Wineke: Evaluating The ‘Occupy’ Protests

By Bill Wineke Special To Channel 3000

I’m really not sure who all those people are who claim to be occupying Wall Street, but I think they’re on to something.

The reason I think that is the right-wing is going absolutely nuts. Every commentator I listen to, from Rush Limbaugh to those are are comparatively sane, keeps assuring me that the occupiers are spoiled brats who smell bad, live on trust funds and refuse to work.

The rhetoric keeps escalating. Presidential candidate Herman Cain says the protests are ?unAmerican? and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor calls them a ?mob? who are pitting ?Americans against Americans.?

Democrats keep suggesting the occupiers are on their side, but I haven’t really seen anything to convince me that’s so. They seem unhappy with our system in general.

We in the press have absolutely no idea what to make of them. We ignored them for the first three weeks of their rally and, then, as it spread to other cities, we scrambled to interpret the movement and decided it is the flip side of the Tea Party.

Perhaps. The Tea Party movement, which is actually dozens of tea parties, pretty much got co-opted by the billionaires who financed it in order to seize political power but I have a feeling it is not going to stay co-opted. Both the Wall Street occupiers and the Tea Party protesters seem to have concluded that the system is rigged against them.

I’m not sure how they could have come to that conclusion.

Perhaps they saw the government bail out the big investment banks only to see the once-again solvent banks reward their top executives with bonuses worth tens of millions of dollars.

Or, perhaps they are men and women who lost their middle-class jobs while CEO pay in the country went up an average of 27 percent.

I’m not sure, just asking.

Perhaps they are part of a still dwindling group of Americans who pay attention to the daily news. If so, they see that the government seems to come within hours of shutting down every four or five weeks.

Or perhaps they listen to Herman Cain ? now a GOP front-runner for president, say that if a person is unemployed and not rich, it is his own fault. He should get a job, possibly delivering pizza. And, then, they look at the 80 or 100 of 150 rejection slips they have received while they tried to find jobs.

All I know for sure is that we in the press don’t get it. We are sure the protests will fail because they have no clear objective and no colorful spokesperson.

We’ve already come to that conclusion about last winter’s demonstrations in Madison. More than 100,000 people gathered downtown in below zero temperatures to protest Governor Walker’s budget cuts. Walker’s cuts were enacted so we in the press assume the demonstrations were futile.

But I’m not so sure. The demonstrators on Wall Street keep citing Wisconsin as an inspiration. And the protests keep spreading and they keep growing.

In Chicago, angry bank employers displayed signs gloating ?We are the 1 percent.?

Those signs probably aren’t a good idea.