Two headline-making dramas-the radical Occupy Wall Street/Oakland/Everywhere movement and the conservative Occupy the White House movement now headed by Herman Cain-have one thing in common: They are fueled by distrust.
The Occupy movement started out as a mix of jobless young people with big college loans, aging leftists yearning to create the good old days of the '60s, and others justifiably concerned about bank insiders receiving bailouts. The Occupy movement is now selfish acting-out that hurts the 99 percent whom the movement ostensibly wants to help.
Shutting down the Port of Oakland means lost shifts and jobs for maritime workers, truckers, and many others. Occupy Wall Street has hurt small businesses around Zuccotti Park. As Milk Street Café owner Marc Epstein said after laying off 21 workers, "The end result is that I and all the wonderful people who work for me are collateral damage."
Other damage is coming as some Occupiers turn destructive by shattering windows and setting fires, and as their campgrounds start to self-destruct through theft, rape, and other weeds that grow in anarchy's soil (see "Hostile takeovers"). Mayors around the country need to tell Occupiers that it's time for them to go home.
The Herman Cain movement is positive, not negative, but it too has grown through distrust of professional politicians and their media accomplices. On Nov. 3 it was too early to tell whether gossip and legal settlements related to purported Cain sexual harassment during the 1990s would sink his campaign, but those rumors also should not lead Christian conservatives to redouble support for him.
The flip side of liberal distrust of bankers is conservative distrust of reporters, yet it's important for potential negatives about candidates to come out during the primary season, and to see whether candidates can pass stress tests.
Stress tests also tell us a lot about our country. Right now the United States is a disunited land ruled by distrust. Republicans are adamant against tax hikes because they justifiably have no trust that Washington will spend additional revenues intelligently. Democrats who want tax hikes distrust the private sector. Barack Obama gained election because moderates saw him as a uniter who could decrease distrust, but instead he is promoting class-based distrust.
The Occupy and Cain movements both remind us that a republic is a faith-based political system. We want to believe that leaders we elect care more for the interests of their constituents than the expansion of their own power. Sometimes Americans decry politicians, but politics is an art (not a science) best practiced by extroverts who like meeting with people all day long and are then willing to adjust their policies to satisfy the better desires of those they represent. When mayors or presidents out of ideology or fear let special interests rule in streets and suites, we need to elect leaders who listen.
Six months since the first GOP presidential candidates entered the 2012 presidential race, the popularity of each in the polls continues to gyrate, with businessman Herman Cain taking the latest lead as of late October, before sexual harassment allegations put his candidacy in the hot seat.