While the right will happily delegitimize the 99% movement based on the excesses and failures of these particular messengers, the message, it seems, has landed precisely as it was intended.
For one, this week’s New Yorker highlights a discovery Politico made earlier this month: “the use of the phrase ‘income inequality’ in the media has more than quintupled since the beginning of the occupation.” For another, congressional Democrats are poised to finally push Republicans to choose, conspicuously, between preserving job-stimulating cuts to the payroll tax, and preserving the historically low upper-income tax bracket. Republicans, of course, will elect the latter.
It’s a sign of the times that this potential “victory” for us takes the form of, functionally, requiring Republicans to choose the less offensive platform of their hand-crafted arguments. The argument that tax cuts stimulate job growth, after all, derives more than a little from Republican theory, even if the connection between tax relief and hiring is a little less attenuated than Reagan’s discredited “trickle-down” model. Here’s hoping Democrats manage to stick to their guns and, somehow, overcome their basic inability to message to make Republicans pay for the choice. We need to not be afraid of taking a tough rhetorical stand against bad policies. It’s probably time, for one, to embrace some elements of the right’s rhetorical toolbox. The featured picture, for one, demonstrates a damn-fine catchphrase, keyed to make our point while delegitimizing theirs. Let’s see it on some buttons.
This could be the final value of Occupy Wall Street: that they’ve given Democrats some cover to be less extreme than them, and take a stand on issues that should properly be understood to belong to the middle of the political spectrum. At the end of the day, at least we’re talking about it.