It's been about three weeks since the Occupy Wall Street protests began, and truth be told, I'm still not exactly sure what they are all about. Increased taxes on the top 1% of wage earners? Dismantling of the entire capitalist system? Stimulating the poster-board and Sharpie industries with increased demand? Somewhere in between?
This weekend, the papers are filled with coverage of smaller Occupy Your City protests. About 900 protesters marched in an Occupy Chicago event of two smaller rallies that somehow hooked up when they realized that there were multiple groups of angry liberals downtown. Might I suggest that organization is key to a successful rally, and in order to parallel the New York protests, you have my blessing to call it Occupy LaSalle Street. The Indianapolis Star reports that 1,000 protesters showed up for Occupy Indianapolis, another reason that the Occupy Chicago people should feel ashamed, drawing fewer people than Indianapolis. Between 500 to 1000 protesters appeared for Occupy Minneapolis, which was strange as the mayor was encouraging the protest. More protests are in store for Detroit, Milwaukee, and Madison, whose protests at the state capitol in January appears to have been the first in what is looking like a trend of liberal protests throughout the country.
Why now? And why does this remind me of the Tea Party Protests? Both seem to have been focusing unspoken anger into popular movements without a clear plan or list of demands. Where the Tea Party blames government, the Occupy movement blames corporations. Neither one seems to appreciate pragmatic and practical solutions, but the Occupy movement is too new. The Tea Party seems to be why the Republican Party has a carnival of weirdos running (plus Jon Huntsman), none of whom stand a reasonable chance to win in the general election (except Jon Huntsman).
Why the delay on the liberal front? If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that a number of the protesters in Occupy Wall Street were Obama supporters. He had the support of the liberal progressive wing of the party. It wasn't until after he assumed office that he shed the progressive agenda for something that looked akin to a Republican platform from the middle of the Reagan administration. It's my opinion that the angry liberals took longer to come out and protest because there remained some hope that Obama would still be the person they elected. As this looked less and less likely, and Tea Party elected officials began dismantling progressive programs in states like Wisconsin, liberals just had enough, and are done with waiting for the Administration to come around.
I am one of the disillusioned. When I first heard about Barack Obama, it was during an Anti-Iraq War rally in downtown Chicago. He was a speaker. It was during a similar time in which the progressive wing of the party believed that their voices and wishes were not being heard. So... he really should have seen this coming. It's probably too late for the Occupy movement to back a candidate for the Democratic Primary, but it does not bode well for the President to go into election season with a fractured and disenchanted base.