Obama couldn't have done it without Romney. But he couldn't have done it without Occupy Wall Street, either. In fact he needed Occupy Wall Street first, in order to make full, effective use of Romney. Here's what I mean.
Two days ago, the world watched the duel between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Who will win, people asked themselves? The "black Muslim Socialist," as Obama was often decried by his adversaries, or the "white Mormon capitalist," as Romney was often depicted by his detractors? Black vs. white? Modest origins vs. rich upbringing? Democrats vs. Republicans? Intellectual vs. popular education? Regardless of which side we were supporting, the two men represented the divide of a worn-out American society. They became, willingly or unwillingly, icons of their respective camps.
The election is over, and President Barack Obama will continue as the 44th president of the United States. There will be much attention paid by the pundit class to the mechanics of the campaigns, to the techniques of microtargeting potential voters, the effectiveness of get-out-the-vote efforts. The media analysts will fill the hours on the cable news networks, proffering post-election chestnuts about the accuracy of polls, or about either candidate's success with one demographic or another. Missed by the mainstream media, but churning at the heart of our democracy, are social movements, movements without which President Obama would not have been re-elected.