The "moral argument" of the Occupy movement have been unfairly tarnished by violence and as well as frittered away by the group's lack of Tea Party-like political mobilization. That's the consensus of the liberal panelists on today's edition of MSNBC's Now with Alex Wagner.
The Nation magazine contributor Ari Melber kicked things off by blaming the recent violence and vandalism of the Occupy Oakland demonstrators on the "system" as it were, blaming police for excessive force against the well-meaning masses. [MP3 audio here; video coming shortly]
"I think this is a movement that is showing what happens when you politically participate in ways that are not sanctioned," Melber groused, noting that some police officers "have been excessive with their force" because "people aren't doing the sanctioned parade or the sanctioned political activity."
Apparently going through the proper legal and constitutional channels of securing permits and paying for use of park space is tantamount to censorship to Melber, who complained that "if we saw this footage from another country, we would be shocked, we should be shocked."
At that point, a worried Wagner asked "whether there's a concern about the message getting thinned too much" what with that the squatters' movement seeming to have no one furthering the "demands" and "policy asks" of the demonstrators.
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"They have a huge, super-powerful moral argument," insisted Time magazine's Mark Halperin adding:
[T]heir mistake is to not be part of politics as the Tea Party movement did. It had a huge impact on America, they've got just as strong a moral argument and I think they're squandering it.
Northwestern University professor Victoria DeFrancesco Soto followed up by worrying that the Republican voter base could be whipped up to vote in November in horror at the violence of the Occupy movement, prompting Wagner to react, "This sort of gives fuel to the contention that they're rabble-rousing, lawbreakers that don't want to --" DeFrancesco Soto then cut Wagner off, finishing Wagner's thought, "Because they haven't, yet, gone to the formal modes of democracy."
Melber took DeFrancesco Soto's spin even further, asserting that the Occupy movement was too busy "thinking about decades, not this November" to be concerned with short-term political change.
"The moral argument gets watered down with the violence... if we keep seeing that, it's going to hurt not just the movement but Democrats," DeFrancesco Soto added in closing out the panel's discussion.