November 16 2011
Public opinion of the Occupy Wall Street movement is waning, or so the latest Public Policy Polling survey found. The latest figures show opposition to the goals of OWS - whatever they are - at 45%, a 9 points climb since last month. In contrast, only 33% of respondents support OWS’ goals.
Not only is public opinion of OWS falling, but opinion of both the Tea Party and the Republicans' performance in the House are rising. Dave Weigel offers some analysis for America’s declining support of OWS:
PPP doesn't go into the reasons for the drop in Occupy support and rise in conservative support, but I think we all remember the 1960s, don't we? This is a classic reaction to scenes of Occupiers clashing with cities and police who want to clear them out. It's a reflection of a steady thrum-thrum of viral Internet articles and local news reports about the dark side of Occupation -- Kalle Lasn's crazy anti-Jewish rant from 2002, the popular Fox News stories about ACORN running the movement, reports of sexual assault, etc. Hey, this is why the chin-stroking left (which includes AdBusters!) is talking about moving beyong camps.
My gut tells me that the twenty-somethings behind the rowdier OWS encampments in New York, DC and Oakland are having trouble grasping the concept that “America” – and “the 99%” – extends beyond the borders of their cities. To them, the team they’re fighting for is represented by the people they’re camping with. Given that the average human brain is notoriously bad at conceptualizing extremely large numbers (warning for colorful audio, courtesy of Penn Jillette), if you’re an OWS demonstrator, the relatively small group of people standing next to you day-in-day-out become your mental map of what the rest of your team, America, must look like. When everyone on your team is getting pushed around by police or arrested, of course it looks like an assault on “America.” You’d probably start thinking of yourself as some kind of freedom fighter, and co-opt a dramatic name like ‘the 99%’ too.
Or maybe you wouldn’t. You might have the sense to realize that America is a huge, culturally heterogeneous country. To many other Americans, the millions of people who don’t share your politics, the types who live in rural, fly-over states and who’ve never even visited New York City or Oakland, OWS is starting to look like a bunch of entitled children who refuse to leave the playground, at best. At worst, it's looking like a movement so rag-tag and disorganized and clueless that it can’t even keep the thugs and rapists out of its ranks. Neither bodes well for having any lasting influence over American politics.