Fiction or not, some are suggesting that it's inevitable that this current protest movement becomes violent. Me, I think that's a choice, and a bad choice at that. Let's not mistake brainless embrace of frustration with the likelihood that others will be eager to join such a revolution after the fact.
The game we're playing here is one of building a movement, pushing it's roots throughout society. The Republicans had their chance to push back against the movement that gave our party back it's leadership, and they got that rock pretty far up the hill. They could do so because messages of nihilism, which are their specialty, are far easier to build movements on. Destroy something!
Once you get past the adolescent urge to blow shit up, though, the more difficult truth will become apparent: the Democrats will get nowhere, with their emphasis on civic virtue, on the rule of law, on reining in those whose behavior threatens our society by depending on nihilism.
We don't come here to destroy, we come here to recreate something that existed before, and can exist again: a world where the unearned and unjust concentration of wealth in the hands of the few is not reinforced by policy.
Symbolic victories built on fear and hate won't win the day. We need the rest of America together with us. We cannot be seen to be trying to force our hand by violence. Our force must come from our ideas, and how they compel and inspire those who hear and see us speak of them. They must feel that something is happening in this country, that something is coming unstuck in our politics, that gives them hope that what we fight against can be rolled back, undone.
If things degenerate into violence, that's it for any real kind of revolution worth the name. It all gets cast as liberal thugs trying to destroy capitalism, wage real class war on the rich, etc. It all plays into the rhetorical approach of a party that has been portraying liberals as brainless thugs for decades.
If the powers that be decide to disperse things by violence, then they will be the ones who reveal themselves to be the radicals and the thugs. They will be the ones who sacrificed their legitimacy by throwing the first punch.
They can knock our bodies down, but they can't defeat our spirits if we get back up, and simply stand, confident in what we believe in.
They can blind folks with pepper spray, but they won't be able to blind people to their cowardly unwillingness to be held accountable, to their abuse of power and contempt for the average American.
They can round people up and throw them in jail for protesting what Wall Street's done, but they can't punish away what motivates people to come and risk their freedom and even their flesh and blood.
If you see things just in terms of violence, if you seek a confrontation, then you play the game on the Republican's term. The Republicans would love a riot to crack down on.
We can do better than that. They can justify clubbing a person rioting. They can't explain quite so clearly why they smacked down somebody who didn't raise a hand to them. Let's be the ones who can appeal to the best aspirations of this nation's history, to the spirit of Martin Luther King, to the spirit of Henry David Thoreau's civil disobedience.
Let's not be like those belligerent tea party members, who brandish their guns and their ignorance, and then wonder why people show them such fear and contempt. Intimidation tactics and violence are the refuge of the desperate and those who cannot persuade others by any other means. That is not true of us. We have the right message for these times. We need not sink down to the level of our adversaries. Some would have us fight fire with fire, and never think to fight it with water, with cool heads and disciplined resolve.