Very generally, I think people are quite unhappy with the state of the economy and what's happening. They blame, with some justification, the problems in the financial sector for getting us into this mess and they're dissatisfied with the policy response here in Washington. On some level I can't blame them. Like everyone else, I'm dissatisfied with what the economy is doing right now.These protests seem different somehow from others I remember. They seem to lack an opposition. When civil rights protesters marched in the 1960's, opponents threw rocks, and the police turned fire hoses on them. When antiwar protesters marched on college campuses in the 1960's and 70's, Nixon denounced them, and the National Guard faced them down and even shot a few of them. Today, here in LA, hundreds of people are camped out in front of City Hall, following the lead of similar protests around the country. Their location suggests that they are demanding that City Hall somehow surrender to their demands. Yesterday, however, the President of the City Council came out to greet the protesters, invited them to stay as long as they like, and told them they have his support.
Then we have the chairman of the Federal Reserve, who is viewed as one of the chief villains and architects by at least some of these protesters, telling Congress yesterday that he has sympathy with the protesters, that they are right to some extent to blame Wall Street for causing at least some of our economic problems, and that they are also right to be dissatisfied with the response of policymakers in Washington. He actually sounds like he is . . . on the same side. Very strange.
If the chairman of the Federal Reserve is on the side of the protesters, and so is the President of the City Council, who is the opposition? It might not be the Tea Party. A lot of those right wing protesters seem to share the anger of the Occupy Wall Street movement at irresponsible banks, corrupt corporations, and maybe even at widening income inequality. Maybe not even political leaders. They want to tap into that anger also. It might not even be the rich who are the enemy. Many wealthy people, following the lead of people like Warren Buffett, are begging for a tax hike. It might not even be corporations. Corporations represent a range of attitudes just like real people.
How will this movement deal with the difficult challenge of finding out that most of the powers that be are sympathetic to their cause? Their enemy seems to be the whole system, and the difficult part, now that we know that most of us agree it need fixing, seems to lie in figuring out how to do that.
And here is an example of how to have a conversation with a representative of what many believe is another enemy, namely the media: