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Buddy Roemer: Occupy Wall Streeters = Good Americans

I just spoke by phone to GOP presidential candidate Buddy Roemer [1], the former Louisiana governor elected in 1987 as a reformer heading what was then called the “Roemer Revolution.” He was driving himself to a TV interview in New Hampshire when I reached him by cell. I was intrigued by his statement [2]earlier today in support of the Occupy Wall Street protests. In the press release, Roemer said:

Wall Street grew to be a source of capital for growing companies. It has become something else: A facilitator for greed and for the selling of American jobs. Enough already.

Could Buddy Roemer, a one-term Louisiana governor and a 67-year-old Baton Rouge banker, be a real conservative populist? I caught him shortly after reading his tweet [3] upbraiding Herman Cain’s criticism of the Occupy Wall Street protesters as “un-American.” Roemer told me that Cain had unfairly insulted “young men and women who are protesting business as usual. And business as usual has gotten us eaten alive with crony capitalism.

“How do we choose our president now? By who can raise the most money from a few people,” he continued. “That’s un-American. I expected more from Herman Cain. I thought he was clearly off base by taking this approach. I challenge him on making that sort of statement, and coming down against these young people. I think it’s wrong.”

I asked Roemer why conservatives should be sympathetic with a protest movement that, so far, has been wholly an expression of the Left.

“I think conservatives believe in first principles. They believe that hard work should be rewarded. They believe that this country is great because it’s been generally free. And conservatives see that that’s disappearing. They see now that a big check can take the place of a big idea. They see now that the structure is not for the base, but is for the peak. It’s for the top one or two percent. They see Wall Street riddled with fraudulent documents. They see it riddled with the attitude of “let’s fire Americans and go overseas.” They see it riddled with things that have had and will have bad effects on this economy.”

“We have almost permanent unemployment,” he continued. “They say it’s nine percent, but the real unemployment rate is more like 16 percent. These are people there are no jobs for, or they have to work part time to try to make ends meet. It’s disturbing. the Wall Street protest is unshaped, unfocused, but there’s a lot of power in it. We need the courage to go back to conservative principles — that is, the reward of hard work, the sense of fair play, the belief in individual strength rather than government solutions. To me, the Wall Street protests reflect all these sorts of things.”

But what does Roemer, who was a Harvard-educated banker before he got into Louisiana politics, and has been a banker for the past 16 years, feel when he sees the drumming circles, the dreadlocks, and other theatrical aesthetic displays typical of the cultural left dominating the images from the protests. Isn’t that off-putting to the kind of conservatives he wishes to speak for, and speak to?

“It really doesn’t bother me at all,” he said. “I bet a lot of these young people have never voted, but should. I bet a lot never started a small business, but they should think about doing that. I bet a lot of these people haven’t formed their full beliefs. But let me tell you, I have a certain perspective on this. I heard the same objections to the civil rights movement from the business community, from those who had it made. They had the same objections then as they do to these young people.”

I mentioned to Roemer that it was striking to see a professional banker taking on his own class like this, by siding with the Occupy Wall Street protesters. What kind of Republican banker turns on bankers?

“That’s not the banking I know,” he said. “Man, you’ve been doing business with the Wall Street banks. They don’t care about you. They didn’t build their banks on you. They built their banks on big people, on what turned out to be fraudulent securities  trades. My bank [4] is worth two-thirds of a billion dollars. It never lost money. It never got a bailout. It’s built on individual relationships. See, the Wall Street banks are too big to fail, so they’re free to do things that a good banker wouldn’t do. They don’t have time for relationships. They’re looking for the next deal. The culprit here is a Congress that under Bill Clinton in 1998 and 1999 deregulated the Wall Street banks. It’s been a disaster.”

The interview ended there because Roemer had to get off the phone to go on the air. He still had a lot to say. Maybe it’s time the media and the GOP base — which demonstrably doesn’t want Mitt Romney — started listening. We don’t often hear old white Southern Republican bankers talking like that. I wish we did.

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35 Comments To "Buddy Roemer: Occupy Wall Streeters = Good Americans"

#1 Comment By Brian On October 6, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

Yeah, that’s mostly pretty good stuff. And perusing his positions and responses to letters on his webpage I haven’t seen any red flags yet. Now I’m the one to feel bad for having never heard of this guy!

The fact that he couldn’t beat Edwin Edwards or David Duke in his reelection bid suggests his tenure as governor must have been pretty miserable, though, doesn’t it?

#2 Comment By Rod Dreher On October 6, 2011 @ 4:19 pm

It was pretty miserable. I know, I was there. Roemer came to office after the state had endured a terrible recession, and people were fed up with business-as-usual from Gov. Edwards. He had a lot of support with his reform agenda, but he didn’t get nearly as far as he should have. As I recall, the rap on Roemer was that he and his people were so idealistic that they didn’t know how to work with the so-called “courthouse gang” — the well-entrenched Louisiana political establishment.

Louisiana has an open primary system, which means the top two vote-getters in the primary election advance to the general election. In 1991, all the blacks and yellow-dog white Democrats voted for Edwin Edwards in the primary. White racists and many working-class whites voted for David Duke in the primary. Roemer took the urban and suburban moderate Democratic and Republican vote — the “good government” vote — which put him in third. It was a horror show. I was a bigtime Roemerista back then, and felt obliged to put on my car a pro-Edwards bumper sticker saying: “Vote for the Crook. It’s Important.”

Pulling the lever for Edwin Edwards that year made me sick to my stomach. But we had no choice.

#3 Comment By Hunsdon On October 6, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

Rod remembered: “Vote for the Crook. It’s Important.”

Hunsdon replied: As a life-long Texan, I have always been glad that Louisiana was next door, to make our legislative assembly of morons, maroons, mugs, pugs, thugs and shysters look somewhat better. My grandparents lived in deep East Texas, and I followed LA politics when I’d stay with them. I remember that bumper sticker.

#4 Comment By Rod Dreher On October 6, 2011 @ 4:40 pm

And we Louisianians have always looked to Mississippi in the same way…

#5 Comment By Susan On October 6, 2011 @ 4:47 pm

I keep wondering why none in the GOP seem to be taking Roemer seriously as he is a SERIOUS threat to Obama while being a sincere and steadfast conservative. I’m not even saying he needs to be the nominee but for goodness sake why isn’t he part of the debates?!?!

#6 Comment By Hunsdon On October 6, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

I am sorry that I went sideways in my initial comment. A quick scan of his website is encouraging. The only bitter pill for me is the “Strengthening National Defense” section, which seems—-as, indeed, does every other candidates’ such section, save only one—-to sell the myth that we’re po’ defenseless America, and just need to double down on defense. Even there, I suppose I see a hint of relief in the line that “Ours is a great nation, worth fighting for.”

Why is this the first I’ve heard of Roemer’s run?

#7 Comment By steve On October 6, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

Roemer’s point about differentiating between small banks and the TBTF financials is important. Before economist Allison Snow died, she wrote about the importance of being brought up in a real community. Businessmen, and bankers, who grew up in tight communities, be it a small town or ethnic city neighborhood saw how businesses behaved in a moral fashion while making money. Their customers were their neighbors. Financial innovation meant offering a better product at a better price.

Now, we have kids who grow up apart from their broader community. They go to work for large financials where there is no sense of neighbor or neighborhood. There is no moral underpinning or sense of belonging to act as an internal brake to stop immoral behavior. At best, you can hope for amoral behavior. All too often, we get sociopaths.

Steve

#8 Comment By RedRabbit On October 6, 2011 @ 5:18 pm

RE:“It really doesn’t bother me at all,” he said. “I bet a lot of these young people have never voted, but should. I bet a lot never started a small business, but they should think about doing that.

This is a very minor objection, but isn’t it about time we got past this idea that small businesses are the solution to all our problems?

#9 Comment By Fake Herzog On October 6, 2011 @ 5:34 pm

Rod,

With all due respect to Mr. Roemer, who seems like a nice guy, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Herman Cain is right, those goof balls need to go home and get a life:

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The reason so many of us in the Republican party still find folks like the Occupy Wall Street protesters despicable, is because Wall Street is not the enemy — government entanglement with Wall Street is the enemy. Get the government out of the housing industry and back into the business of protecting people’s deposits and we’ll be fine.

#10 Comment By Turmarion On October 6, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

I could certainly get behind Roemer, based on what he’s said here.

#11 Comment By JonF On October 6, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

The one criticism I have of both Occupy Wall Street and Roemer’s comments is that this isn’t just about a few big banks– not by a long shot. The entire American corporatocracy has been screwing over its workers for years, and the banks are only a small part of that. And indeed I can testify from personal experience that Wall Street treats its employees rather better than many other industries do, paying solid middle class wages, offering good benefits (the kind almost everyone used to have) and with decent employment policies– for example, we are actually required to take our vacation time rather being pressured into not taking it as many employers do nowadays.
I think the protest net needs to be cast much much wider than Occupy Wall Street has, and yes, it even needs to include some of those “heroic entrepreneurs” everyone goes gaga over. Rod made a point in his Dark Side of Steve Jobs article: Apple often treated its workers like slaves, and Jobs was was responsible for much of that. And noawadys Apple outsources most of its work to China. So Roemer and the protesters can get back to mne when they start agitating to ban outsourcing and bring the jobs back home. Until we do that it’s just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

#12 Comment By Tim On October 6, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

For JonF: Buddy has been agitating on outsourcing; take a look at the C-SPAN broadcast of his speech in front of the Chinese embassy!! It was the first I’d heard from him and it started me on the road that’s brought me to hope he gets a chance to be in at least one debate; I think that he’ll get a lot of new supporters from there and who knows, it could be the beginning… . (I hope so!)

#13 Comment By thomas tucker On October 6, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

Up With Roemer!
Sounds good to me so far.

#14 Comment By Tiparillo On October 6, 2011 @ 7:11 pm

“feel when he sees the drumming circles, the dreadlocks, and other theatrical aesthetic displays typical of the cultural left dominating the images from the protests”

I think this says more about the media depiction and your own prejudices than anything about the “despicable” protesters. These comments neither look nor sound anything like the Portland protest that just ended. I’ll hope Rod and others take Gov. Roemer’s comments to heart.

I’ll also note the Prof. Larry Lessig has been promoting Roemer as well as his #rootstrikers movement, which is about taking the corruption out of politics.

#15 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 6, 2011 @ 7:26 pm

Roemer is right — when government last totally stayed out of Wall Street, the robber barons ran America. J.P. Morgan dragged us into WW I because he and his loans to England and France were “too big to fail.”

Clinton was trying to show how Reagan he could be when he went along with repealing Glass-Steagall. We’re still paying for it.

So the guy came in with a reform agenda everyone was excited about, but the courthouse gang didn’t play along because he wasn’t playing their game… sounds like our national administration the past three years.

#16 Comment By Jill On October 6, 2011 @ 7:30 pm

I am in love with Roemer. He makes sense. He’s a tough cookie. I couldn’t wait to donate my $100 after I learned about him.

He isn’t taking PAC money. He’s relying on Americans to spread the word. If we really want Roemer in office, WE THE PEOPLE will have to fight to get him in the debates. Right now, it’s the fat cats on Wall Street deciding for us.

#17 Pingback By The Occupy Wall Street candidate? (Politico) | Breaking News Today On October 6, 2011 @ 8:23 pm

[…] Here’s what he told American Conservative blogger Rod Dreher today: […]

#18 Pingback By The Occupy Wall Street candidate? (Politico) | NewsInformed.com On October 6, 2011 @ 8:32 pm

[…] Here’s what he told American Conservative blogger Rod Dreher today: […]

#19 Comment By JonF On October 6, 2011 @ 8:47 pm

Siarlys,
Glass-Steagall is iconic of the failure to mind the store while the thieves were looting it, but as practical matter it would not have made a whit of difference. Glass-Steagall prevented deposit banks from speculating in the stock market (and there’s still a regulation the keeps FDIC-insured deposits from being used for speculative investments). The engine of the housing bubble was mortgage securitization, which was out of the S-S Act’s purview as it barely existed back in the 30s.

#20 Pingback By The Occupy Wall Street candidate? (Politico) | Elections News On October 6, 2011 @ 8:56 pm

[…] Here’s what he told American Conservative blogger Rod Dreher today: […]

#21 Comment By Tiparillo On October 6, 2011 @ 9:05 pm

[6]

Yeah, just a bunch of dirty hippies

#22 Pingback By The Occupy Wall Street candidate? (Politico) | News Bulletins On October 6, 2011 @ 9:21 pm

[…] Here’s what he told American Conservative blogger Rod Dreher today: […]

#23 Comment By cecelia On October 6, 2011 @ 11:40 pm

I wonder if an attractive populist candidate like this fellow who will clearly be shut out by the bought and paid for MSM couldn’t mount a campaign utilizing the internet and social media? Certainly enough to get sufficient support that the MSM would have to pay attention to him.

#24 Pingback By Morning Political Roundup for October 7, 2011…Red Racing Horses On October 7, 2011 @ 10:32 am

[…] PresidentRoemer: Way to no longer be my 3rd favorite candidate, Buddy. He’s endorsing the Occupy Wall Street protests. Maybe he’s in the wrong primary? […]

#25 Comment By Kurt On October 7, 2011 @ 1:58 pm

“The engine of the housing bubble was mortgage securitization, which was out of the S-S Act’s purview as it barely existed back in the 30s.”

The smoking gun here points at the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which pre-empted state gaming laws that could otherwise have been used to prevent much of the ensuing chicanery.
[7]

#26 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 7, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

JonF, let’s just say that repealing Glass-Steagall was part of a trend, the idea that if government just steps back and lets the markets be creative (e.g., mortgage securitization was creative marketing) we will all be prosperous and nothing will ever go wrong again. Reagan’s first moment was unleashing the Savings and Loans to be bought up by wheeler dealers and milked — they went broke, the government bailed them out, the wheeler dealers laughed all the way to the next deal.

#27 Pingback By Buddy Roemer: The Occupy Wall Street candidate? On October 7, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

[…] Here’s what he told American Conservative blogger Rod Dreher today: […]

#28 Pingback By Beyond Wall Street, Protests Spread Across America – v i b r a n t f i n On October 7, 2011 @ 7:32 pm

[…] Buddy Roemer: Occupy Wall Streeters = Good Americans (American Conservative) But Republican president hopeful and former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer—as well as a number of conservatives—are siding with Occupy Wall Street. […]

#29 Comment By BQRealityBites On October 7, 2011 @ 11:04 pm

Doesn’t this sound alot like one of the points the Tea Party was making? Did not the Tea Party protest the government bailout before it happened? Did not the Tea Party cry for the marketplace to do it’s job and let the faild businesses – banks, brokers and mortgage brokers alike fail for making bad bets? Was it not the Tea Party who called for Ron Paul’s audit of the Federal Reserve to actually happen and for the Federal Reserve to be held accountable for it’s actions? Oh wait, it wasn’t supported by George Soros so regardless of what this true group of patriots called for it was ignored and the effort was to marginalize them int he press and call them racists. Hey,, how many “diverse” peoples can you spot in the pictures of the Occupiers? How many racist comments, anti Semite comments can you hear at the rallies? How many get reported? How about giving the Tea Party credit for drawing attention to these very same issues a few years back now and..and here’s the kicker..how about giving them credit for actually coming up with a coherent plan to move forward without destroying the country? Oh wait, responsibility and hard work are evil words and their attempt to show others the benefits of entrepreneurship and capitalism just aren’t in the liberal left media’s interest to bring to the public’s attention. BTW – how many of these people understand that it was the Democrat leaders of today that are actually responsible for the situation we’re in right now – most notably Barney Frank and Chris Dodd? How many of them know that Bush and the conservatives in early 2001 called upon te Congress to regulate and control the very practices that would lead us to the worst crisis of our lifetime and put us in the position where the Fed thinks it can do what it wants behind closed doors to hold off the inevitable? How many of them know it was Barney Frank who championed Fannie and Freddie – controllers of over 90% of the secondary mortgage market that blew up – knowing exactly what was going on and doing so because “every American deserves the American Dream of owning a home” -whether they could afford it or not – for political gain and power? How many of them know that the CRA is what triggered the creation of the derivatives and swaps that are at the heart of our problems as banks and lending institutions, who can employ people BECAUSE they can make a profit – without profit there are no jobs! Useful idiots the lot of them. Are protests needed? You bet! But how about getting these people educated to the truth before they become the unruly mob that endangers our country???

#30 Comment By maggy simony On October 8, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

I’m an old old ex-NH resident who loved the primary season–had to move to Florida to be near a daughter there. I too love Buddy Roemer–just hearing his speech on c-span in front of the National Press Club made me join up, send my $100 and I now try to help where I can via the internet, from Florida.

This article has been a great reading experience for me–to find a voice calling itself “conservatve” that appreciates Buddy Roemer. And all those great comments! The last one (by BQRealityBites) saying that the Tea Party is/was saying same things as Roemer is wrong for this reason. I was very intrigued by the Tea Party at first BUT then Dick Armey and the Club for Growth co-opted it by providing the funds for the Tea Party.

There is nothing remotely similar between Club for Growth and Roemer’s position on changing “free” trade to fair trade. Club for Growth is apotheosis of global financial/trade policies that have dessimated our economy.

Incidentally, all of you new appreciators of Roemer can help as I do. Have a Google Alert for Roemer, brings you citations about him (brought me THIS ONE!) and you can blog and influence that way.

Roemer is in the tradition of Pat Buchanan when it comes to combination of conservatism and what Pat always called a Economic Nationalism.

The trade issue is the ULTIMATE populist issue–and if Roemer gets the chance for exposure, entry into the debates, you will find (as Ross Perot did back when he ran on same issue–opposition to NAFTA which created so-called “free” trade) that supporters range from left to right. Actually, someone with Roemer’s views (imo) has a better chance of beating Obama than the rest of those running!!

I believe the Tea Party”s influence has forced Republican Candidates to run in a way that makes them un-winnable in the regular electon. Roemer could save the Republican Party from its own inner corruption and rot. Want to read a really great article on this topic? [8]

Read it and weep!

The right’s support of Fair Trade represented by Buchanan has been sort of squashed and pushed to the background. I say, by Fox News and talk show hosts who canonize corporations. Read Pat Buchanan’s books and old columns — you will see there a true conservative who castigates the role of corporations in selling out America. He does some of best writing in his book on the history of trade in America–tariffs are part of the founding fathers credo, it’s how we GOT to be an economic power.

I am more middle of the road on social issues than Roemer (and certainly more so than Buchanan). But it doesn’t BOTHER me that I don’t agree with some of Roemer’s views because his two KEY issues — on trade and on ending ownership of Congress by special interest and corporate money ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES TODAY. They trump all other issues, for me, because I truly think we are heading for extinction as a strong nation if they are NOT dealt with in this election cycle.

And for you younger people–your WHOLE FUTURE depends on what Roemer is espousing. My life is over–you need to GET ACTIVE, and get involved in any way you can for Buddy.

#31 Pingback By Rod Dreher » Buddy Roemer: Occupy Wall Streeters = Good Americans « Daw Plucker On October 18, 2011 @ 8:51 am

[…] Rod Dreher » Buddy Roemer: Occupy Wall Streeters = Good Americans.  Could Buddy Roemer, a one-term Louisiana governor and a 67-year-old Baton Rouge banker, be a real conservative populist? I caught him shortly after reading his tweet upbraiding Herman Cain’s criticism of the Occupy Wall Street protesters as “un-American.” Roemer told me that Cain had unfairly insulted “young men and women who are protesting business as usual. And business as usual has gotten us eaten alive with crony capitalism. LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); LD_AddCustomAttr("LangId", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Autotag", "politics"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Tag", "current-events"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Tag", "politics"); LD_AddSlot("wpcom_below_post"); LD_GetBids(); Share this:SharePrintFacebookRedditStumbleUponTwitterDiggEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

#32 Comment By Luis Gambrill On December 4, 2011 @ 7:04 pm

The Hellboy movies were also completely amazing. Even if you don’t care that it’s based off of a comic, it’s still an incredible story and the creature effects are out of this world. Del Toro is truly a genius and anything that he touches is platinum.

#33 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 12, 2012 @ 11:41 pm

I think Hellboy and Del Toro are great, but Roemer is right about Wall Street but mistaken about strong “defense” – which is really Wall Street’s enforcers, as Gen. Smedley Butler admitted.

#34 Comment By jaden smith On July 22, 2016 @ 2:56 pm

Louisiana has an open primary system, which means the top two vote-getters in the primary election advance to the general election. In 1991, all the blacks and yellow-dog white Democrats voted for Edwin Edwards in the primary. White racists and many working-class whites voted for David Duke in the primary. Roemer took the urban and suburban moderate Democratic and Republican vote — the “good government” vote — which put him in third. It was a horror show. I was a bigtime Roemerista back then, and felt obliged to put on my car a pro-Edwards bumper sticker saying: “Vote for the Crook. It’s Important.”

#35 Comment By Goole allo apk Download On September 22, 2016 @ 12:43 am

JonF, let’s just say that repealing Glass-Steagall was part of a trend, the idea that if government just steps back and lets the markets be creative (e.g., mortgage securitization was creative marketing) we will all be prosperous and nothing will ever go wrong again. Reagan’s first moment was unleashing the Savings and Loans to be bought up by wheeler dealers and milked — they went broke, the government bailed them out, the wheeler dealers laughed all the way to the next deal.
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