Unintended Consequences

The only immutable law of the universe, political as well as physical, is the law of unintended consequences. History is replete with examples of leaders heading off in one direction only to find themselves elsewhere. It’s sort of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle applied to human behavior. Once we form a plan its very existence changes the facts on which the plan, is based and sends us sideways.

Witness for example the President’s decision to pursue aggressively healthcare reform in the first months of his first term. (Yes, Virginia, there will be a second term). This decision sent Congress home for the summer recess with healthcare the focus of a fierce blowback against Washington that literally roared into the town hall meetings of August. It was in the cauldron of those meetings that the inchoate anger amongst a largely exurban swath of the American public bubbled up into an organized Tea Party movement. In the most American manner imaginable, the Tea Party asserted itself, sent scores of followers to Congress in 2010 and changed Washington in an unintended and consequential manner.

In a confirmation of the immutability of this law of unintended consequences, Occupy Wall Street is now taking the Tea Party’s success and challenging its supremacy. Just as the Tea Party arose from the healthcare debate, so too has Occupy arisen from the ashes of the debt ceiling debacle. It is no coincidence that OWS began as a postscript to the August spectacle of the Tea Party caucus holding the country hostage as it demanded spending cuts without revenue enhancement. We were subjected to the sad spectacle of the President’s efforts at a Grand Bargain being destroyed by a minority of the Republican majority in the House. Can it be doubted that this pathetic pageantry was a tipping point for those who are now occupying Wall Street and elsewhere?

And so it goes. Plan begets changed facts that beget unintended consequences that beget a new plan that begets etc. Fasten your seat belts, America, as we see what unintended consequences Occupy Wall Street spawns.

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Posted in Articles, Mark Alderman, Occupy Wall Street, Tea Party, Washington, D.C.

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For many businesses, nothing seems more remote than the maneuvering of Beltway insiders. But what happens in Washington and in state and local government is critically important to your company and your industry. With government more involved in business than at any time since the 1930s, organizations that can negotiate the government labyrinth of politics, policy, and process will come out on top.
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