One month in, protests yet to topple capitalism
Monday marks the one month anniversary of the redistributionist, anti-corporate Occupy Wall Street movement that has spread across the country.
Since the initial descent of disgruntled young people on New York’s Zuccotti Park, none of their speculated demands have been met and the protesters have no intention of ending their demonstrations anytime soon.
According to the unofficial Occupy Wall Street Internet forum, which has maintained a go-to presence for information for the protesters and by the protesters, the movement’s victories to date have included spawning more protests and bringing their 99 percent grievance into the mainstream conversation.
“Renaming the space ‘Liberty Square,’ we kicked off a protest against bank bailouts, corporate greed and the unchecked power of Wall Street in Washington,” the forum explained of their one month anniversary. “In the last month, the message of “We are the 99%” has won the hearts and minds of over half of Americans (according to a recent Time survey) and is gaining ground globally, with 1,500 protests in 82 countries this past Saturday (October 15).”
The protests have garnered the support and approval of union leaders, liberal activists and Democratic leaders in the highest levels of government. One supporter is President Barack Obama, who, the Washington Times reported, speculated Sunday at the dedication of the memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that the civil rights leader would have supported the Occupy Wall Street protesters.
“If he were alive today, I believe he would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing all who work there,” the president said. “Those with power and privilege will often decry any call for change as divisive. They’ll say any challenge to the existing arrangements are unwise and destabilizing. Dr. King understood that peace without justice was no peace at all.”
Conservatives and Republicans have ranged from skeptical to dismissive, calling the demonstrators’ anti-capitalist message unrealistic. Others have expressed shock that mainstream liberal institutions have rallied to a movement that has pointed to the Arab Spring and Tahrir Square as a partial protest model.
“To the villainy-of-the-rich theme emanating from Washington, a child is born: Occupy Wall Street. Starbucks-sipping, Levi’s-clad, iPhone-clutching protesters denounce corporate America even as they weep for Steve Jobs, corporate titan, billionaire eight times over,” columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote Thursday. “These indignant indolents saddled with their $50,000 student loans and English degrees have decided that their lack of gainful employment is rooted in the malice of the millionaires on whose homes they are now marching … What’s the Occupy Wall Street program? Eat the rich.”
Indeed, the irony of corporate influence on these protesters, with brand named clothing and braces-perfect straight teeth — presumably the benefit of parents with money who care — has not been lost on bloggers.
Despite dismissal by some, the movement has had an impact outside of the over 1,000 protestors arrested for disorderly conduct, obstruction of public space and clashes with police. Occupy Wall Street is viewed favorably by a majority of Americans, according to a recent TIME poll.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor even backtracked from comments he made earlier this month — in which he described the demonstrators as “growing mobs” — on “Fox News Sunday” over the weekend, noting that there is frustration, but that he is still concerned about colleagues who have been quick to jump on their bandwagon.
“Where I’m most concerned, is we have elected leaders in this town who, frankly, are joining in an effort to blame others rather than focusing on the policies that have brought about the current situation,” he told host Chris Wallace.
It will remain to be seen where the protests go from here, yet all indications are they will be around for awhile. Indeed, Chuck Todd reported Monday morning on “The Daily Rundown” that since the movement began, supporters have donated more than $300,000 to the effort.