pretending to speak for OWS. (The media are suckers for a simple narrative, and MoveOn.org provides that).
Hence, OWS needs to demonstrate a few things: A clear leadership. A consistent message. But most importantly of all, some specific policy objectives.
I suggest the following three as achievable goals that will have a lasting impact:
1. No more bailouts: Bring back real capitalism
2. End TBTF banks
3. Get Wall Street Money out of legislative process
Let’s look at each of these in turn: