[FOR] the anti-institutionalists, realizing one simple point is crucial: as long as Republicans are in power, no amount of protest will move them. Over a million people could camp out on the National Mall for months at a time, and nothing would change. Speaker Boehner and his caucus of Tea Party nutcases simply will not be moved except by one action and one alone: booting them out of office. The chances of their addressing the grievances of the majority of the American People are less than nil, regardless of the public pressure placed upon them.
And yet, for the institutionalists, it’s also critical to recognize just how damaging the last 30 years of Democratic acquiescence to conservative ideology has been for not only the Democratic brand, but for the nation’s belief in the power of electoral politics to create change.
It is quite literally impossible to say with a straight face that working to elect more or even better Democrats will actually create the change necessary to address the grievances being expressed in Zuccotti Park. It’s laughable. That ship has been sailing away for decades, and disappeared completely over the horizon with the disappointment of January 2009 through November 2010 and beyond. It is painfully obvious that electoral politics alone are utterly inadequate to deal with the nation’s problems.
The reality is that putting Democrats in power is a necessary but insufficient condition to creating real change in this country.
Republicans are ideologically opposed to creating the necessary changes, and are more afraid of being primaried by an even more crazy conservative, than of even the biggest protest movements from the left. Democrats, meanwhile, are ideologically compatible with most of the changes, but are variously stymied by the system, blinkered by a desire for “compromise,” fearful of conservative anger, or corrupted by the influence of big money.
In order for change to take place, good Democrats do need to be in power. But only an angry and motivated populace angry with both Parties and strongly intent on holding Democrats accountable will scare and motivate Democrats enough to do what they were elected to do.