Friday, November 04, 2011

Downhill from Here

Now that the pathologies that affect any human endeavor are starting to crop up, support is going to start trending downhill for the #Occupy folks. Will "changing the national conversation" take a back seat to "defending the movement?" Or will demonstrators redouble their efforts to mitigate these pathologies and crimes and keep their message positive? Can they respond effectively when policing themselves?

If they can't, the widespread support they now enjoy may evaporate quickly.

Just a few years ago, the Tea Party responded to a similar moment by doubling-down on the crazy: taking the extreme path of xenophobia, cultural and economic panic, religious bigotry, and racism. Though they had enough momentum and structural support to win a lot of elections in 2010, enough of their pathologies ended up on display long enough so people turned away from them. They chose thin skins and a defensive, combative, paranoid posture that highlighted the worst features. What started out as populist empowerment became a support structure for the demagoguery of the Fire-Eaters. That ended up changing the whole narrative the Tea Party was promoting, and effectively ended any larger public appeal it had a chance of making.

The timeframe is different because the tactics are different, and Occupy started off with more disadvantages than the made-for-Fox News Tea Party. But what will the #Occupy folks do, now that pathologies are becoming the story?

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