As with any other large-scale movement of its type, OWS has had its share of bad apples – as of press time, the number of protesters arrested had neared 1,000. Still, non-violent dissent appears to be the standing order.
Support and backlash have sprung from various directions, as well. Age, gender, race and religion don’t seem to be an issue amongst the protesters – there is a wide variety.
Among supporters – or non-detractors – the biggest issue with OWS appears to be a lack of clear direction. The group is reluctant to make demands because “demands are for terrorists and that is not who we are,” said Ryan Hoffman, co-author of the OWS’ Declaration of the Occupation of New York City.
OWS has no stated leaders or goals, but it’s clear that those most heavily involved have taken issue with the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans controlling nearly a quarter of the country’s wealth.
This explains the OWS rally cry, “We are the 99 percent.” By my reckoning, most everyone – if not all – reading this newspaper reside within that 99 percent.
Polls show a majority of Americans agree with OWS, despite the lack of knowledge of the groups specific wants/needs. This tells me that the movement is working – no one knows what the group wants, but in reality, everyone has enough of an idea to form an opinion.
This is in stark contrast to a similar movement that began two years ago – the Tea Party.
Tea Party’s supporters have historically been conservatives and are more likely to be white, male, over the age of 45, wealthy, more highly educated and self-professed born-again Christians than the rest of the country’s population.
OWS, while still in its relative infancy, is largely viewed as a liberal movement. This has some of its supporters worried that it will be co-opted by the Democratic party, which would apparently go against the unstated aims of the group.
For all their differences, OWS and the Tea Party have a few similarities, the main one (at its very basic core) being a problem with the way money is handled in this country. To me, the Tea Party seems more troubled by what government programs are and aren’t funded, while OWS appears more bothered by frivilous spending and the disparity of wealth.
The most important similarity – or what should be, at least – between the groups is that they are made up of Americans. And both groups are made up of a large number of Americans.
Logic and balance seem to dictate that if the Tea Party is essentially a Republican movement, whether or not the party is officially affiliated, then OWS should be viewed on the side of the Democrats, again regardless of official affiliation.
Which sets the stage for another verbal battle likely to do little more than enrage members on both sides while accomplishing little of substantial benefit to the people.
I hope you’ll excuse my pessimism, but in my view, the most ardent Tea Partiers have done nothing but make that movement seem like it’s peopled by a bunch of out-of-touch conservatives. My sincere expectation is that OWS supporters will do nothing but make that movement seem like it’s peopled by a bunch of liberal crybabies.
While the rest of us, those aching for common sense, are left out in the cold.
Justin McGill is general manager of The Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.