Wishful Thinking

The top news story of the day was that police forcefully evicted protesters from Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan after nearly two months of occupying the park. You can find more here.

But, in my mind, the main item regarding Zuccotti Park was a piece by Columbia economics professor Jeffrey Sachs. I’m not familiar with professor Sach’s writing, but I hope it’s not as hackneyed as this op-ed. It’s not that he is necessarily wrong in his analysis of OWS.

OCCUPY Wall Street and its allied movements around the country are more than a walk in the park. They are most likely the start of a new era in America. Historians have noted that American politics moves in long swings. We are at the end of the 30-year Reagan era, a period that has culminated in soaring income for the top 1 percent and crushing unemployment or income stagnation for much of the rest. The overarching challenge of the coming years is to restore prosperity and power for the 99 percent.

The professor begins his op-ed recycling some tropes from the bygone era of January 09. For those who may have forgotten, president Obama had been sworn in and the Democrats controlled Congress and the White House. Every news magazine in the country had photo shopped pictures of Obama as FDR. Newsweek said we were all socialists now. It’s not exactly that the professor is wrong, but how exactly is this revolutionary?

He goes on…

Ronald Reagan made a fateful judgment: “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” Taxes for the rich were slashed, as were outlays on public services and investments as a share of national income.

In the same speech he said, “In this present crisis”…Reagan was a conservative, but he was also a pragmatist.

Anyway, going on, Professor Sachs summarizes our political struggles for the past century as the triumph of the New Deal.  Of course, he is then put in the position of connecting OWS to the great progressive lions of the past.

The young people in Zuccotti Park and more than 1,000 cities have started America on a path to renewal. The movement, still in its first days,  will have to expand in several strategic ways. Activists are needed among shareholders, consumers and students to hold corporations and politicians to account.

A path to renewal? It gets better though…

The new movement also needs to build a public policy platform.

Is that even possible? I’m not trying to throw up some knee jerk reaction against OWS. They’ve had some legitimate concerns, but I have yet to hear any reasonable requests from any of these people.

The kicker is this…

Those who think that the cold weather will end the protests should think again. A new generation of leaders is just getting started. The new progressive age has begun.

I find the last sentence the most interesting of the essay. Wasn’t this supposed to be Obama? I thought he was the new embodiment of the new progressive movement. While professor Sachs is attempting to ring a clarion call; instead, he is sounding deeply insecure. Despite successes over the past couple years, it seems that Progressives seem to still be earning for their day in the sun (now I’m throwing around quite a few hackneyed phrases here).

Professor Sachs is going to be in trouble if he pins progressive hopes on the former inhabitants of Zuccotti park.


About bryanaens

I'm a recent college graduate. I studied English and journalism. I live in a nice suburb of Boston with my wonderful wife. I'm an avid reader and movie geek. I'm constantly on the lookout for new opportunities.
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