Let’s Go Squidding
Apparently to protest Goldman Sachs, a bunch of Occupy types dressed up in squid costumes and marched outside of the bank’s offices. Taibbi is obviously a bit proud that his vampire squid image has caught on so much with these folks, and it’s always good to have some reinforcement from your readers, but come on guys. Does anyone remember how much fun was made of Tea Partiers decorating their hats with English Breakfast bags? And now their walking around with fucking squids on their heads? Christ.
As a liberal, I’m growing incredibly impatient with the Occupy Movement and their seeming inability to learn from a similar fringe movement that popped up in 2009, the Tea Party. Or, I suppose, learn anything other than how to look ridiculous. I mean, The Tea Party is an avowed anti-government movement that managed to elect considerable numbers of U.S. Representatives and a handful of Senators, and have succeeded in triggering massive cuts in government spending. They seem to think they can destroy government from within, and it’s hard to argue that they’re doing a fine job.
But the Occupy people seem convinced that Zuccotti Park is Tahrir Square. Our government is not Mubarak’s Eygpt. If the Tea Party can in two years do the damage to the government they have from within, fuck off if you don’t think the fringe left can do something similar to their own ends.
So it seems Barney Frank isn’t seeking reelection. I don’t approve of this for the greater good but I understand his reasons. Apparently one of the big movers in his decision was redistricting. (Link to Pitt News bitching about redistricting by me.) His district will now have a good amount more conservative voters than in previous years, which would make his reelection more difficult. From the Times article: “The need to campaign in a district that is almost half new conflicts with [my policy initiatives],” [Frank] said. “If I were to run again, I would be engaged full-fledged in a campaign, which is entirely appropriate. Nobody ought to expect to get elected without a contest. But the fact that it is so new makes it harder in terms of learning about new areas, introducing myself to new people. And I have other obligations; one is to continue to serve the people I currently serve.”
I’m bummed because Frank was a reliable and strong liberal in a governmental body that needs him and those like him to combat the Tea Party wing of the Republican party. In a different way I was upset was Anthony Weiner shot himself in the foot by being unable to resist having cybersex over Twitter. (A quick Google later it turns out Weiner is back in the news for growing a mustache. Not kidding.) He was a vocal, fiery liberal who could have been mayor of New York if he hadn’t been a fuckwad at the same time. Obviously different from Frank, but I am upset in a similar way about liberal taking themselves out of politics. We need these types, very much.
I had a pretty lengthy conversation with my dad and aunt over Thanksgiving — conversation is a broad term; my aunt increases volume until it’s her turn to speak again — about the “next step” for the Occupy groups. It makes sense to me that, after a couple months of inhabitation protests, the folks camping out should take a page out of the Tea Party’s book and start gathering signatures for Occupy candidates for the House. There’s still time to get on the ballot right? I’ve just remembered that I have to change my voter registration to Friendship. Anyway, it seems to me that the best way to overcome the winter, where the camps will undoubtably lose population, is to move the argument to ballot boxes, which because we are still a relatively well functioning democracy have some import. If the Tea Party can muster enough people to elect Rand Paul in Kentucky, Occupy should be able to push someone like Elizabeth Warren over the hump, right? Quick note: Warren is a champ.
I went on one of my Wikipedia binges recently, about the Latin American wars of independence from Spain. This naturally lead to some reading about Simon Bolivar, who had one of those beautifully long Spanish names: Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Blanco. And it’s interesting to look at this name and then read about how Bolivar was not only descended from Spaniards who came to the New World in the mid-1500s, which isn’t all that surprising, but also about how the Bolivars were an incredibly wealthy family who only a shit ton of mining operations, including a large portion of Venezuelan copper. There were legal complications that were eventually voided by Bolivar’s revolutionary activities, but had things been resolved with Spain, Bolivar’s older brother would have been a Marquis.
I want to put this recently acquired knowledge at juxtaposition with a recent profile I read about George H. W. Bush, from 1986, and some thoughts I have about Occupy Wall Street and its satellites. The profile leaves Bush ultimately likable, and indeed says that making everybody like him was his main mission in life; certainly more likable than his son. In any case, he was the son of immense privilege but had been raised in such a way that he was deeply morally obligated to “give something back” to the world that had been so good to him. I’m not talking about his policies here, which I don’t know that well seeing as I was born just as he was being inaugurated, but rather his personal morality and drives, which seem generally positive. Obviously Bolivar and Bush are entirely different, but what they have in common is interesting: immense privilege and a deep-seated desire to do something positive in their lives.
Here comes Occupy Wall Street, which has recently been getting shit for being mainly white and mainly middle class, or at least the children of the middle class. This lack of diversity is a shame, and true. But I’m thinking now that it may tend to be the children of privilege who are at the forefront of revolutionary activities — see: Bolivar (stupid rich), Lenin (middle class), Gioconda Belli (regular rich), Adams and Jefferson (gentry of the finest sort), and Che Guevara (another white Latin American) — for the simple reason that they have the luxury to do so. I suddenly feel patronizing, which is uncomfortable. It’s horrifying, really, that we have a class of people who are oppressed enough that their lives are such a struggle for basic survival that they don’t have time to stand up against the system that is abusing them. And the people who essentially know nothing about what the struggle really is are the only ones who have the time and security to think about upsetting the system. It’s horrifying, but it’s interesting.