The Occupy Wall Street movement may have lost the battle, but it won the war for President Obama.
Yes, Occupy encampments were kicked out of parks and public squares across the country. Yes, they sullied their own reputation with rapes, drug abuse, and intentional acts of vandalism and destruction. Yes, they burned through hundreds of thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it. When it came to election day, however, their messaging handed Barack Obama a second term in office. It was the Occupy messaging of the 99% versus the 1%, their focus on income inequality and creating villains out of the rich, that became the central themes of the Obama campaign.
The nomination of Mitt Romney gave them the perfect foil: a successful businessman whose moderate temperament would limit his ability to push back on the avowedly anti-capitalist, anti-achievement, pro-government dependency with anywhere near the ferocity that was being aimed at him.
The Occupy movement appealed to youth culture, and the youth vote was indeed strong for President Obama on election day. Given the insanely high unemployment rate for our nation’s young people, it’s shocking that they would vote for four more years of disaster. But they did, and the discontent raised by Occupy obviously captured their imagination.
Discontent, obviously, was the whole point. One of the reasons the Occupy movement did not present solutions is that the goal of that type of community organizing that Barack Obama was schooled in is not about offering solutions; it’s about nearly stirring up misery. At that, Occupy excelled. By combining hopeless misery with a party atmosphere, the Occupy movement was able to create a magnet for disaffected youth. For these potential voters, 1% or Romney was never going to be an option. They had already been told the solution by Occupy – more government.
Many people on the right dismissed the Occupy movement, but as the film Occupied Unmasked showed, conservative fighter Andrew Breitbart was prescient on it. Though the movement seemed to die down, Breitbart News has repeatedly shown that it will continue to rise again because it’s actually part of the long-standing "peace and justice" movement that started in the 1960s and lives today in the direct actions of Occupy affiliated groups such as labor unions and Code Pink.
Many of the people in the Occupy movement would never support Barack Obama, who they see as a warmonger and crony capitalist -- charges that are correct to a great extent. However, Obama and the institutional left weren’t banking on the support of the relatively small group of occupiers. What they were relying on was their big government message would seep deeply into the culture and turbocharge a flailing and failing administration.
Given the results on Election Day that brought us four more years of Barack Obama, expect many more years of Occupy.