Tipping point for American politics?

Could the Occupy Wall Street movement transform the 2012 presidential race?

October 10, 2011 16:43
3 minute read.
Jeremy Ruden

jeremy ruden 58. (photo credit: courtesy)

It is very rare for a big story to come along that the majority of the press doesn’t know how to handle. This is the situation now in the United States with the rise of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement which has now spread like wildfire to almost every corner of the country since their first protest on September 17.

More and more people are turning out for demonstrations against the status quo stemming from the Bush administration’s decision to bail out many Wall Street financial institutions when the American economy started its downward spiral.

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As the movement picks up steam, it seems people from across the political spectrum are joining even though this is a left-of-center movement based on the unions and other organizations which have come out to support it.

Where is the movement taking its inspiration from? According to its website, “We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.”

I believe they’re using the Arab Spring comparison primarily for PR reasons. There’s certainly nothing “revolutionary” about what was done in the Arab countries from a Western perspective, as the United States has seen its fair share of peaceful demonstrations. My best guess is that they decided to take the recent example of the Arab Spring as not only a success story but to avoid any domestic animosity with individuals or groups who might have not backed previous non-violent rallies in the US.

In any event, a high percentage of the mainstream media in the United States pretty much ignored the events at least at the beginning.

Today, with demonstrations taking place all over the country, it’s hard to turn a blind eye.

Despite the widespread implications of the story, there aren’t too many news outlets criticizing the movement – at least not directly.

After all, who would even want to condemn the self-proclaimed American version of Tahrir Square?

I BELIEVE that right-of-center pundits have been reluctant to carry out their typical “anything left wing is bad” bashing due to the lines which can be drawn between Occupy and the Tea Party.

Some articles I read even indicate that Occupy may be the Left’s version of the Tea Party. The two might not have the same goals but there are similarities which cannot be ignored. Both claim to be grassroots movements but the main parallel between the two is they are both extremely displeased with the abuses in the political system, especially within the Democratic & Republican parties.

Midstream media is also pulling its punches on Occupy and have kept to reporting the facts. The reason for this could be the realization that this could turn into something big. Unlike the Tea Party which had well-organized rallies with ready-for-consumption slogans and symbols, Occupy seems to have come out of nowhere. Seems being the operative word. I’m sure that origins of the movement will be revealed soon.

The perception that Occupy is a voice for the 99 percent of Americans who are getting the short end of the stick is, well, sticking – but for how long? How big will the movement grow? Will they translate the support they’re getting into political power?

It’s too early to tell as so many media outlets are sitting on the fence. That’s not going to last for too long either and which side they end up landing on may determine the fate of the entire movement. Social causes and demonstrations need media support to succeed in the Western world. So far, Occupy doesn’t have it.

In essence, the United States has moved to a three-party system as of the last elections. Those Tea Party candidates who were elected have broken off from the Republican base and do not play follow the leader. For better or worse, they are following their own agenda.

Assuming they’ll retain steam and if Occupy goes political by the 2012 elections, the US just might have a de facto four-party system.

We should all keep watching and reading. American politics could be on the verge of a tipping point.

The writer is an independent media consultant and a former producer at the Fox News Channel in New York.

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