The Occupy Wall Street movement has acquired a significant amount of attention over the past few weeks, but the most common criticism, perhaps improperly applied, has been that the movement lacks a cohesiveness. There are no prominent leaders or big names which come to mind when you think of OWS. The question then, is, should OWS have a leader or leaders?
At first glance, the obvious answer would be Yes. Creating a figurehead to lead the movement would silence the critics who have demanded clarity in the OWS movement. It would be an easy fix.
Or would it?
You see, just like any other movement which originates on the Left, no amount of positioning, messaging, or symbolism will appease the critics, especially those on the Right. Asking for leaders to rise up out of OWS is simply one more straw man argument in a long line of straw men. No matter what OWS does, the media critics and the Right Wing Machine will stop at nothing to delegitimize OWS. At least those of us on the Left gave credence to the Tea Party, even if we did criticize them. We accepted their complaint that the federal government was broken. We accepted that government spending was out of control. We just didn't agree on the solutions.
OWS has not been provided the same courtesy, nor will it.
Established leaders in the OWS movement will become nothing more than lightning rods, people faced with an onslaught of insults and dismissal, the likes of which have been illustrated in Right Wing responses to Elizabeth Warren, Rachel Maddow, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and yes, Barack Obama. Mention unions to a right winger and watch how fast they choose to ramble on and on about how evil they are. OWS will evoke the same response. The lazy/welfare/hippie stigma is applied to anything on the Left as a way to invigorate the Right Wing base. It's almost as common as their idea that tax cuts will fix everything. Conservatives only know how to think in those two terms. They won't deviate from the flock. It is better to keep OWS decentralized and broad based than to put someone in charge. As long as OWS remains broad, it will be symbolic of the American people, not "liberal" as used in the derogatory sense.
After all, the Right Wing pundits have to feed their dogs frothing at the mouth somehow, right?