Why Occupy Wall Street and Democratic pols aren't exactly pals
A month into the Occupy Wall Street protests, the Democratic Party's embrace of the movement can best be described as friendly, but loose. Both sides, it turns out, are wary of a close alliance.
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Political analyst Doug Muzzio of Baruch College says the Occupy Wall Street protesters remind him of the early protesters of the Vietnam War. “In 1965 those people who were demonstrating were seen as outliers,” he says. “But, as their movement grew it had a profound effect.”Skip to next paragraph
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The organizers themselves like to compare themselves to the Arab spring uprisings, especially in Egypt where protesters spent weeks camped out in Tahrir Square and eventually brought down the Egyptian government. In the United States they are trying to effect change, they say, through “people power,” such as the encampment or various protest marches.
Many members of Congress from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party have had no problem piling on Wall Street. The Congressional Progressive Caucus said it shared the frustration of the protesters over the toll it says an “unchecked Wall Street has taken on the overwhelming majority of Americans.”
One of the strongest anti-Wall Street statements has come from House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who said on Oct. 6, “The message of the American people is that no longer will the recklessness of some on Wall Street cause massive joblessness on Main Street.”
However, other Democrats, especially those from New York, have been particularly careful about their comments, since Wall Street investment bankers contribute significantly to reelections campaigns. For example, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) of New York, who has received money from Wall Street interests, has issued 30 press releases so far in October, but not one of them talked about Occupy Wall Street.
While there is certainly discontent with with Wall Street, there is even more with Washington. On Monday, the Hill, a Washington publication, released a poll of who is to blame for the nation’s economic woes. It found that 56 percent of likely voters blamed Washington compared with 35 percent who blamed Wall Street.
“Unless politicians can ultimately shift that opinion, ultimately Washington takes the bulk of the hit,” says Ron Faucheux, head of the Clarus Research Group, a nonpartisan opinion polling firm in Washington.
“It does not mean there is not a Wall Street issue there to exploit, but instinctively people think Washington is more responsible.”