Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What the Occupy Protests Can Do Next

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What the Occupy Protests Can Do Next

Article excerpt

The "Occupy Wall Street" protests are a month old, but they still haven't set out specific demands. And for good reason -- most Americans blame Washington for the economic woes.

The "Occupy Wall Street" protest is a month old today, perhaps too early to judge its impact. Yet over the weekend, it spread to dozens of cities. And President Obama will campaign this week by taking on the "99 percent" slogan of this still-undefined street gathering of mostly young people.

The protesters who have encamped at Manhattan's Zuccotti Park and in other American cities have yet to make specific demands for change. Mostly they vent frustrations and assign blame, often for their personal financial woes or joblessness. Eventually, any goals must be worked out at a "general assembly" requiring a supermajority vote.

This tight organization and adherence to rules is admirable, even if the protest itself breaks the law in acts of civil disobedience, such as occupying private land. And their numbers are still well under 1 percent of the population although they claim to speak for the 99 percent who are not super-rich.

Their obvious target is Wall Street, or at least that part of the financial industry with high salaries and that strongly influences politicians. The protesters seem to distrust both Democrats and Republicans because both parties have been recipients of Wall Street's generous campaign donations.

In 2008, for example, Goldman Sachs gave more money to Mr. Obama than did any other business. In the current presidential campaign, Republican contender Mitt Romney is receiving the most cash from Wall Street.

Eventually, the future of the protests will probably rest on the question of Wall Street's role in the recession and the rising income inequality in America. If a poll conducted Oct. 13 is any indication, the protesters have their work cut out for them. …

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