Occupy Might Be Loud, But it’s Not Sound

Occupy Might Be Loud, But it’s Not Sound


From the unions to the DNC, hopes abound that Occupy Wall Street will re-invigorate the left in time for battle against the Tea Party in 2012. Without more development, however, there won’t be much to fight with.

The folks at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will continue cheerleading for the people on the street – Wall Street, that is. As protestors continue making noise and spread their growing movement around the globe, the re-election committee for President Obama will probably leverage the images of Occupy Wall Street as much as possible without tying their self-proclaimed underdog candidate too closely to this loosely-tied group.

Unfortunately, counting on this movement will likely prove too little, too late to make any anti-Tea Party difference, despite the political left’s hopes that Occupy will combat the TP en force in 2012.

The Occupy Wall Street Movement has, to date, shown a lack of experience, no political momentum, and a scattered focus that makes the Tea Party look good.

Granted, polls indicate that mainstream America finds the Occupy Wall Street Movement more popular than the cause that made colonial clothing somewhat fashionable. Yet, this should not be misconstrued as a hint that progressives suddenly found their groove in time for the much-anticipated passion that will reign over this upcoming general election.  Likeability does not necessarily equal capability.

For those that point to the recent TIME Magazine poll showing Occupy’s 2-to-1 approval rating advantage over their conservative counterparts, there is a willingness to overlook the downside.  Occupy also has a significant lead in number of arrests and incidents of civil disobedience with far-left leanings towards socialism, distractions that denote some of the flaws this new uprising has triggered to date.

True, stories of spitting on congressmen and inappropriate political satire do highlight the tragic side of Tea Party protests gone wild. However, the Tea Party knew that it could not win the bigger argument unless it denounced this behavior and checked the bigger scoreboard – rather than just being sound boards. This realization has yet to happen on Wall Street as its organizers are too busy incorrectly counting moral victories as wins.

Totaling more national arrests than the Tea Party Movement is a problematic win for the folks on Wall Street. Counting victory as defying basic hygiene and refusing a park cleanup pales in comparison when remembering that Tea Party leaders began counting electoral victories in 2009 with blue states like Virginia and New Jersey before shocking the nation – and upsetting the supermajority apple cart – with a win in liberal Massachusetts before their movement was officially a year old.

Simply put, Occupy Wall Street is not on path to measure up, much to the chagrin of the political left – which is why they are increasingly getting involved.

Democrats continue commending these folks for their youth, hope, and exuberance for change in much the same way that President Obama was ballyhooed for his 2008 highlights.  But, there are dangerous signs that these short-lived traits will not carry the political day. The lack of a focused plan, coupled with the perception that there is no solid leadership mirror much of the ultra-fluidity and lack of centralized, viable strength that the Obama White House first showed when handing off the reins of power (and his stash of political capital) to Pelosi and Reid in 2009.

The movement risks a similar incomplete and unsatisfactory yield, as well. The willingness of the movement to be hijacked by union leaders and the DNC threaten to compromise the moral fiber of the movement.  This is similar to President Obama’s willingness to compromise on Bush tax cuts effectively cutting down his cache with base supporters.

The polls may indicate affability for the movement, but this path does not forecast viability.

The overall lesson may stem from one final difference between the Occupy Wall Streeters and the Tea Partiers: life experience.

The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street participants generally differ in age as well. The primary criticism of the Tea Partiers – being a group led by older and retired Americans – is one of the key reasons why its movement has been well-defined, well-energized, and well-respected as a political force since 2009 – traits that no one has yet attributed to the current movement centered in New York City. Until the Occupy Wall Street folks can muster the savvy to package a plan and project sustainability that outlives trendy or telegenic expressions, the political left will find itself hanging more of its hopes on the same sort of voters and activists that came out in force in 2008.  That result won’t do for progressives this time around when the White House is up for grabs.


Lenny McAllister is a political commentator found Saturdays with host TJ Holmes and fellow pundit Maria Cardona on “CNN Saturday Morning” at 10:30 AM Eastern (9:30 Central / 7:30 AM Pacific.)

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Lenny McAllister
Lenny McAllister is the host of the radio show “Get Right with Lenny McAllister” found on LMGILIVE.com and often re-broadcast on Politic365. He appears weekly on “CNN Saturday Morning” with host Randi Kaye and former DNC Communications Director Maria Cardona at 10:30 AM Eastern Time. He also regularly appears weekdays on CNN's "Early Start" at 5am - 7am and "CNN Newsroom" at 12:30pm Eastern. He also appears as a political commentator on multiple outlets including Sirius-XM Radio, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, ABC Radio in Australia, and Chicago Public Radio. Lenny has written previously for a number of publications including Rushmore Drive, Global Grind, and The Chicago Defender. In 2009, McAllister was a panelist at the 10th Annual State of the Black Union and the CNN panel discussion Young & Black In America: Empowering the Next Generation of African American Leaders. In 2010, Lenny was featured in the Studio 360 series “American Icons” in the episode, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. He was also featured in the November 2010 Essence Magazine roundtable discussion “Race (Still) Matters” that featured the Rev. Al Sharpton, NAACP President Ben Jealous, and CNN’s Soledad O’Brien.


  1. The problem with occupy Wall Street is that they are going after the wrong people. They should really go after the political parties who are only looking out for their own interests and not the people of the united states.

  2. The fact that there are no demands at the moment make for locally based solutions, and allow ideas to percolate up by consensus. People are unhappy with the fundamental organization of society, and these protests, which are replicated globally, are the result. This blog is a tad misinformed in that it misconstrues it as a leftist uprising, in fact it is a global movement that cuts across all sectors.

    There is diversity in people participating, so there will be a diversity of goals obviously.

  3. Perhaps Mr. McAllister would do well to step out of the insular, corporate-captured enclaves in which Messers Ford, Fenty, et al reside and come back down to the street on occasion. Yes, OWS is far from perfect, and yes, it does lack direction, but is denigrating folks for the lack of a shower after being camped out for several days the best you got? Really?

  4. The fact is that most people use the Civil Rights and Viet Nam era protests as the template for movements. Therefore, they do not recognize what is happening today. They watched two episodes of "Eye on The Prize" and became experts on what a successful movement looks like.

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