Occupy Wall Street’s articulate champion of the Nu-New Left, Jesse LaGreca, finally made it to air this Sunday when he was invited on ABC’s This Week with Christiane Amanpour. Watch the Daily Kos writer made famous by his un-aired Fox News interview hold his own against the likes of George Will and Peggy Noonan. We’ve also transcribed Mr. LaGreca’s segment below for those of you at work without headphones.
Christiane Amanpour: Okay, we’ve spoken a lot about them, now I’m going to bring in Jesse LaGreca, who is a blogger for the liberal website Daily Kos, and he’s been a fixture at the Wall Street Protests. So Jesse, you’ve been listening to all of these descriptions of your movement, where do you come down? We’ve talked about it being immature, it hasn’t had a policy, a sort of directives…what is it that you are trying to consolidate around there?
Jesse LaGreca: Well I think that the matter at hand is that the working class people in America – 99% of Americans who aren’t wealthy and aren’t prospering in this economy – have been entirely ignored by the media. Our political leaders pander to us but they don’t take action, they stand in the way of change, they filibuster on behalf of the wealthiest 1%, and they fold around the wealthiest 1%. So the conversation we need to have is about the future; what kind of country we really want to be. And I think the most important thing we can do in this occupation is to continue to push the narrative that’s been ignored by so many pundits and political leaders. I mean, the reality is that I’m the only working class person you’re going to see on Sunday news… political news… maybe ever. And I think that is very indicative of the failures of our media to report on the news that matter most importantly…
Christiane Amanpour: (cutting in)…We are trying our best, Jesse..
Jesse LaGreca: Thank you.
Christiane Amanpour: And I wanted to ask you: Some of your most vociferous supporters like our colleague Paul Krugman have spoken quite glowingly about this populist movement. And you’ve even heard people around this table say that it should be harnessed. But you also say that it’s the moment now to try and perhaps translate that into some kind of political question… political demand. Is there something that you can make this about?
Jesse LaGreca: I think the entire movement is about economic justice. I mean to me – and I’m not speaking on behalf of Occupy Wall Street, I’m just giving my personal opinion – I think it’s a matter of economic rights, and I think it’s a matter of social rights, and social justice. And to the people who would take offense to the word “social” being placed before the word “justice,” I’d invite them to re-read the Constitution.
Christiane Amanpour: Let me ask George Will, who wanted to ask you a short question.
George Will: Mr. LaGreca, I hear a certain dissonance in your message: Your message which is that Washington is corrupt, Washington is the handmaiden to powerful, and a lot of conservatives would agree with that. But then you say that this corrupt handmaiden to the powerful should be much more powerful in regulating our lives. Why would you want a corrupt government bigger in our lives?
Jesse LaGreca: You know, I find that a lot of these conversations about government tend to deflect away from Wall Street, because let’s be honest: the lobbyists have enormous power, and they’ve shut out a lot of the voice of the American people. So I think we should demand a government that is listening to people, and I find it ironic that when people demand action from their government, suddenly people tend to overreact and say “That is uncontrollable government.” Our government is a function of our democracy; by attacking our government we are attacking democracy. So to me, yes, I think the government should represent the will of the people, and if the will of the people are demanding action, then they should follow suite.
Christiane Amanpour: Do you think these demonstrations are going to have momentum? Is it going to continue now, day after day?
Jesse LaGreca: Absolutely. People are extremely excited about what we are doing. We’re engaging in a direct democracy conversation. I mean, the General Assembly is really the new town hall, and we don’t have filibusters, we don’t have lobbyists, we don’t have a system that can be co-opted. And I invite anybody to come down and talk to us.
(Ms. Noonan says some B.S. about the Brooklyn Bridge protests.)
Christiane Amanpour: You know we’re going to have to ask Jesse that really quickly. Jesse, are you going to harness this into a movement, or are you going to hang out for months?
Jesse LaGreca: You know what I find amusing is that now people are looking to us to solve the political problems…and they should. But I’m not going to support one party or the other, I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, but I will encourage you to be a voter. I think we have succeeded tremendously in pushing the narrative that working class people can no longer be ignored, and I think it’s very important that we have this conversation, because it is about the future of our country. You know, right now working class people are being told to sacrifice, we’re being told that our future is going to have to be put on hold in the name of austerity. And I can’t name another country that has succeeded their economic problems with austerity. So I think the important thing to do is to come out and speak to us: the town halls that you see are very top-heavy. Our political leaders come and try to sell us a message…they should be listening to us.