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The Democratic Promise of Occupy Wall Street

Is that “Democratic” promise?

I’ve long appreciated Mr. Greider’s commentary, and agree particularly with almost all his observations in this article. The one exception, however, is the shock of this line: "Obama should dare to lead it rather than dodge or oppose it."

Has he understood nothing?

I recognize that The Nation, and many writers occupying varying positions on the left, owe their primary loyalty to the Democratic Party. I’m 70, and for a lifetime, that was to some degree true of me, too.

I was one of millions who helped get Obama elected. I was not smitten, and I did not idealize him. I heard him speak from both sides of his mouth, and understood that one side represented neoliberal goals; I always thought he might be fatally flawed.

But the process of moving toward regret began sooner than I expected when, on the day after his election, he announced his first appointments: Emanuel, Summers, Geithner.

Like others (and The Nation has been especially steadfast in this, alas), I made some efforts to rationalize and make excuses for Obama’s actions; his betrayals and seductions, his obvious personal weakness.

Obama’s contempt for the left notwithstanding, after failing so profoundly with both Clinton and Obama, shouldn’t we ask ourselves, Whatever happened to pressuring Democratic presidents from the left?

Do Nation editors and some of its writers really not understand the difference between that and the enabling they consistently do? Are all those who do so merely careerists?

Or are we so entirely without vision and leadership? Are we that weak?

Anyway, my own disappointment, regret, and understanding of what Obama’s election really represented moved forward at a steady pace. I’m far from alone in that, and surely you know that many activists in OWS feel the same way.

My point here is that the line of yours I’ve quoted above sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise smart and thoughtful essay, from a writer who often speaks with wisdom.

So what to think? Does Greider really not understand that Obama’s “leadership” has been a disaster in every way, and that were he to wrest “leadership” of OWS, it would spell the beginning of the end for the movement? Is that his real hope, and the point?

So many have become deceptive and manipulative in their writing, but I’ve never had that sense about Greider. I wouldn’t like to think either has been his intent here, nor that he might be operating as a sort of mole.

Still, though I wouldn’t like to think so, I wonder whether the clue to his real intent lies in the title? Is assisting in the cooptation of OWS for the Democratic Party William Greider’s real hope and intent?

Silly me, thinking that title meant small-“d” democrat. Naîve, I suppose. But who knows?

For myself, I thank William Greider for the rest of his work, and for this essay. But I know I’ll never forget that you wrote that line. All the rest pales.

Novelle Saarinen

San Francisco

Nov 25 2011 - 5:37pm

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