Think about it. When the tea party got real angry, folks who adhered to its overarching concerns about federal spending and overreach made their voices heard in protests in Washington. But they weren’t content to simply protest. Whether out of conviction or co-opting by Dick Armey or the Koch brothers, those protesters became office seekers. They upended the Republican establishment by running primary challenges to the right of sitting members of Congress — and winning. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) is the most recent example. They provided the GOP the majority it needed to take back the House in 2010. And their resistance to raising the debt ceiling last summer put the full faith and credit of the United States at risk, called into question House Speaker John Boehner’s ability to control his caucus and forced President Obama to make a debt-ceiling deal that was less than ideal.
For all the power it exhibited last fall in changing the national conversation, I’m hard pressed to see what OWS has accomplished since then. Occupy Chicago had a list of grievances that included protesting Boeing for its role in war, climate change, income inequality, gay rights, women’s rights and foreclosures. All legitimate concerns. But if OWS is going to transition from protest to real political power that translates to the change it says it wants, the movement must field candidates who proudly carry the OWS banner. The Tea Party of the Left, if you will.