Over the last few months, a number of upstart movements and candidates have dominated polls and news coverage by being both radical and a bit less than controlled. Now, seemingly at the same time, they’re beginning to fall.
Last week, Cain’s poll numbers continued to slide in the midst of a sexual harassment scandal, and many Democratic mayors, who once expressed sympathy for their city’s occupy movements, were beginning to lose their patience. Remarkably, both are faring better than Rick Perry, who spent a minute struggling for words before settling for an “oops.”
The brief flirtation with, and sudden fall of, a candidate is typical in a primary season, but the sudden crackdowns that occupy protestors face have the potential to spark a battle for certain street corners and, hopefully, an interesting debate on the freedom of assembly.
Occupy Oakland, one of the most volatile occupy protests, was the first to be shut down by police. It’s hard to blame police there for wanting to bring an end to the only occupy protest that has taken to destroying storefronts and allegedly killing each other.
Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia increased the police presence around the rally after a sexual assault occurred in one of the camps. Mayors of almost every other city are growing tired of the collection of homeless, unemployed or crazy people who have overrun the occupy camps.
I’m not saying that there aren’t any legitimate protestors left, but I agree with Nutter. From what I’ve seen in coverage from a number of cities, (notice I said cities and not college campuses) these are different protests now. Protestors in Denver went as far as trying to get the police to hit them.
In both the cases of Occupy Wall Street and Cain, big ideas are falling victim to big scandals, and justifiably so. Once the occupiers started using violence, their right to peaceful assembly turned into a public safety issue. Cain’s ignore-reality attitude during scandals could be a good indicator of how he’d act when faced with a tough decision as president.
I’m not someone who sees scandals as a distraction from the issues, but as a necessary form of character assessment. Staying “on issue” would be a gift to the powerful, though slightly eccentric, groups and people who would like to argue, often against logic, that their ideas are absolutely right.
So let’s learn from Occupy Wall Street that the concentration of wealth is a bad thing, but not forget that camping out in the street is a bad idea, too. As for Cain, I think the sooner people stop exploring the viability of a flat tax plan, the better. If a media circus needs to be involved, then so be it.