If Cole Porter were alive today he’d say that Occupy Wall Street (OWS) was “just one of those things” that was “too hot not to cool down.” The loosely affiliated band of people fed up with the excesses of financial institutions saw their influence spread around the world. But OWS pretty much faded away in less than a year, thanks to its disdain for structure, order or coherent goals. And yet, through no fault of its own, two people who proudly carried the OWS banner just got elected to Congress.
“I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do,” Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told Samuel P. Jacobs of the Daily Beast last year. “I support what they do.” The Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau that sprang from the Dodd-Frank financial reform law was her idea. When it came time to choose the leader of the new agency, though, President Obama chose Richard Cordray.That turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The Harvard Law professor bested Sen. Scott Brown (R) in Tuesday’s contest over the seat once held by late-Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Former representative Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) was elected in 2008 and then shown the door in 2010. He was among the more bombastic of members of the Democratic caucus who was unafraid to take the fight to Republicans. For instance, Grayson declared that the Republican health-care plan is “don’t get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly.”
During his congressional hiatus, Grayson took up the cause of OWS. Appearing on “Real Time with Bill Maher” last year, he challenged the snark directed toward the directionless, unwashed “hippies.”
They’re complaining about the fact that Wall Street wrecked the economy three years ago and nobody’s held responsible for that. Not a single person has been indicted or convicted for destroying 20 percent of our national net worth accumulated over the course of two centuries. They’re upset about the fact that Wall Street has iron control over the economic policies of this country. And that one party is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street. And the other party caters to them as well. That’s what they’re upset about....
Listen, if I am a spokesman for all the people who think we should not have 24 million people in this country who can’t find a full-time job, that we should not have 50 million people in this country who can’t see a doctor when they’re sick, that we shouldn’t have 47 million people in this country who need government help in order to feed themselves, and we shouldn’t have 15 million families who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home, okay, I’ll be that spokesman.
Grayson got a standing ovation for that impassioned defense of OWS. After winning back his seat by a 25-point margin, Grayson will be back in the Capitol bringing the heat to the GOP.
The election of Warren and Grayson doesn’t match the 87 seats won by tea partyers in the Republican sweep of 2010. But after complaining for months that OWS failed to learn the chief lesson of the tea party (take the protest from the streets to the halls of power), it’s good to see that the movement has two people in Congress who embody its ideals. Not that Occupy had anything to do with it.