Occupy Wall Street – and a slew of parallel protests in distant cities in most all states – has been wildly successful in its first month in many ways: growth rate, recruiting young people, and forcing concessions from politicians. But any possible merger between the two movements, which would benefit both tremendously, will require several things – starting, of course, with Occupy Wall Street’s lasting rather than dying out.
Right now, Occupy Wall Street’s worst weakness is its success. Concessions by both New York City and Washington local authorities to allow it to maintain semipermanent encampments are obviously – overtly in the case of the flagship New York City encampment – premised on authorities’ not-unreasonable hope that the “Occupy-ers,” almost none of who seem either dressed to live outdoors as winter sets in or at all likely to have skills that would allow it, will be chased off the streets by the weather rather than police. Indeed, public remarks by New York City’s mayor made obvious this is his hope – and that he’s betting big that it will happen that way at the same time he avoids violent confrontations involving police and “Occupy-ers” as his city’s worldwide image in the news, costing it tourist business and shopping. Certainly, anyone with experience outdoors – say, hunting or as a building tradesman – in bitter weather sees that end to Occupy Wall Street as very likely within a month.
At least until you start thinking a step ahead – and look at the calendar. If the “Occupy-ers” can last until mid-to-late December, the start of college (and high school) winter vacations will flood the streets with young people – and the encampments are likely to have a flood of new recruits who see no good future for their student-loan debt as they think of their older brother or sister who never found a good job after graduating. Quite possibly, some such college students might decide to cut their losses now, rather than incur further student-loan debt for likely nil payoff – and stay on with the movement into the spring as weather warms.
If that merger scenario happens, it will be the Tea Party’s wildest dream come true. The image of semipermanent “Obamavilles” of large numbers of recent college graduates who couldn’t find good jobs will be an insurmountable burden for Obama and the entire Democrat ticket. And – for the “Occupy-ers” – it will bring them a group of people who’ve been protesting bailouts for banks for over a year.