Middle class and poor people showed up this past Saturday at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami. They took part in an Occupy Miami meetup. Many of the people that came were first-time political activists. Event organizer Muhammad Malik discussed the concerns of these people with the Florida Independent.
“All these different people who talked might have emphasized different issues,” Malik says, “but the key issue was: Do we live in a democracy or plutocracy? Do we live in a country where we truly have a say in the economic decisions that lead to our well-being? Or do we have no role whatsoever? I think there is a particular sense of urgency with young people, many living with their parents. Many are unemployed and don’t know what they are going to do.”
There have been questions asked about what the leaderless Occupy Wall Street movement hopes to achieve. Politicians pay attention to people who fund their campaigns. Economically disadvantaged people do not have the financial power to make establishment Democrats listen to their concerns. Let alone the Republican Party. The Koch brothers can summon governors Rick Scott and Rick Perry to their Vail, Colorado retreat. The Obama administration (until a dip in poll numbers) have dismissed the complaints of progressive activists. Republicans listen to the tea party because they fear their base. Democrats ignore progressives because they secretly despise their base. Republicans would not make the kind of concessions on taxes, abortion, and gun control that Obama did because they would never make it through the next election primary.
The Occupy Wall Street movement may not have the financial power to flood Capital Hill with lobbyists. What they can do is vote. I'm sure the Occupy activists are just as disappointed with President Obama as the Republicans. I have been critical of Obama on this blog. That doesn't mean that President Ron Paul or Rick Santorum wouldn't be far worse. There is a stark difference between Obama's neoliberalism and Republicans that want to cut taxes on the rich and raise taxes on the poor.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has to be for something. This is important. Sen. Lindsey Graham was one of the first to point out the problem with the tea party.
"The problem with the Tea Party, I think it’s just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country. It will die out."
Polls have shown that the tea party is becoming increasingly unpopular. A CNN poll found that only 28 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of the tea party. Occupy Wall Street isn't nearly as toxic as the tea party. Their concerns about the economy and the democratic process are the same as many Americans. The problem is that the media will ignore Occupy if they don't have any policy accomplishments. The protests are noble but the media will eventually dismiss it as old news.