Now that many of the Occupy movement’s encampments have been broken up, it’s time for the protesters to plan their next step. In his new column, ‘Occupy The Majority,’ E.J. Dionne wonders how the movement can build on its success:
The breakup of some of Occupy’s encampments signals a new phase for the movement. This does not have to mean its end. On the contrary, it is an opportunity.
Let’s first dispense with a kind of narcissism that exists among Americans who lived through the 1960s and insist on seeing Occupy as nothing more than a rerun of the battles over Vietnam, Richard Nixon and the counterculture.
This frame is very convenient to conservatives who hope to drive a wedge between working-class voters and the Occupiers, much as Nixon brilliantly played construction workers against privileged hippies. That’s the theme of an outrageous advertisement assailing Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren by Crossroads GPS, the group associated with Karl Rove. It accuses Warren, a Democrat, of siding with Occupiers who “attack police, do drugs and trash public parks.”
Notice that this is an effort to bury the movement’s apt criticisms of the financial system beneath a pile of stereotypes. The Massachusetts Republican Party is reinforcing the message with regular “Occupy Wall Street Incident Reports” about anything bad that happens at demonstrations around the country. They run under a logo casting Warren as the “Matriarch of Mayhem,” in honor of her statement that she had created “much of the intellectual foundation” for the new movement.
To her credit, Warren has not backed off her support for the core ideas or goals of the movement. She has, however, emphasized that the demonstrators should obey the law.
That is good advice — as a general matter, but also as a political matter. If the Occupiers need to battle right-wing efforts to turn them into Abbie Hoffmans and Jerry Rubins (whom many of the Occupiers never heard of), they also need to resist a lefty sort of nostalgia.