The ragtag gathering clustered around the folding tables in Lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park, which they referred to by its pre-2006, pre-corporate name of Liberty Square, were an amorphous bunch protesting the overwhelming power of the trans-national corporate megaliths that reigned over Western Plutocracy.
Occupy Wall Street wasn't yet an army, despite inspiring parallel protests in Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Occupy Wall Street's supporters managed to raise $8,000 for pizzas to feed the mostly-young stalwarts.
Meanwhile, the big money powers Occupy Wall Street were arrayed against had hundreds of millions of dollars at their disposal. The money those Goliaths funnelled into just one Super PAC, American Crossroads, and its affiliate, Crossroads GPS, a 501(c)4 group whose donors remained anonymous, aimed to flood the 2012 elections with $240 million for their right-wing Republican candidates.
The Crossroads groups spent $70 million in 2010 to put Republicans in control of the U.S. House of Representatives. They figured $240 million should be enough to defeat President Barack Obama and take over the U.S. Senate in 2012. The U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling that anonymous corporate donors could pump unlimited amounts of cash into elections cleared the way for Crossroads' donors to bludgeon the American electoral process with the blunt instruments of Mammon.
"I believe that I am not represented by the big interest groups and the big money corporations, which have increasing control of our money and our politics," OWS participant Elise Whitaker told The New York Times.
"Now, the energy, intensity and money is flowing to Republicans and to promote conservative causes," American Crossroads' Jonathan Collegio told The Politico. "Understandably, the left is anxious."
When 84% of America's wealth was concentrated into the hands of 20% America's wealthiest, a political process fueled by money was, for the vast majority, hardly a democratic one.
"This is what the Citizen's United decision has brought us to," said former Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, who lost his seat in 2010 after Republican money moguls spent millions to defeat him. "All of those Democrats are going to need to be prepared for the onslaught."
Former George W. Bush mastermind Karl Rove helped set up Crossroads in 2010, which has lately enlisted another of the GOP's most prolific fund raisers, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.
"Both Gov. Barbour and Karl Rove are prodigious fund raisers and brilliant strategists," said Crossroads president Steven Law. Barbour raised $115 million for the Republican Governors Association between 2009 and 2010. "We are reaching high in our fundraising goals because we believe this is going to be a destiny shaping-election for our country."
The destiny Crossroads and the GOP planned to shape for America was one in which tens of millions would be denied access to health care, in which seniors and future seniors would be denied Social Security and retirement pensions, and in which only the sons and daughters of the privileged elite could afford higher education. Not that any of those privileged sons and daughters would do anything at a university except drink and vomit and spend trust fund checks.
Crossroads and the GOP were eager to implement their Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) retooled scheme to dismantle Medicare, Medicaid and even employer-sponsored health insurance benefits, forcing everyone to buy expensive private insurance policies, and pawning everyone off with scant aid from limited 'premium support' tax credits. That way, the rich could enjoy nice taxpayer-funded discounts off pricey private insurance plans they were going to buy anyway, while most Americans would become uninsured and be frozen out of health care completely. Crowds of Tea Party zealots waited their chance to taunt and chant "let them die."
Crossroads and the GOP were eager to plunder all the money in the Social Security Trust Funds, and hand the cash to their Wall Street cronies to pile onto the roulette wheel of international equity markets while pawning Americans off with nothing at all. While the money changers always got their rake, nothing at all was what anyone who'd spent the last ten years buying shares in an S&P 500 index fund got, seeing how the index was at 1,147.39 on October 1, 2001, and closed today at 1,123.95.
The destiny Crossroads and the GOP planned for America was one in which the wealthy and the big corporations got even fatter and surlier as ever more and bigger tax cuts, tax breaks, and tax subsidies transferred ever more of the nation's wealth from the many to the few.
America had once been a country where progressive income taxes created a nation for the middle class, where ordinary people pooled their money and acted through government to provide for themselves public schools, freeways, affordable health care and pensions for the aged, and the promise of a better life for all.
Crossroads and the GOP preferred a country where tax cuts, breaks and subsidies gave the rich a free ride, while anyone who couldn't pay top dollar was consigned to misery, squalor and death.
And, the Crossroads Groups were just two of many groups funded by the torrents of cash trans-national plutocrats siphoned out of America and funnelled into their coffers. Coal magnates Charles and David Koch, with $50 billion between them, would hardly miss a billion or two should it vanish between the seat cushions over at Americans for Prosperity. Rupert Murdoch, a pauper with just $7 billion, could still throw a Tea Party or three.
The ragtag assemblage milling about the folding tables at Liberty Square weren't yet an army. For democracy to stand a chance, they would have to become one.