November 8 2011
As "Occupy" Goes Off The Rails, Public Sours
I'll admit it - when the Occupy Wall Street movement first rose to prominence some weeks ago, I did not immediately dismiss it.
Having watched the left dismiss the Tea Party at their own electoral peril, I gave the Occupiers the benefit of the doubt and even initially had some charitable things to say about the few areas of ideological overlap with the Tea Party. Both movements believed that the growing entanglement between government and business only created crony capitalism and corruption. Both movements believed that in general the "rules of the game" were rigged against the little guy (though the Tea Party and OWS would differ dramatically on just who the game was being rigged by.)
While I disagreed with large chunks of what OWS was demanding, I wasn't ready to dismiss it out of hand.
Then, these stories began popping up.
Protestors turning on local street vendors, hurling urine and blood when vendors ceased to give out free food, while denying food to the homeless and using homeless shelter resources to shower and eat.
They're using kids as shields and pawns in the protests.
Vandalism and destruction of property is being carried out by movement leaders.
Chaotic mobs outside private gatherings have caused harm to a 78-year old lady.
Congratulations, Occupy Wall Street. You've become everything that skeptical conservative critics warned you'd be.
In the Washington Post, Michael Gerson hits the nail on the head, noting this is "not the Center for American Progress on a camping trip. It is a leftist movement with a militant wing."
In a sense, the Occupy Wall Street crowd has squandered some initial advantages that they held. The public even now still agrees with some of the things that some OWS protestors are calling for, such as opposition to corporate bailouts. The movement had initially decent favorables.
Now, there's been a significant jump in the unfavorables for Occupy Wall Street, jumping from 27% to 43% unfavorable, all while favorables only edged up 3 points. (Rasmussen is not the only pollster to show the OWS movement with higher unfavorables than favorables at this point.) With the awful stories pouring out of the various OWS gatherings, it's no surprise that an initially sympathetic public would cease to be so enchanted.
It seems that, without significant change in the behavior of the activists, the movement is more about grotesque antics and destruction than making a coherent political point.