[X-Post with minor non-consequential edits from Politics and Pucks]
In the past few weeks this Occupy Wall Street movement has really picked up some steam. It’s a pretty amazing statement for people to be living on Wall Street and taking such drastic measures to make a strong point. It’s an incredible sight to see people my age marching and occupying the streets of major cities. I think it sends a strong point to older generations that my generation cares about politics.
Now, you must want to know why am I sitting on the sidelines? I’ve got a few very good reasons:
1) Lack of a Coherent, Repeatable Message
Okay before you accuse me of saying that I don’t know what I’m talking about, let me explain. The problem that a lot of people covering the protests are having is what the intent of the protests are. In my uneducated opinion, it is about the point that Wall Street plays a very large role in our politics, and that most of the time they are favored over anyone else. Essentially that the Wall Street investors, CEOs, etc. are much better off than 99% of the country. I understand this point, but I feel like there’s also a missing set of talking points. “I am the 99%” is a great tag-line, but there seems to be no coherent, consistent, and repeatable message outside of that. It’s almost as if there is too many interests trying to be heard all at once. This is the biggest reason the press is not able to understand the purpose of the movement.
2) They’re going to get co-opted by someone with money
The same thing happened with the Tea Party movement. If the idea gets popular enough someone with money and wants major influence in government, will want to profit off of these ideas. Dick Armey, the Koch brothers, and others essentially did this with the Tea Party. Non-profit institutions brought the Tea Party on-board and essentially co-opted them for their similar interests. The same thing is bound to happen with this movement in some capacity. Even if some cannot be bought off, someone will take the money and run (especially in this economy).
3) Okay, What do You Exactly Want to Happen?
Whose attention are you vying for? Democrats? Republicans? Millionaires? Whoever it is, they don’t seem to be taking a policy stand for change. Democrats are carefully cheering, and Republicans are somewhat concerned. They all see the imagery, but that’s about all they’re seeing. A lot of political people don’t even know what the movement’s intent is (see point 1). Now let’s say this movement grabs someone’s political attention, what do you want them to do? If you want the law to be enforced and better policy, you might be able to accomplish some of that. However, if you’re asking Wall Street to get out of politics, that’s probably not going to exactly happen for a variety of reasons. Campaign donors, and the fact Wall Street can lobby is enough to keep politicians at bay.
4) Skepticism of the direction
Don’t get me wrong, I agree with some of the points being made at these protests regarding inequality. However, I am more skeptical of where this is going to go. If the left-leaning individuals in this country want to have their own Tea Party, that’s okay. I don’t think this is exactly going to have staying power, however. I think the interests of this movement are way too diverse to really go anywhere substantial. The Wisconsin protesters had talking points that were universal, and clear motives. This movement does not exactly have that. This is a problem that most left-leaning movements like Occupy Wall Street face. Most populist movements in this country are very conservative in nature, because their interests are usually fairly narrow and involve a lot of similar goals. The left in this country has too many different goals and interests that not everyone can agree on maybe 3 or 4 points that could help narrow the focus.
So in closing, what I see is a generally good idea with good intentions and a narrow set of goals, is becoming too broad. This is coming as a result of more people getting involved with different goals in mind. I am not saying that I oppose the occupation, but I’m merely pointing out that I am skeptical of the movement being able to achieve its goals, if it has any beyond dampening Wall Street influence.