Try as they might, the radical activists behind the Occupy Wall Street protests have been unable to persuade the American public that their actions constitute the kind of broadly supported “liberal populist” movement that swept William Jennings Bryan into the leadership of the Democratic Party from 1896 to 1912.
When we speak of populism, we’re talking about grassroots political movements with broad support from “the common man.” Populist movements originate among the common people, and support a political agenda that advances their interests using accepted methods of traditional political engagement. Such was the case with the first “conservative populist” movement when the Jacksonian Democrats routed first John Quincy Adams and then Henry Clay at the ballot box. It was also the case during the “liberal populist” movement of the 189os and early 1900s. Though they failed at electing Bryan to the Presidency, they played an instrumental role in the successful adoption of four amendments to the Constitution, including the direct election of Senators and Prohibition.
While American populists were achieving a degree of political success through non-violent political engagement in the early 20th Century, a tiny minority of Russian socialists who called themselves Bolsheviks were securing political power through the exercise of violence. For decades, well meaning “useful idiots” in the West helped their cause.
Despite skewed polls that purport to show support for the goals of the Occupy crowd, the reality is that very few Americans support this committed group of revolutionaries dedicated to the destruction of our political and economic institutions. These American Bolsheviks have their own “useful idiots,” the most notable example being Jean Quan, the mayor of Oakland, who actively was a cheerleader for the violence the Occupiers recently brought to that city.
Reports of drug use, sexual assaults, and violence plague the various “Occupy” encampments across the country. The recent mob violence in Oakland where thousands of Occupy Oakland “protesters” broke windows, vandalized shops, attacked police, and shut down the port of Oakland for several hours are completely in line with the true purpose of the movement — to launch a violent revolution that will destroy capitalism and replace it with a collectivist American dystopia.
Now comes that beacon of the liberal Democrat establishment, former New Jersey Senator and Governor Jon Corzine. To be clear, Mr. Corzine is no idiot, but how useful he and other Wall Street Democrats will be to either their own party or the Occupiers is greatly in question.
This week, Corzine resigned in disgrace from his position as CEO of the now bankrupt MF Global, which, some news reports say is missing $600 million of investor money. Corzine took over the Wall Street firm in March of 2010, after Chris Christie beat him in his effort to get re-elected as Governor of New Jersey. Making risky bets on unstable European currencies wasn’t the only thing that occupied Corzine’s time while serving at MF Global. He also reportedly raised $500,000 as a bundler of donation’s to President Obama’s re-election campaign.
The New York Times reported this week that Corzine used his political connections with the Obama Administration to keep federal regulators from investigating his business practices at MF Global. Mr. Corzine has successfully demonstrated that the Obama Administration and its political allies are the most prolific practicioners of the kind of “crony capitalism” and Wall Street excesses that the Occupy Wall Street protesters supposedly find so objectionable.
But few in this crowd will criticize Mr. Corzine, one of President Obama’s favorite Wall Streeters. These new American Bolsheviks are now finally unveiled for what they are– a small group of anti-capitalists cheered on by useful idiots.
Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, was published in July. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .