In the Wall Street Journal, Douglas Shoen reports on some fascinating Occupy Wall Street polling. There is much that is unsurprising — c.f., that “Occupy Wall Street is a group of engaged progressives who are disillusioned with the capitalist system and have a distinct activist orientation.” But one line in particular stands out, and lends credence to the argument that the movement can’t even agree with itself:
by a close margin, protesters are divided on whether the bank bailouts were necessary (49%) or unnecessary (51%).
Come again? I thought you said that protesters were divided on whether the bank bailouts were necessary? This was supposed to be the one thing on which the inchoate bunch could agree — that Wall Street was being given all the people’s money. What of the 1% and 99%? Of the ubiquitous chant, “They got bailed out, we got sold out”?
The truth is that the bailout — which happened three years ago, incidentally — is a convenient excuse. I have argued for the last three weeks that “it is soon apparent that, far from the current state of the union being an anomaly, the majority of those angry at the state of the union have never considered there to be peas under the shells.” We are talking about a group of which
half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, virtually all (98%) say they would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and nearly one-third (31%) would support violence to advance their agenda.
Meanwhile, among the American public, which is supposedly represented by the protests,
41% of Americans self-identify as conservative, 36% as moderate, and only 21% as liberal.
At the rotten heart of this movement is that most dangerous of follies: delusion.