From an old pal of mine:
I read a headline just now about OCCUPY protesters shutting down the NY Stock Exchange. It's a kind of politics that Romney could conceivable rally much of the country around, as Nixon did around the anti-Vietnam demonstrations. God Alone Knows the outcome.Of course this was a Facebook 'what's on your mind' post, a context in which people seldom show to good advantage, with one or two exceptions on my own modest 'friends' list. Most people are better in the 3D world; if all I knew about my friends was what I see on Facebook, few of them would still be my friends.
A friend of the friend replied to my worried friend, no doubt with the intent to reassure:
I think the democrats kept their distance from OWS pretty well, so they are not tarnished by them in general.This is kinda the logical landing-place for people who are really into electoral politics: extra-electoral activism -- which is of course the only thing that ever really makes anything happen -- is worrisome, because it might provoke backlash. More than that: it's deplorable and must be kept at a distance, so that one faction of frauds can prevail over another in the electoral process -- America's Next Top Murderer, you might call it.
So for these two folks, OWS -- which is certainly the most interesting, important and constructive thing to have happened in American life since the 60s -- is chiefly to be considered in its bearings on the electoral hopes of Barack Rombama, surely one of the least interesting phenomena in American life, ever, and a first-class creep and friend of creeps, into the bargain.
I thought I had written a long essay, once, on backlash and fear of backlash, but if I really did -- if I didn't just dream it, and think it really happened -- it wasn't on this site. Maybe back in my tiny-newspaper days?
Anyway, here's the elevator pitch: the notion of backlash is useful only to centrists -- people who at bottom loathe and distrust actual popular upheaval. Recall that the term was invented during the civil-rights movement of the 60s, when good liberal folks were afraid that wild men like Martin Luther King might provoke 'backlash'.
Of course, it's obvious now that if the wild men had been worried about backlash, we would still have 'colored' entrances to public buildings, as was the case when I was a lad.