An American Spring
By Michael Kleen
May 7, 2012
Last autumn, the “Occupy” movement burst onto the scene, beginning on Wall Street and spreading to cities across the United States. It did not take long for familiar left-wing organizations, including Moveon.org, Code Pink, the AFL-CIO and the United Auto Workers, as well as individuals like Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, and Cornel West, to join their ranks. President Obama even expressed solidarity with the growing movement, saying, “I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel.” As winter set in, however, those Occupiers who did not disburse from their camps because of the weather were removed by police. The uprising fizzled.
Since then, activists in the Occupy Movement have been contemplating what to do next. Rather than funneling their efforts into political activity, like the Tea Party did in the 2010 midterm elections, all signs point to a continuation of the same misguided efforts of last autumn. Some have even discussed an “American Spring” that would duplicate last year’s massive protests that toppled the governments of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. May 1st (May Day) was chosen as the start of this new phase of the Occupy Movement.
As I write this, the May Day protests are underway. Last night, April 30, members of “Occupy Oakland” smashed windows, damaged luxury cars, and fired paintballs at buildings around Dolores Park in San Francisco. According to Missionlocal.org, the mile-long trek of vandalism began on 18th and Dolores streets, where a group of more than 100 protesters met as part of an early May Day march. “Protesters walked West on 18th Street, turned left on Valencia Street, turned right on Duboce Avenue and another made a right on Mission Street before being confronted by riot police at 14th and Mission streets, according to Justin Beck and independent journalist who followed the protesters.”
Elsewhere, the FBI arrested five self-described anarchists for allegedly plotting to blow up a Cleveland-area bridge. After a period of heavy surveillance, they were arrested for conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce. Tuesday morning, harmless white powder was delivered to several banks in New York along with notes that read, “This is a reminder that you are not in control,” prompting evacuations.
In anticipation of the protests, New York City police raided the apartments of several prominent activists and interrogated them about their plans. A statement by the Brooklyn anarchists posted on anarchistnews.org read, “Tomorrow they won’t be raiding innocent individuals in their beds, they will be up against tens of thousands of angry New Yorkers who have had enough of their bullshit. May Day means no work. May Day means no shopping or housework. And May Day means revenge.” In Seattle, demonstrators smashed windows, clashed with police, and vandalized a courthouse.
It seems that leftist protestors have learned nothing since the days of the 1960s, a decade in which their forerunners became increasingly radicalized and violent as they failed to achieve their goals. A lot of attention has been paid to that anti-war movement, but few remember that by the 1972 presidential election, Americans were fed up with the protests, terrorism, and riots. Richard Nixon won reelection by one of the biggest landslides in the history of United States presidential elections, losing only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. Left-wing activists like Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn faded into obscurity until they reemerged decades later around the candidacy of Barack Obama.
Predictably, the far left has again resorted to protests and violence after the election of Barack Obama failed to herald their long-awaited revolution. President Obama, it turned out, was not the one they had been waiting for, or at least he failed to live up to the hype. Frustrated at the ballot box, his electoral base has gone berserk. A coalition of left-wing anarchists and labor unions has called for general strikes, protests, and an expansion of last autumn’s “Occupy” activities. They are attempting to achieve on the streets what they failed to achieve through legitimate political activity, but so far results have been disappointing.
Only the most hard-core members of the “Occupy” movement showed up on May 1st, proving that a small group of people can make a lot of noise, if little else. The tens of thousands they expected to join them did not materialize. This is a good sign, because it means that even their fellow travelers realize the harm they are doing to their cause. Every outburst, every act of violence, and every expression of their true feelings and goals alienates more supporters among the general populace.
Most Americans agree with former President Abraham Lincoln’s sentiments when he said, “Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.” They are not enthusiastic supporters of far left-wing efforts to confiscate wealth and abolish private property, even if they are sympathetic to vague Populist rhetoric against the “richest 1 percent.” I predict that the Occupy Movement will not only fail to create an “American Spring,” it will ultimately undermine its goals and drive mainstream Americans in the opposite direction. The question is, will the Republican Party be able to repair its damaged reputation and ride that wave into the White House in November, or will it flounder and fail to rise to the occasion? Only time will tell.