It could be that 2011 will go down in the books as the year when even the lowest of “low-information” voters realized, thanks to the Occupy Wall Street movement, that government has become dysfunctional because the interests of our elected officials are at odds with the interests of the electorate:
From its inception, OWS has focused on the concept of legalized bribery, as the continually rising cost of a political campaign – an average of $1.4 million for a successful House run, up fourfold in real dollars since 1976, and nearly $10 million for a Senate seat – has been largely subsidized by wealthy donors, corporations and special interests, in return for legislation that favors their interests. It’s a form of regulatory capture that most first-world democracies outlaw as corruption, but that Americans know as “the way things are,” along with “ask your doctor” pharmaceutical ads and campaigns pitching products directly to young children. The result is an almost total lack of confidence in our elected officials, as reflected by Congress’ almost impossibly low 9 percent approval rating.
The fact that Congress is moving away from the rest of the public is exactly why Occupy Wall Street has found such a giant hole in the political conversation to step into, and why our national representatives have kept their distance even when polls showed the public responding powerfully to our complaints and slogans. In a true market of political ideas, we’d have been prime targets for coopting. Instead, President Obama works “99 percent” into his speeches, and business as usual continues…
Despite such indifference, Occupy Wall Street resonated where previous protests petered out by creating and holding a physical space where it was impossible to avert one’s gaze… The 99 percent rediscovered the collective power of our voice, and started using it to make a whole lot of noise… In 2012, expect to hear more of that noise from Occupy the Caucuses and Occupy Congress. Money talks, but we do too.
Good diagnosis. Now it’s time to start working on a cure.