Tuesday, November 01, 2011

John Boehner says he understands Occupy Wall Street "frustrations"

Try not to snicker as the Speaker plays the faux populist card:

"I understand people's frustrations," Boehner said during an appearance at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville. "The economy is not producing jobs like they want and there's lot of erosion of confidence in our government and frankly, under the First Amendment, people have the right to speak out... but that doesn't mean they have the permission to violate the law."

Allow me to respond:

First, only an extremely tiny minority of protesters, and not even real protesters, are violating the law or otherwise acting in anything other than a peaceful manner. But of course those who oppose the protests, those in the GOP and right-wing media, are holding up those rare exceptions as a way to discredit the entire movement.

Second, the movement is not only, or even mostly, about the current state of the economy. It's not about jobs or confidence in the federal government. To put it that way is to suggest that the movement is angry with Obama, whom Republicans like to try to blame for the bad economy and lack of jobs (when of course they really only have themselves to blame for opposing adequate measures to get the economy, as well as the job market, going again). The movement is about the plutocracy of the 1%, the domination of America (and the vast majority of Americans) by the wealthy few, specifically those in the financial industry. Note that it's Occupy Wall Street, not Occupy Capitol Hill or the White House.

Third, calling them "frustrations" is a way to write them off as irrational and essentially unworthy of being addressed in any serious way. The protesters aren't just frustrated with the way things are, they're speaking out against the gross injustice that is rotting the core of American society. (Calling them frustrations also allows for those committing and profiting off that injustice to be excused of all responsibility. You can be frustrated with the weather or with the traffic. So what? This is about so much more.)

Fourth, Boehner may understand these "frustrations" more than most other Republicans, but that doesn't mean he gets what the movement is all about. He clearly doesn't.

Fifth, understanding doesn't mean giving a shit (or wanting to do anything about it). That's the key distinction here.

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