“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.” –Franklin D. Roosevelt
It took awhile, but the “occupy” movement is finally getting the kind of attention the tea party received from its inception. The difference of course being the media’s complete ignorance of the development during its initial stages on Wall Street. Not to mention the criticism leveled at it by many of the talking heads on the right. The real question is why, when a movement similar to the oft praised “Tea Party Revolution” starts protesting the incredible wealth gap in this country, does the media and government try to pretend it does not exist. Fortunately, I have a couple of theories.
The Occupy Movement is targeting Corporate America. Not don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all corporations are bad. Nor do I think that’s what those participating in this growing protest believe either. Rather, I think they are crying out against a system where giant companies are able to influence the system in such way that they suffer little to no consequences for the economic mess they have created. Which, I think is the very reason the media was so hesitant to cover this advance in the first place. Going after the government for its supposed greed, like the Tea Party did, has little to no consequences for the media. In fact it makes for good news. However, when you start demanding corporations like “too big to fail” banks and financial institutions answer for their actions, you start to affect advertising and other mechanisms modern day media relies on to remain profitable and relevant. Considering many media outlets are corporations themselves, its no wonder they initially ignored the events now too big to ignore.
Acknowledging the ideas behind the protest requires admitting the inherent flaws in the current system. So what about the politicians who chose for so long to either brush off the activity on Wall Street, or actively decry its participants as lazy? Well, for one, if you admit policies have been put in place giving an advantage to a rich minority you have to be prepared to suffer the political ramifications of allowing said policies to continue. Why not just change the policies you say? Well for one, much of money funding your campaign comes from these very same corporations and individuals who would be negatively impacted by any shift in the law. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying all politicians are unwilling to make the drastic changes needed. However, electoral considerations most likely played a role in the delay of their attention to this public movement.
There is no one figurehead being targeted. The beauty of the Tea Party, from a media standpoint anyway, was the clear antagonist being rallied against…namely President Obama and his Democrat allies in Congress. Now some might say they (the Tea Party) were mad at the greed of all politicians. Their rhetoric and the 2010 midterm election results however, tell a different story. Primarily a conservative movement, the Tea Party, often decried the greedy liberals in Washington. Targeting politicians, like Senator Harry Reid, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama himself. This type of “us versus them” mentality makes for dynamic news, especially for right leaning networks like Fox News. Meanwhile, the participants of the “occupy” protests are targeting the corporations and financial institutions that lead us into this current recession, the increasing debt burden being put on a generation of college students with bleak job prospects, and the foreclosures that have put so many people on the street. When your tackling such complex subjects it is far more difficult to create a media friendly narrative of good versus evil.
Fortunately, it appears as though the “99%” have finally grown large enough that the media and politicians can no longer ignore the worthiness of this cause. While not perfect, the “occupy” protests address the core of what has so many Americans disenfranchised with the current state of this country. The idea a select few should control an overwhelming majority of the wealth and that public policies should continue to benefit this elite group. It is this sad truth, that has spurred this movement. With any luck this protest will evolve to a point where the American Dream can be restored to everyone, and not just those lucky enough to make it to the top.