Clayton Mitchell: For What It's Worth

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By Clayton A. Mitchell, Sr.

In the words of the band Buffalo-Springfield, “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear”. For almost a month, I have witnessed the “Occupy Wall Street” movement unfold and spread to cities across the country. Just like the Tea Party, the occupiers are exercising their First Amendment rights to assemble, of free speech and to petition the government for redress of their grievances. There is nothing more uniquely American than for free people to speak out. However, although these two groups have seemingly spontaneously spawned in the wake of the Great Recession, their manner of demonstration reflects upon the character of these respective organizations’ members.

Evidently, the Wall Street occupiers’ casus belli is the entire American capitalist system. And how do these occupiers evince their dissatisfaction with capitalism? Well, it is certainly not by acting in accord with the peaceful, non-violent traditions of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy.

In contrast to the 1963 March on Washington and the recent Tea Party gatherings, the “Occupy” movement is animated by its patent debauchery. Instead of protesting en masse with dignity, participants have defecated on police cars, urinated in the streets, interfered with the commerce of local innocent merchants and paraded in various states of undress. Thousands have been arrested for disorderly behavior. According to The Daily Mail, “Among the banners and flags are now discarded packets of condoms, cigarettes and bottles of spirits, while naked youngsters happily get together with just sleeping bags covering their modesty.”

If the occupiers’ goal is to unify the entire might of the Democratic Party behind their cause, they have seriously miscalculated. Despite what they may otherwise believe, the Democratic Party is not a monolith of Marx-reading hookah smokers. Because of their licentious behavior, they have in less than a month succeeded in alienating the Blue Dog and Reagan Democrats – the moderates – who will not permit this once-great party to embrace their communal agenda.

Notwithstanding the affectations of the far-right, we centrist Democrats recoil from causes that lie outside established American traditions. Sadly, I have not heard a single national Democrat leader say what needs to be said: The Wall Street occupiers are a disgrace, their actions are anathema to the Kennedy / King tradition and they need to recast their message in a civilized and constructive manner.

As a Blue Dog Democrat, I wholly reject the Wall Street occupier faction and refuse to be associated with their actions. I also give fair warning to any Democrat leader who gives his or her imprimatur to the Wall Street occupiers’ movement - if you for one second believe that our party’s rank-and-file union carpenters, factory workers or small business owners condone the activities of the apparatchiks chanting on Wall Street, you have effectively emancipated us centrist Democrats and as a consequence you will be demonstrably punished at the ballot box next November.

In the wake of the 2010 electoral shellacking, our national Democrat leaders must reorient their message to the mainstream. If the Obama Administration chooses to advance the extreme anti-establishment, pro-Bolshevik agenda of the Wall Street occupiers, in January 2013 it will be counted among the ranks of the 16 million unemployed. For what it’s worth, to quote Buffalo-Springfield again, “Stop, children! Everybody look what’s going down.”

Clayton A. Mitchell, Sr. is an attorney in Stevensville and regular contributor to Center Maryland.
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