In 2009, the New York state legislature imposed a tax surcharge on residents earning
$1 million or more per year. This “millionaire’s tax” was passed with the proviso that it expire on December 31, 2011. When Democrats in the state capital proposed extending this tax on the rich, Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo said no, and the surcharge was history.
The Occupy Wall Street protesters held a march, dubbed the millionaire’s march, to demand that the rich pay their fair share of taxes. They marched past the New York City homes of billionaire David Koch, News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch, and Jamie Dimon, CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase. For some strange reason, they did not march past the offices of the Democratic governor.
This stunning inaction is a bad omen that the Occupy Wall Street movement is doomed to fail unless it changes course quickly. The only way to protest income inequality or bailouts of the financial services industry is to protest against the people in power, even when they happen to be Democrats. Occupy Wall Street appears destined to turn into yet another effort to soft pedal Democratic complicity in the current economic crisis. OWS activists must not only disconnect themselves from the Democratic Party, but have the courage to protest them as strongly as they would Murdoch and Koch.
Agitation in favor of the “99%” against the “1%” is useless if it doesn’t address the bipartisan nature of the attack on the working people of this country. It is a bad sign indeed when the likes of Nancy Pelosi express support for OWS. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hypocritically asks for “100,000 strong standing with Occupy Wall Street.” It strains credulity to believe that the people in charge of raising corporate cash for democrats really want to see changes in our political system.
It is Barack Obama, not George W. Bush, who made a lie of the dictum that Social Security is the “third rail of politics.” It is now in the slaughterhouse along with all other government programs, waiting its turn to be eviscerated. The Democrats have excelled in committing the crimes which Republicans have only dreamed about, and they will only grow bolder if they are not called to account.
As a witness to the protest in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti park, this columnist did not see one sign or hear any general assembly statements denouncing the Democratic Party. It is easy to shout down Geraldo Rivera and Fox news, that condemnation is low hanging fruit for any intelligent person.
It will be harder to say that Andrew Cuomo and his political aspirations are as much a part of the problem as Messrs. Koch and Dimon. The propaganda which ignores Democratic Party perfidy is very deeply imbedded in the American people. If they don’t hear the voices of the American left telling them the truth of the country’s condition, then our situation is a dire one indeed.
The coming days and weeks will give the occupiers ample opportunity to speak out as the Obama administration ratchets up its efforts to realize right wing fantasies. On the same day that marchers missed a golden opportunity to expose the Democratic Party’s complicity in letting wealthy New Yorkers get away with their ill gotten gains, the administration charged Iranian citizens in a bizarre and unbelievable plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington. Will the OWS forces move to protest when Obama makes the inevitable case for war, or will they revert to letting Democratic crimes against humanity go unopposed?
While OWS promises to remain unco-opted by any political party, it has not moved further to include the Democrats in its denunciations. Partly as a result of its leaderless, decentralized nature, OWS has been slow to solidify any demands. Words like breaking up the concentration of wealth and power will be meaningless without a more pointed critique of the political system, a critique which should be no respecter of persons or party.
Mass action is the only way to prevent further inequality, and further American aggression around the world. Occupy Wall Street can be the beginning of a great movement, or a lost opportunity. The experiment may be in its beginning stages, but the learning curve has to be brief if OWS is to not only remain free from political interference, but make good on its claims of fighting for the interests of working people.