It seemed like only a matter of time before the “Grand Ol’ Party” began villainizing the peaceful “Occupy” protests across the U.S. and indeed, the process has begun. From a political standpoint, it makes sense that the Republican Party would attempt to debunk a protest movement that firmly challenges the “free market,” “small government,” set of beliefs shared by the Republicans and their elite corporatist cronies. But what started out as a peaceful movement of demonstrations aimed primarily at Wall Street greed has continued to be a peaceful movement, much to the chagrin of the GOP. The GOP has however attempted to capitalize on a small number of incidents such as the “kill pigs” graffiti in Oakland, CA.
Of course, the Occupy movements have never advocated any such beliefs and those among the Oakland Occupy constituency have denied that the “kill pigs” graffiti was done by anyone belonging to the movement. Unfortunately, perception is reality in the post-modern era of meaning and the Republican Party have proven themselves adept at turning the most unequivocal piece of logic or scientific certainty into just another discredited “opinion” (e.g. global climate change). Fortunately for those of us who support the Occupy movements, however, Republican members of Congress in particular have become so discredited in the eyes of the U.S. public that their distasteful political tactics will only serve to appeal to their voting base and those who oppose the Occupy movements outright.
Beyond the reinvigoration of First Amendment rights for those on the left of the political spectrum, the Occupy movements also bring an important question to the foreground. Will our elected representatives listen to the demands of the Occupy protesters and the majority of Americans who agree with these protesters and their various concerns or will our country’s political leadership simply shrug these protests off as a hiccup in an otherwise staple environment of “business-as-usual?” So far, many elected officials around the country have held back from enflaming the tensions in middle and lower-class America by allowing the majority of protests to take place. President Obama and some in the Democratic Party have used the protests as a whipping horse for progressive pieces of policy. Overall, though, the fundamental concerns of the Occupy protesters have not been appropriately addressed excepting perhaps President Obama’s progressive student loan repayment initiatives.
With our country’s economic forecast as bleak as our chances of building bipartisan bridges to address global climate change, these protests may indeed be a new form of democratic vocalization that will continue into the foreseeable future. How will our country’s political and business elites respond? Whether they like it or not, they still have to answer to “the people.” It is a future that includes “the people” that the Occupy protesters want back, and soon.