First came the broke unemployed drummers and poets, then the debt-ridden students, then the retired couples whose pensions and real estate holdings have withered, then the tourists, then, slowly, the journalists. On Friday, the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has been thrumming along gathering force and supporters across the country and around the world for more than a month now, won a reluctant endorsement from a chief critic, Tea Party blog king Erick Erickson at Red State.
“A friend of mine chastised me the other day. He said I was being too hostile toward the occupiers on Wall Street and elsewhere,” wrote Erickson in the Friday blog. “[A]round the country there are… a lot of angry, unemployed people who just think the deck is stacked against them… These people are open to listen to anyone who is willing to take on Wall Street…. We shouldn’t let unwashed hippies be the only people they hear speaking to their concerns.
“[T]he time is right for a Republican candidate to take up the cause of populism against Wall Street.”
Erickson has mocked the Occupy Wall Street movement as anti-American, communist and vague and its supporters as generally filthy and unlikeable. That line got a lot of traction on the political right for weeks. Erickson even took the lead in formulating the right’s online response to the movement.
“We Are the 53 Percent” is the tea partyish answer to “We Are the 99 Percent,” an Occupy Wall Street blog that posts stories of the overwhelmingly unemployed, underemployed, semi-employed, overworked, debt-ridden and uninsured population of the United States. That’s the 99 percent. The 53 percent referred to in the anti-Occupy blog refers to the specious GOP talking point that only 53 percent of households pay federal income taxes.
The stories posted at “We Are the 53 Percent” aim to provide a peek into the lives and mindset of hardworking conservative contributors to American society, a supposed contrast with the kind of people who want a free-ride, which is how Erickson had been describing the Occupy supporters.
Just looking at the substance of the posts at the two sites, however, the lines get blurred. The stories of the 53 percent, including Erickson’s, are also about hardship, about being taken for granted or taken advantage of and of being ignored by lawmakers. Gawker described the site as heartbreaking.
What makes “We Are the 53%” so heartbreaking isn’t that its contributors are enormous jerks-— it’s that so many of them could just as easily be writing in to “We Are the 99 Percent.” Like the guy… who can “barely afford” his rent. Or the “former marine” … who hasn’t had “4 consecutive days off in 4 years.” The phrase “I don’t have health insurance” pops up frequently on “We Are the 53%,” but not as a cry for help or an indictment of a broken system. Here, it’s a badge of pride.
Fox News is conducting an online poll that asks its readers if they support the Occupy Wall Street movement. Seventy percent of the first 190,000 respondents supported the movement.
Exaggerated bafflement about what the Occupy Wall Street supporters hope to achieve, an early line of dismissal, is now falling away, thanks in part to patient explainers like Alan Grayson.
The revolution that toppled the anachronistic and unresponsive French government in 1968 began with a protest in Nanterre, where students demanded the government serve more than just the country’s middle-aged wealthy elite. They wanted opportunity. The Nanterre sit-in started at the end of March. In May, students at the Sorbonne in Paris joined the protest. Then came more students at more schools, then came the labor unions and factory workers, then came celebrities and moms and dads. Last came the politicians. President DeGaulle on May 29 abandoned the capital and his wife gave her jewels to relatives for safekeeping. From a French military base in Germany, the World War II icon, an avatar for a certain kind of France as well as its president, decided to dissolve the government, which he did the next day.
Hat tip on the Fox poll to the Brad Blog.