On Wednesday, I wrote a piece for Salon showing how a few top Republicans were starting to appreciate -- at least rhetorically -- the power of the Occupy Wall Street message. Admittedly, I wrote the piece with a bit of wishful thinking. I didn't expect Rush Limbaugh, for example, to really believe what he was saying, but I did suggest that his use of such harsh 99-percent-versus-1-percent language validates the genuine agency of the message. If Rush sees that message and feels compelled to pretend to get it, then it is indeed powerful.
Now, just 48 hours later, it seems the trend is intensifying -- in a more concrete way that may mean something more than mere linguistic illusion. On the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal -- aka the biggest altar of corporate worship in the entire capitalist cathedral -- none other than Sarah Palin has published a scathing manifesto that could be Xeroxed and handed out at any Occupy demonstration across the country.
Though Palin, ahem, glosses over her own troubling personal record on issues of elite power abuse and corruption, the substance of her editorial will likely warm the heart of any protestor out on the streets. Here's an excerpt:
The corruption isn't confined to one political party or just a few bad apples. It's an endemic problem encompassing leadership on both sides of the aisle. It's an entire system of public servants feathering their own nests...
What are the solutions? We need reform that provides real transparency. Congress should be subject to the Freedom of Information Act like everyone else. We need more detailed financial disclosure reports, and members should submit reports much more often than once a year. All stock transactions above $5,000 should be disclosed within five days.
We need equality under the law. From now on, laws that apply to the private sector must apply to Congress, including whistleblower, conflict-of-interest and insider-trading laws. Trading on nonpublic government information should be illegal both for those who pass on the information and those who trade on it...
No more sweetheart land deals with campaign contributors. No gifts of IPO shares. No trading of stocks related to committee assignments. No earmarks where the congressman receives a direct benefit. No accepting campaign contributions while Congress is in session. No lobbyists as family members, and no transitioning into a lobbying career after leaving office. No more revolving door, ever.
This call for real reform must transcend political parties. The grass-roots movements of the right and the left should embrace this...
Palin, of course, is as big of an opportunist as our political culture produces. But then, every politician on the national stage is an opportunist. As a rule, you don't get to be a U.S. congressman, Senator or president without being a narcissistic, self-focused, would-fleece-your-own-mother-to-get-elected opportunist. In a sense, politics at that level is rarely ever about ideals and "good guys" and "bad guys" -- it's about a bunch of opportunists getting together and seeing whose self-interest wins.
So the fact that Palin (or Limbaugh or Coburn or any other conservative) is an opportunist is actually the most important and encouraging point of all -- she shows how one of the conservative movement's leading icons now sees a major political opportunity in these kinds of progressive/populist proposals. That is, she exemplifies how the perception of political self-interest and opportunity is now shifting so fast toward the Occupy Wall Street sentiment, that even some icons of the right are seeing a bigger opportunity in championing that sentiment than in remaining rhetorically loyal to the corporate establishment. And the fact that Palin has now gone a step further than Limbaugh and matched the rhetoric with a series of substantive policy proposals -- and then branded those proposals as transpartisan -- is a good sign that this shift is bringing us closer to true legislative change.