I am continuing my previous post's theme on the Occupy (insert city/street name) movement, this time focusing on it's merits, actions, and possible support among the American people as a whole.
Firstly, I want to talk about the merits of this movement to date. For those who don't know, the group that first organized the Occupy Wall Street protest stated the main goal of the protest was to stop the influence of major corporations in the federal government (in the form of legal lobbying and outright corruption), and in turn making the federal government less representative of the American people. Now in itself, that is a good and noble goal in my mind. The problem I have is two-fold: 1) You will never stop major corporations from influencing politics, only limit their influence to some degree, and 2) Since their start they seem to have lost control over the message.
My first problem is to me a realistic one. I don't believe I or anyone else will ever see the day when corporations don't have major influence in the federal government simply because they have always had an influence and I see no reason for that ever change. To be truth, to some degree they deserve to have some influence, just as all Americans do. The sticking issue is HOW much influence should they have? I don't think there is much doubt in most Americans' minds that major corporations and "wall street" have too much influence in our government today and in turn are part of the problem in our federal government. So in that sense, this movement had a good start in terms of what kind of goal they are looking for, I think they are just a bit too naive about how much success they could possibly achieve.
The second problem I think is the most critical to the movement. While they had a good starting goal, since then it has been muddled a bit by a mass of other left-of-the political spectrum causes. This ranges from environmental activists, labor union members, and those decrying the "rich" of America or the "1%" as many of the protesters for effectively screwing over the "99%" of Americans. They have also been joined by a plethora of political commentators including Keith Olbermann and Michael Moore. And while many of these may be just causes, having so many with no clear consensus or order to it will only fuel the argument that this movement has no real direction.
Another area of interest I have for this movement is how much support they could potentially get from the American voter.
At first, I admit I figured this movement would likely only get support from liberals in America and since they only constitute 21% of Americans compared to the 41% of Americans whom the Tea Party movement gains much of its support from, that this movement has little chance of gaining as much support as the Tea Party let alone surpassing it.(August 2011, Gallup)
However as first impressions goes, this one may be a little premature. Gallup's poll is a handy indicator but it's a limited one too because it is only asking those surveyed a pretty general ideological question. However thanks to the good people at the Pew Research Center, we have a better look at where this movement could gain some support from.
In a rather in depth ideological survey conducted earlier this year, they asked registered voters surveyed which of the following groups they most closely identified with:
1. Staunchly Conservative- 11%
2. Main Street Republicans- 14%
3. Libertarians- 10%
4. Disaffected- 11%
5. Post-Moderns- 14%
6. New Coalition Democrats- 9%
7. Hard-Pressed Democrats- 15%
8. Solid-Liberals- 16%
Now, I know what you're thinking. This poll seems to contradict the one published by Gallup a few months ago but take a closer look. While it would seem that Liberals have a larger base of support in America, one has to remember that Liberal doesn't always equal Democrat, nor does Conservative always equal Republican. There is always a bit of overlap.
And when trying to figure out if this Occupy movement has the potential to gain strong support from the American people, the Pew Research Center did us something of a favor by asking a question that goes right to the origin goal set by this movement. When given the statement of "Business/Corporations make a fair profit", only 39% of all respondents agreed with that statement. Furthermore, the survey also found that 47% of respondents believe "Wall Street" hurts the economy more than it help while only 38% believed it helped the economy more. (PewResearch, 2011)
So, after all it would seem my first impressions about how much support this movement could gain from the average American were a bit off. A significant number of Americans, spanning the political spectrum, have a good deal of distrust of major corporations and "Wall Street". But here's the snag..If the Occupy movement continues to loss their direction and not focus on their original goal of curtailing Wall Street/Corporations influence on American politics, they won't get the chance to tap into that potential support and will instead be written off as just another disorganized "liberal" movement. Only IF they can hone their message and better organize do I believe they can gain the kind of support to change the political game as the Tea Party has.
Finally, I encourage my readers to do their own research on this Occupy movement: it's backers, supporters, origins, demands, and it's actions to date. One thing this movement has going for it is it has created a lot of noise on the news networks and as such there is bound to be misinformation out there about them (both from its supporters and detracters). Doing your own research is vital to forming real opinion about any political movement, something I learned putting together this piece.
The views and opinions expressed in this work are solely those of the author's and not that of the Modern Whig Party or any other political organization.