On Sunday I wrote a piece called Occupy Election Day.
An interesting discussion took place in the comments. The same discussion that happens when I bring the idea up on Twitter. People argue that nothing can change in the political process of the United States, or that change is slow and can't happen now. There are lots of ways of expressing this idea. If it's correct, all hope is lost. Because that's the only mechanism for change we have in this country that has a chance of working.
But things are changing. Already. Because a few hundred people occupy a small piece of lower Manhattan. Paul Krugman noted the same thing in a panel discussion on CNN on Sunday. There were two Republicans and two Democrats. Krugman was one of the Dems. Steve Forbes was one of the Repubs. Krugman pointed out that the Republican themes, which are crazy wrong Depression-inducing ideas, were dominating the whole discussion before OWS came along. Now the topic has shifted, in a productive direction. I agree with Krugman. And I think we should continue in this direction. Of shifting the focus of political discourse. That matters much more than who gets elected in this year's election (to be clear, there is an election on November 8 of this year).
The Republicans said the problem was the Federal Reserve Bank, and that OWS people are anarchists. No one pressed for an explanation of the anarchists line, and Forbes, who kept pushing the Federal Reserve argument, didn't note that both chairmen he was criticizing are Republicans.
And aside from that Forbes is wrong, and almost certainly knows he's wrong. There were laws and regulations that kept banks from doing crazy things that introduce systemic risk, and the laws were eliminated by politicians, not the Fed. And we need new laws and regulations that eliminate this idea of Too Big To Fail, which lets the bankers keep the upside, and reserves the downside for American taxpayers.
And despite all that, it's fairly clear that at least some of the bankers commited fraud, which is still against the law. Only Madoff has gone to jail so far. The others certainly should be prosecuted. For all the reasons that Law & Order Republicans give for enforcing laws.
So, if we were to push the needle just a teeny bit in one direction, any direction, in the 2011 elections, that would set the stage for massive change. If you want power, you have to stop thinking so linearly. Showing power is as good as having power.
So let's find a contest, perhaps in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, California -- I'm just naming states at random, and influence the election. Not only through marches and occupations, but through door to door canvassing of voters. For the few days remaining between now and November 8, just getting out the vote would be enough of a demo of political power to make a difference. And then let's start planning for Election Day 2012.
PS: Barney Frank is on the same page. He wants to know where we all were for the mid-term elections. We really screwed that one up. But there's still time to fix things.