In last night’s State of the Union Address, President Obama offered a modest agenda that he proposed to enact “with or without Congress”—mostly through executive orders. For those of us who voted for him in 2008, it was a call to ambivalence. It would be nice to see the President do things like raise the minimum wage for federal contractors or curb carbon emissions, and Congress has certainly made Washington less effective by its recalcitrant opposition. But if an adversarial relationship with Congress is the problem, enacting minor policies by presidential fiat will only exacerbate it. And at this moment in our federal government, do we want to give more power to the executive branch?
The protestors who camped out on the streets of New York’s financial district as part of Occupy Wall Street did not disrupt much. Mostly, they blended in with the other people camping on the streets of New York as part of the ongoing Don’t Have a Place to Live demonstration, which also is probably related to Wall Street. That’s what OWS is upset about, kind of. The ostensibly leaderless group convened in order to show that they will “no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.” They did it by going down to Zuccotti Park and tolerating it in person, shortly before they decamped to tolerate it from a distance in Union Square and also before they got rounded up in plastic netting and pepper sprayed.