Politics, like sports, is a competition. And in this competition there are two basic forces that determine the outcome. How well your team can play--and how shitty the opposition plays. Some things you can try to control (like how well you play), and other things you can't (how shitty the opposition plays). But the bottom line is we need to not simply rely on explaining how the opponents actions caused certain outcomes--but how our own actions or inactions effect outcomes.
In football, if your leaders don't win--you clean house. In politics, and i'm thinking especially of Labor unions or the Dems, they stay on. Winning means delivering power to your base. Having an excuse is fine when you lose. All teams, players and coaches will have a reason for what happened "out there today", but the bottom line is when the football coach loses for one or two seasons, he's gone, and so are many of the players.
The problem with politics, at least on the left, is that it works in many ways the opposite of sports. The most winning and capable players in sports are pushed to the top. The most capable ideas in politics are pushed to the bottom or made invisible. You many be advancing a program which could expand political action by 20 million citizens, but because it's politics, your platform is automatically rendered invisible. This makes politics more like the WWF than football. The best competitors in politics are on the sidelines precisely because they are so much better at beating the asses of their competition. When you demonstrate this level of ass kicking populist attack--the union leaders run, and the Dems run. This is precisely how these institutions are set up--to avoid allowing a winning program in because winning requires risk--and these leaders are advanced on the basis of protecting the narrow group of constituents they represent--and not the maximum victory and appeal required to win or advance the program.
To the extent that we can avoid this, I think it's useful to reduce it to this level and explain part of why we lost to the opposition, and the other part should mostly focus on our internal problems--and how to remove people who are just not that good. One more sports parallel or lack therof: Sometimes it's hard to fire a loser. In sports it's quantifable, so you know when your first round QB draft pick sucks, but you WANT him to succeed. But the facts stare you in the face. In politics, delusion is much more possible. People WANT Obama to be a left wing populist, so many of them simply IMAGINE that he is trying, and IGNORE, the overwhelming evidence of his rightwing conservative, business loving, Israel and Egypt Arming, Predator drone assaulting, drug war supporting, immigrant deporting track record.
That's probably the best example, but it's foolish for us to try and control executive power. The left needs to take over labor--fire all who back the old regime, sacrifice some of the old labor jobs (in the same way THEY have sacrificed me, and the vast majority of us) or at least risk their contracts in favor of militant expansion and takeovers within labor.
Occupy activists can regroup, and rethink the no demands platform, and we will be more likely to build up support with a coherent program and a bit of the dirty L word. But above all else, winning isn't everything, but nothing else matters unless you win.