5 Reasons the Right Is Terrified of Occupy Wall St.
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2). Inside-Outside. Especially in periods when people are unhappy, the political high ground is defined by who voters perceive to be elite insiders and who they perceive to be populist outsiders. Who among the political leaders and political forces are actually agents of change?
In 2008, Barak Obama won that battle hands down. The Tea Party Movement muddied the water. It portrayed themselves as "don't tread on me" populist outsiders doing battle with President Obama the elite, liberal insider.
Of course this ignores that the Tea Party was in many ways bought and paid for by huge corporate interests -- but in the public mind it was a very compelling image.
The Right Wing has always had its own version of "class conflict." Its "ruling class" is defined as the elite, intellectuals, bureaucrats, entertainers and academics that are out to destroy traditional values and undermine the well-being of ordinary Americans.
The Occupy Wall Street movement, coupled with the movements in Wisconsin and Ohio earlier this year, present an entirely different -- and accurate -- picture of who is on the inside and who is not.
3). Momentum. Politics is very much about momentum. Human beings are herding creatures -- they travel in packs. People like to go with the flow. Whether in election campaigns, or legislative proposals, or social movements, or football games -- the team with the momentum is much more likely to win.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has put the progressive forces in society on the offense -- it has begun to build progressive momentum.
4). Movement. The Occupy Wall Street movement has managed to turn itself into a real "movement." Movements don't involve your normal run-of-the-mill organizing. Normally organizers have to worry about turning out people -- or voters -- one person or one group at a time. Not so with movements.
Movements go viral. They involve spontaneous chain reactions. One person engages another person, who engages another and so on. Like nuclear chain reactions, movements reach critical mass and explode.
That's what makes them so potentially powerful -- and so dangerous to their opposition.
Often movements are sparked by unexpected precipitating events -- like the death of the fruit stand vendor in Tunisia that set off the Arab Spring. Sometimes they build around the determined effort of a few until that critical mass is reached.
In all cases movements explode because the tinder is dry and one unexpected spark can set off a wild fire.
Movements mobilize enormous resources -- individual effort, money, person power - by motivating people to take spontaneous action.
The Occupy Wall Street movement in New York has spread to scores of cities -- and the fire shows no sign of flaming out. It will fuel the engagement and remobilization of thousands of progressive activists and volunteers who had been demobilized and demoralized, but the sausage-making of the DC legislative process. That is a huge problem for the right that was counting on despondency and lethargy among progressives to allow them to consolidate their hold on political power in 2012.
5). Inspiration. More than anything else, in order to mount a counter-offensive against the Right wing next year, Progressives need to re-inspire our base. We need to re-inspire young people and all of the massive corps of volunteers who powered the victory in 2008.
Inspiration is critical to mobilization. It is also critical to persuasion. Swing voters want leaders who inspire them.
Inspiration is not about what people think -- it's about what they feel about themselves. When you're inspired you feel empowered. You feel that you are part of something bigger than yourself, and that you -- yourself -- can play a significant role in achieving that larger goal.