mardi, octobre 11, 2011

Throwing away the playbook

Are we on the verge of some kind of real change in America? Or do we have a democratic system that placates and marginalizes dissent?

For all you folks who hoped that I would be talking about football when I stuck the word "playbook" in the headline, sorry to disappoint you.

For those of you who were praying that I wouldn't, this is your lucky day. I don't understand football strategy, and even mix up simple baseball plays now and then -- a woman's got to know when to keep quiet.

Back to politics.

Like you, possibly, I've been watching the recent explosion of "Occupy Wall Street" meet-ups around the country, and pondering what it means for America - and for our democracy.

As with the rise of the Tea Party, pundits are divided -- is this a bunch of anarchist, far-left young folks who are looking for a cause? Are they the usual suspects, brothers and sisters to protesters who show up at anti-globalism demonstrations around the world?

Are the people holding marches and sleepovers around the nation the left's answer to the Tea Party? Could they find common cause with the Tea Party?

I don't have the answer to any of these questions (add omnipotence to things that are not on my list today).

But I do think, in opposition to the disdain heaped on them by some right-wing pundits, that there is cause to take OWS seriously. By themselves, the protests might not mean all that much -- though that's arguable.

In the context of the broad discontent shaping American politics, high unemployment (particularly among young people) and an economic picture that shows little immediate promise of getting brighter, they may mean a lot.

It's worth paying attention, not solely to OWS, but to what happens with the deficit reduction committee, the Stock Market, the Eurozone debt hurricane, and jobs figures.

If they don't show signs of making substantial change, we could continue our downward slide.

Then lots of us might wish OWS was simply a bunch of dreadlocked students -- instead of groups with genuine grievances, and nowhere to go with them.

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