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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Thoughtful Perspectives on OWS in TNR Roundtable

The New Republic brings together essays from 10 progressives in “Liberalism and Occupy Wall Street: a TNR Symposium,” which provides insightful and nuanced analyses of the Occupy Wall St. movement. It’s an excellent forum, in that it includes a full spectrum of Democratic thinking, pro to con and a range of perspectives in between.
After The New Republic published an editorial that took a skeptical view of the protests, several of its writers posted commentaries that took a favorable view of the demonstrations, including TDS Co-Editor Ruy Teixeira, John Judis and Timothy Noah. The subsequent forum features additional posts by TDS Co-Editor William Galston, Paul Berman, Will Marshall, Todd Gitlin, David Greenberg, Fred Seigel, Michael Kazin, Franklin Foer and Matt Yglesias. A sampling of excerpts:
Will Marshall’s “How Occupy Wall Street Will Hurt Liberals” provides a highly skeptical view, explaining, “…The protests don’t seem to be swelling into a mass movement. And they’re being hijacked by the usual congeries of lefty fringe groups, which are diluting the Occupiers’ most compelling message–that America is increasingly a land of unequal opportunity where hard work and self-reliance are no longer rewarded. Most important, though, the counterweight theory itself is flawed.”
In “Why I Support Occupy Wall St.,” Paul Berman writes “Occupy Wall Street and its sleeping-bag neo-hippies and its costumed street thespians and the touchingly hand-written placards and generally the display of eccentricity and impudence have focused America’s attention for a fleeting moment on economic wrongs and inequalities. How wonderful!”
How Democrats Can Make Common Cause with Occupy Wall Street ,” by William Galston takes a different slant: “Many pundits are asking whether the Democratic Party and the White House should “embrace” the Occupy Wall Street movement. The question is poorly posed. The real issue is the nature of the problems that now confront us and the most effective response to them. The party and the administration should make common cause with OWS to the extent that doing so is consistent with an agenda and message that Democrats can take to the country next year with a reasonable hope of rallying majority support.”
Fred Siegel casts his take with the skeptics, adding “In their zeal to recapture the spirit of the 1960s, the Occupy Wall Streeters are replicating the very processes that produced the current crack-up of liberalism…It’s not just that the Occupy Wall Streeters are filled with hopes of recreating the spirit of the 60s. It’s that they are literally recreating the follies of the 60s in miniature.”
Ruy Teixeira explains “Why a Majority of Americans Are Getting Behind Occupy Wall St.“, noting “…Among Americans who have heard of the OWS movement, favorable views outnumber unfavorable by a margin of more than two to one. OWS is saying out loud what a lot of Americans are already feeling. The time is right for an outbreak of aspirational populism–OWS is now twice as popular as the Tea Party–and liberals should hop on board.”
We encourage everyone interested in the OWS protests to read all of the contributions to the symposium. All in all, The New Republic deserves plaudits for doing something well that is not done enough — providing a broad array of views on a critical issue from some of the leading progresssive thinkers. In this way, supporters and critics alike can gain better understanding of adversarial viewpoints, while strengthening their own arguments.

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