Paul Jacob

“Rush Limbaugh’s Occupy Wall St. Rant Proves The Protesters Are Winning,” claims Politicususa.com, a blog boasting “Real Liberal Politics — No Corporate Money. No Masters.”

On Friday, Limbaugh had called the Occupy Wall Street protests “laughable.” Moreover, and exactly mirroring accusations on the left regarding the Tea Party and the GOP, he charged that the protests were “not spontaneous,” a mere front for Democrats and the Obama re-election campaign. Specifically, he pointed to support from the country’s biggest and most politically powerful unions.

Regardless of any attempted (or even successful) manipulation by the usual political powers that be, the seething anger and fear — on both right and left (and in-between) — is most assuredly spontaneous and genuine. The protests have now spread beyond Wall Street, across the country. The anger is everywhere. It is boiling against the politicians, who have mismanaged everything they’ve touched (and that’s quite a lot) and also against those in the Wall Street-corporate-government complex who have been bailed out at great expense to the average American, who even now pays more in taxes than did most medieval serfs.

We know, sorta, what the protesters are protesting. Unfortunately, we have to read between some of the lines, since “Wall Street,” and “capitalism” prove tricky to understand, as vague as those words have become — by processes George Orwell warned us about in “Politics and the English Language.”

We cannot know in any official sense what these protests are designed to achieve. When a list of specific demands was posted at the OccupyWallSt.org forum — universal single-payer healthcare, raising the minimum wage to $20 an hour, “fast track process to bring the fossil fuel economy to an end,” free college education for all, “re-imposing trade tariffs on all imported goods,” a trillion dollars spending on infrastructure, another trillion for ecological restoration, and so on — the site was quick to declare, “This is not an official list of demands. . . . There is NO official list of demands.”

The Freeman’s Sheldon Richman is right: “Their agenda is vague, but they at least have the good sense to know that something is awry with the political-economic system we labor under.”

Despite tenets to their protest to which I cannot subscribe — and despite the loathsome term “occupy” — I’m glad these people are protesting. I like protests. They are active, rather than passive. As Frederick Douglas once said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” Time permitting, I plan to attend and to talk with my fellow countrymen (and woman) about our governance. Sure, some Saul Alinsky-wannabes will be there, as will some people whose policy prescriptions are poles apart from my own.

But I’m not afraid of honest disagreement. We must not permit the partisans to unnecessarily divide us. I’m convinced many if not most of those participating are allies in the fight to restore a republic with basic liberties, constitutionally protected, as well as democratic checks on government power.

They are friends and not enemies.

Friends, perhaps in part, as the enemy of your enemy can be your friend. But also friends to the degree that they can be persuaded to recognize that the problem is systemic, and not solvable by either Republicans or Democrats gaining a more powerful majority grip on power. Indeed, that has been proven time and again.

Honest, thoughtful citizens on the left as well as the right have an abundance of reasons to be disgusted by the Obama Administration, and by Democrats in Congress, just as they were by the former Bush Administration, and Republicans in Congress. The time has come for us to work together, everywhere we can find common ground, to restore a legitimate political process — one that allows the people to decide, and makes government listen.

To the gnashing of special interests’ teeth.

In a recent interview for The American Conservative, Ralph Nader spoke in exceedingly positive terms about Republican Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul. “Libertarians like Ron Paul are on our side on civil liberties,” the legendary consumer advocate argued. “They’re on our side against the military-industrial complex. They’re on our side against Wall Street. They’re on our side for investor rights. That’s a foundational convergence. It’s not just itty-bitty stuff.”

Nader is on to something.

It might be amusing to sit like has-been celebrities on American Idol and judge the Occupy Wall Street (and various other cities’) protests — just as Tea Party efforts were snarkingly sneered at. But these days the stakes are simply too high and the prospects too frightening for such petty amusements. We need all the allies we can muster to help us restore a government of the people.

No, I don’t want to “occupy” Wall Street. Or any other American city.

But I do want to work with every willing American to end the occupation of our constitutional, democratic republic by a political class filled with mucky-mucks from Wall Street, and other boulevards, who wallow in bailouts and special privileges bestowed upon them by the power-obsessed politicians on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.