Obama supporters, not health care protesters, are real mob
By: Roger Abbott and Iain Murray Special to The Examiner
This is run as an op-ed in the San Francisco Examiner:
President Barack Obama’s supporters have marginalized upstart protesters by referring to them as angry Astroturf mobs doing the bidding of talk radio and Big Pharma. Yet, there is, in fact, a radical, divisive, mass movement on the march — on the left.
In his seminal work on mob behavior, “The True
Believer,” Eric Hoffer provides a compelling analysis of the conditions
necessary for a revolutionary movement to attract a mass following. He writes:
“For men to plunge headlong into an undertaking of vast change, they must be intensely discontented yet not destitute, and they must have the feeling that by the possession of some potent doctrine, infallible leader or some new technique they have access to a source of irresistible power. They must also have an extravagant conception of the prospects and potentialities of the future. Finally, they must be wholly ignorant of the difficulties involved in their vast
undertaking. Experience is a handicap. The men who started the French Revolution were wholly without political experience. The experienced man of affairs is a latecomer. He enters the movement when it is already a going concern.” [Emphasis ours.]
It’s striking how closely Hoffer’s description — written in 1951 — matches Obama’s movement today. Most “netroots” activists who
rallied around Obama were not impoverished victims, but affluent, mostly white activists with visions of a new, “progressive” America.
They invested their hopes and dreams in Obama, as did a number of disenchanted moderates and Republicans. The utopian expectation that Obama could exorcise the country’s sins and conflicts was extravagant. He also lacked executive experience.
The town hall and Tea Party protesters, in contrast, make for a poor mass movement, however discontented they may be. They do not feel empowered — quite the opposite — they have no charismatic leader, no majorities in Congress, nor a clear, overarching alternative agenda to support.
As always go read it all.