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Posted at 01:40 PM ET, 10/12/2011

After the Republican debate, how will the 99 percent vote?


We’re here! We’re here! Get used to it! (Marvin Joseph - THE WASHINGTON POST)
Forget 9-9-9. What about 99?

How will the 99 percent vote?

It’s a pretty big tent. Ninety-nine percent of the populace — or, as Lincoln might say, “about as many people as you can fool some of the time, but more than you can fool all of the time.”

The simple answer, looking at their Tumblr, is that these are a liberal bunch. They want The Government to do more for them. They want a larger, softer safety net. If FDR were alive today, he’d be in for a fifth term.

The trouble is, he isn’t.

The Republican debate Tuesday night evoked the 99 Percenters’ primary complaint — that 1 percent of the people control a disproportionate share of the wealth — to muddled responses from the candidates. It was a nod — the same lip service to this Big Radical Idea That Seems To Inspire Kids These Days employed by President Obama in a recent speech. Everyone knows that people are unhappy. But no one seems to know what to do about it — certainly not the movement itself. “Perhaps if we mention their talking points in enough speeches,” the People Currently Running seem to think, “they’ll fold up and go away.”

Glimpse only some of the signs and none of the haircuts, and you might mistake this for a Tea Party crowd. Some people are even opponents of the Fed and proponents of Ron Paul. They agree that the fusion of money and politics is bad for both money and politics, and that the middle class is the one suffering.

But there the resemblance stops. Herman Cain disapproves of the 99 percent. He says there’s “no comparison” between them and the Tea Party and that the protesters have only themselves to blame — although, then again, that might just have been something the Internet says he said.

But what do you do about all these 99 percenters? Are they too long-haired and hippyish for the Republican field to take into account? Is that why everyone seems so relieved by the advent of the 53 Percent, a small but hard-working tumblr of tax-paying Americans that is probably a grass-roots movement, give or take a bit of seeding from Josh Trevino?

And how will the 99 percent vote?

The same way 99 percent of the people usually vote — every which way.

When your slogan is We Are The 99 Percent, it is difficult to be coherent. And these aren’t even 99 percent of the people. These are — a few thousand people in parks, really, as a synecdoche for everyone else.

Is a movement that tries to be 99 percent of things to 99 percent of the people capable of making any actual moves?

Maybe not.

But on the flip side, if 99 percent of the people can agree on anything, you know it needs changing. And they very nearly can. Even the Tea Party seems to think that money and politics are too muddled for anyone’s good. Leaving aside the whining about joblessness up with which the 53 percent are unwilling to put, the Occupants have a coherent objection to the fusion of money and politics.

When I visited Occupy Wall Street, there was a petition table to reform campaign finance. It was slowly collecting signatures. Corporations are not people. Citizens unite against Citizens United! Even Stephen Colbert agrees.

Or they could sit around waving vague signs.

While they stand in the park, the election season winds on. Fundraisers continue. Candidates are measured by their millions. A few months from now, they’ll watch the inevitable candidacies wind to their inevitable conclusions and wonder why they don’t have more revolutionary choices.

By  |  01:40 PM ET, 10/12/2011

Tags:  Occupy Wall Street, GOP 2012, Obama

 
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