I disagree. Here’s why.
First, as for the infiltration of the more incendiary groups, I believe this is a non-starter. Both the Neo-Nazis and the Lyndon LaRouche people (the ones with the Obama as Hitler posters) weasel their way into every protest or gathering. They were out in force among the tea partiers, too. And they are always marginalized because they’re so well-known that it’s easy to just ignore their minor presence.
But as Glynnis astutely points out, many of the other protesters there are “disaffected Obama supporters.” There are many different reasons for this, but there was one straw that broke many of his supporters’ backs.
During the 2007 presidential primaries, then-candidate Obama vowed, "If American workers are being denied their right to organize when I'm in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes and I will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States." But earlier this year when workers' rights were being stripped away by state legislatures around the country, President Obama was nowhere to be seen. And barely heard from.
Obama’s supporters weren’t merely disappointed, they felt betrayed. President Obama did not stand with them when they needed his voice and support the most. It was a devastating mistake on the President’s part.
He might have been forgiven — even if begrudgingly — for not pushing harder for a 'public option' in his health care legislation. That could still be remedied down the line. But abandoning middle class workers when they were in the fight of their lives would become a deal-breaker to many who believed him when he promised to be by their sides.
Then there is why “Occupy Wall Street” even exists in the first place. Though many allege there is no cohesive message, I find nothing to support such a claim. What the protesters want is pretty straightforward, even if solutions aren’t fully defined:
- Get corporate money and influence out of politics and out of politicians’ pockets.
- Take legal action against the criminals who caused the collapse of our economy.
- Do something to rectify decades of damage done to the middle class by the top 1% who are profiting immensely off the backs of middle class labor and not sharing the pie in a remotely equitable manner.
Barack Obama kills two birds with one stone by coming out, and coming out early, in support of the outraged middle class; He finally takes the stand he first promised, then disappointed on — to be by the sides of the working class when they are protesting (even if it’s not specifically related to unions this time), and he shows that he is not going to be beholden to Wall Street, even if it means they stop donating to his re-election campaign and start doubling down with his opponents. In fact, that’s exactly what the protesters want — a politician who says, "Keep your money, I’m with the people"!
If Obama can paint the Republicans as the party of Wall Street, he stands a good chance of not only winning back the support of those he lost, but earning the support of those taking part in the “Occupy” protests who were not supporters of his in the first place (and there are many, as Kamelia Angelina shows us in her report from the front lines; "THE DOWNLOAD: What Occupy Wall Street Protesters Really Think Of Obama?").
As for the potential for violence, contrary to the whisper campaign possibly hoping deep down there will be some, the “OWS” movement is clear about their tactics; they are non-violent. If there is some unintentional violence, will that frighten Obama away? I doubt it. If there is one thing we all know he excels at, it’s using the bully pulpit to call people to action. And if he’s standing out there with the protesters, even symbolically, and calling for peaceful dissent, I believe peaceful dissent is what he will get.
It is my opinion that President Obama’s decision to be front and center, aligning himself with the protesters from the start, is one of the few things he’s done right so far since announcing his intent to run for a second term.
REFERENCES AND ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
▶ "Obama Is Playing a Dangerous Game Supporting 'Occupy Wall Street.'" ~ By Glynnic MacNicol at Business Insider
▶ President hasn't walked with Wisconsin protesters yet ~ By Louis Jacobson at PolitiFact
▶ WALL STREET BUYS WASHINGTON: Here's How Much Banks Gave To The 2012 Presidential Candidates ~ By Zeke Miller and Grace Wyler at Business Insider
▶ THE DOWNLOAD: What Occupy Wall Street Protesters Really Think Of Obama? ~ By Kamelia Angelina at Business Insider
"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." ~ Anne Frank