Occupy Wall Street: The scum of the intellectual left
Democrats may want to heed the words of pollster Douglas Schoen, who recently went inside Occupy Wall Street and found that the protesters do not represent mainstream America; instead many are the scum of the intellectual left (to borrow a phrase from Ayn Rand):
Last week, senior White House adviser David Plouffe said that “the protests you’re seeing are the same conversations people are having in living rooms and kitchens all across America… . People are frustrated by an economy that does not reward hard work and responsibility, where Wall Street and Main Street don’t seem to play by the same set of rules.” Nancy Pelosi and others have echoed the message.
Yet the Occupy Wall Street movement reflects values that are dangerously out of touch with the broad mass of the American people—and particularly with swing voters who are largely independent and have been trending away from the president since the debate over health-care reform.
The protesters have a distinct ideology and are bound by a deep commitment to radical left-wing policies. On Oct. 10 and 11, Arielle Alter Confino, a senior researcher at my polling firm, interviewed nearly 200 protesters in New York’s Zuccotti Park. Our findings probably represent the first systematic random sample of Occupy Wall Street opinion.
Our research shows clearly that the movement doesn’t represent unemployed America and is not ideologically diverse. Rather, it comprises an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence. Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, virtually all (98%) say they would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and nearly one-third (31%) would support violence to advance their agenda.
What binds a large majority of the protesters together—regardless of age, socioeconomic status or education—is a deep commitment to left-wing policies: opposition to free-market capitalism and support for radical redistribution of wealth, intense regulation of the private sector, and protectionist policies to keep American jobs from going overseas.
Sixty-five percent say that government has a moral responsibility to guarantee all citizens access to affordable health care, a college education, and a secure retirement—no matter the cost. By a large margin (77%-22%), they support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but 58% oppose raising taxes for everybody, with only 36% in favor. And by a close margin, protesters are divided on whether the bank bailouts were necessary (49%) or unnecessary (51%).
Thus Occupy Wall Street is a group of engaged progressives who are disillusioned with the capitalist system and have a distinct activist orientation. Among the general public, by contrast, 41% of Americans self-identify as conservative, 36% as moderate, and only 21% as liberal. That’s why the Obama-Pelosi embrace of the movement could prove catastrophic for their party.
Schoen compares Democrats embracing Occupy Wall Street to politicians that got behind the anti-war movement in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Candidates that did so suffered at the ballot box. And this is where Democrats have a problem today. Also, Schoen found that 49% of the protesters backed the Wall Street bailout.
Most Americans still don’t know much about Occupy Wall Street, but Joe Sixpack probably isn’t going to smile on hipsters that have been endorsed by collectivist groups, including the American Nazi Party and Socialist Party USA, and actively supported by the Communist Party USA, which has also endorsed Obama’s re-election bid.
You’re not going to find me arguing that the bailouts were a bad deal for taxpayers, whether we’re talking about Wall Street or automakers. That’s not capitalism, it’s corporatism. The problem is that the Wall Street bailout took place nearly three years ago. Where the hell were you then?
And if these protests had a singular focus, such as ending taxpayer-funded bailouts or going after the Federal Reserve, you may find me down there along side them. But in my very brief experience in Atlanta observing protesters, they’re pushing almost every big leftist cause from the last 10 years; essentially government-backed theft. But don’t steal their property, because that’s wrong.