I am seriously thinking this blog is about to die.
At least eight times in the past couple of days I’ve sat down intending to write something—Occupy Wall Street? Why I’m addicted to New Girl and hate myself for it? How an act of God is keeping Tim Tebow a starting NFL quarterback? The possibility, after all these years, that Joe Paterno turns out to be a bad person?—but after a minute or so….bupkis.
Maybe it’s because I’m having trouble keeping a consistent point of view on things. When OWS started I thought it was a joke—yet another sign of the Left’s latte-sipping, beard-growing, blanket-weaving, drum-circling descent into inconsequence. But after a couple of weeks it’s growing on me. Now I sort of like it.
What is the extreme fear of the Right? Easy—it’s that the downtrodden masses of the Left will break down the doors of the rich, drag them into the street, and chop their heads off. This is a fear that rarely surfaces in America (and I’m thankful it doesn’t). The vast majority of people live too well to resort to that kind of violence. But it’s important that the rich and powerful retain some measure of that fear, even if they don’t believe it will result in violence—they must think that what they have could possibly be taken away, or at least severely compromised, if they step over enough poor people. It’s silly to believe the government would ever take it away. If ever it were to happen it would have to be The Mob.
We haven’t had a significant fear of The Mob since the ‘60s, with one exception—racial street riots. But racial mobs are different from a generalized Mob. They have their own reasons for existing, and the establishment has very particular reasons for keeping them controlled. Generally, most Americans of the middle and working class think it’s unseemly to be involved in a Mob.
There was widespread opposition to George Bush and his administration on the Iraq War and the war on terrorism, but it never translated to widespread, lasting street protest. The movement was limited to a handful of people and given little press coverage. I think the big problem was that these issues didn’t affect the wider population very closely. There was no draft; relatively few people (and most of those were of a single racial minority) were affected by the harsher domestic surveillance and detainment laws. For the 99% of people who were personally unaffected by these things, they had to make a choice to protest based on an intellectual decision.
In fact, I would argue that for the societal cross-section I personally belong to—college-educated children of the middle or upper-middle class—the decision to align Left politically has been an intellectual one for the past thirty years. Especially for those like me who grew up in the ‘90s, we largely bought into the concept of the American Dream recognized through capitalism. Smart, hard-working people would succeed; if you didn’t it was your own fault. And yet most of us were politically liberal. We chose to live laissez-faire lives, while espousing liberal values.
I think it’s been different for the young people entering and graduating from college for the past three or four years. It wasn’t just the slackers who didn’t find a good job. This generation is experiencing what feels like the Death of Opportunity. There is real anger, and many of the young protestors have intensely personal reasons to continue their protest, for as long as it takes.
A quick economic recovery could still dispel the movement fairly quickly. Maybe a couple of those recent unemployed drum-circlers would leave if one of these same Wall Street firms they’re protesting could offer them high-paying jobs in a couple of weeks. But I don’t see that happening soon, and the damage has already been done. I think the Left will look very different in a few years. Fewer Clinton and Obama types—i.e., those who achieved great personal success at places like Yale and Harvard Law School and chose the Left on principle—and more people with personal experience of hardship, who are inclined to view the System with great suspicion.
Oh—and what a mealy-mouthed bitch Mike McQueary is. He emails his friends he did the right thing and talked to police, without mentioning that by “talked to police” he meant 8 YEARS LATER, after they came to him off a tip from an internet forum.
Hmm—well, that wasn’t so bad. Gonna try to watch The Descendants tomorrow. I was such a huge fan of Alexander Payne’s previous movie Sideways (it’s been seven frickin’ years! And they’re comedies; it’s not like he had to build the Death Star or invent new 3-D cameras or anything) that I’m afraid I will be disappointed.