OWS: Pissing Match of the Century

I’m a Reagan baby, through and through.  Thank God I wasn’t born in the 1950s, as I would have made a horrible hippie in the 1960s.  I’m not the sort to demonstrate.  I’m not the sort to march.  That’s probably just the conservative Midwesterner in me.  My dad was a hippie for a minute, but I suspect that was a reaction to his suburban Catholic upbringing and the chance to sample some mind altering substances from time to time, rather than any genuinely held political convictions.  As soon as he married my mother, he shaved his beard, became a registered Republican, and started complaining about taxes.

I digress.  But my point is this: while I don’t agree with the methods of the Occupy Wall Street ‘movement,’ I sympathize with their goals, at least as I understand them.  I think the economic system in this country is indeed rigged for the benefit of those that need assistance least, and that productive enterprise has fallen by the wayside in favor of financial manipulation.  I wish that the OWS crowd would put out more of a coherent policy platform, but that’s their perorgative not to.  Hierarchy, structure, clearly defined policy goals and a willingness to compromise with their opponents are all necessary to translate popular frustration into actual, honest-to-God change.

So what do we have instead?  A pissing match between the police and protesters.  What we have here is a bunch of people who are frustrated at being pushed around, and a Mayor (whom I happen to like, a lot) who’s sick of accommodating what he views as vagrants.  They’re camped out on public property, and they have a point to make.  Bloomberg tries to clear them out for a few hours, but does so in the dark of night, and with police reinforcements.  They refuse to leave, and arrests ensue.

Both sides are seriously in danger of overplaying their hands.  Does the city have a legitimate claim to clean up the park?  Sure.  Why not decamp and let the Department of Sanitation do their job?  But why do so suddenly and without prior notification and during the light of day?  While I’m not a fan of the movement, I sympathize with their goals, and while I am a fan of the mayor, I do not sympathize with his methods.  This little incident is symbolic of what we’re facing in modern US politics.  It’s not cut and dried as it seems.  Compromise is indeed called for.  The actors involved are claiming to be acting in the best interests of the nation, and while their hearts are in the right place, their tactics are those of children.  I’d love a few more adults in the room, please.

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