New York Times columnist Tom Friedman (11/9/11) went to India in order to appreciate how the grassroots movement to stamp out political corruption there is superior to Occupy Wall Street.
Still, he sees a common thread:
The world’s two biggest democracies, India and the United States, are going through remarkably similar bouts of introspection. Both countries are witnessing grassroots movements against corruption and excess. The difference is that Indians are protesting what is illegal–a system requiring bribes at every level of governance to get anything done. And Americans are protesting what is legal–a system of Supreme Court-sanctioned bribery in the form of campaign donations that have enabled the financial-services industry to effectively buy the U.S. Congress, and both political parties, and thereby resist curbs on risk-taking.
Hear, hear! Wall Street has bought the political process. But what can save us? A magical centrist internet-based third-party presidential candidate, that’s who!
What has brought millions of Indians into the streets to support the India Against Corruption movement and what seems to have triggered not only the Occupy Wall Street movement but also initiatives like AmericansElect.org–a centrist group planning to use the Internet to nominate an independent presidential candidate–is a sense that both countries have democratically elected governments that are so beholden to special interests that they can no longer deliver reform. Therefore, they both need shock therapy from outside.
Americans Elect is the brainchild of a group of hedge-fund investors–or, as a columnist named Tom Friedman once reported, it is “financed with some serious hedge-fund money.”
These are the people who are going to deliver a outsider shock to the system that will curb the influence of the financial services industry. Wall Street will save us from Wall Street?
Bonus irony: Democratic pollster Doug Schoen is the chief strategist for Americans Elect–the same Doug Schoen who was very recently proclaiming that Democrats should distance themselves from the Occupy Wall Street protests. As Jedd Legum pointed out, Schoen misrepresented that polling in a column for (where else?) the Wall Street Journal.