Every week, The New Yorker hosts live chats with their authors where readers can ask questions. It’s my favorite thing about their website. This week, Hendrik Hertzberg has some great responses to questions about Occupy Wall Street, which he’s written about twice for Talk of the Town. Here are a few gems from that conversation.
1. QUESTION FROM ARF : The GOP establishment co-opted the Tea Party very early on, pushing the grass roots activists to GOP “free market” ideals and goals. HOwever, since President Obama has exhibited 3 years of compromise, where can OWS go for political allegiance and activism with no 3rd party in sight?
HENDRIK HERTZBERG: I’d like to see OWS, or at least OWS people, get involved in Congressional and state legislative races. A third party, though, would be a disaster for what OWS wants as well as for Obama and the Democrats. The Presidential choice will be between Obama and a Republican who is deeply hostile to what OWS is about. For all of Obama’s compromises, etc., isn’t that choice a no-brainer?
2. QUESTION FROM CAPITAL : I am really amused how the supporters of the protests think that the fact that they are “regular” people is a selling point. I, for one, don’t want major policy decisions made by people who mean well, but don’t understand the issues.
HENDRIK HERTZBERG: That’s an argument against populism generally, not just OWS. Indeed, it’s an argument against democracy.
3. QUESTION FROM RUDE : You need the “1%” they are New Yorker subscribers. Who else would buy $15,000 Chopard watches and Hermes stuff that you advertise ?
HENDRIK HERTZBERG: Our dear readers will still be able to afford that stuff even if they have to pay as much taxes as they did when Bill Clinton, George Bush senior, and Richard Nixon were President.
4. QUESTION FROM DEE : Do you think it is possible that OWS and Tea Party could ever become viable 3rd (and 4th) party movements? And if so, do you think that would be a good thing, or would it further polarize and alienate the American people?
HENDRIK HERTZBERG: This is a complicated question, but, at the risk of beating one of my favorite dead horses, we don’t really have “parties” in the sense that most democracies do. The Democratic and Republican “parties” are really more like baseball leagues. The Tea Party is like a team in the Republican League, and as of now they’ve won the pennant. I wish OWS could understand that they’re essentially a team in the Democratic League. Otherwise I don’t see how they ever get into the political World Series.
Read more here.