Occupy Wall Street protests have been going strong in New York City for more than a month, with the "Occupy" movement going global, stretching from U.S. cities like Boston and Chicago to Auckland, New Zealand, Rome, Italy and Tokyo.
What's their message? According to the movement's website, "Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. 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."
And attention to these protests, along with national economic issues, has grown. According to a Pew Research Center poll the week of Oct. 13-16, 2011, 22 percent of Americans say they followed news about the anti-Wall Street protests very closely, up from 17 percent who said the same a week earlier. In addition, that same poll showed that 39 percent of Americans followed news about the U.S. economy very closely, followed by 29 percent saying they very closely followed the debate in Washington over jobs and the deficit.
The same upward trend in interested was found in both Democrats and Republicans in that poll, with 21 percent of Republicans reporting they followed news about the protests very closely, up from 12 percent the previous week. Among Democrats, 27 percent said the same, compared with 17 percent the week earlier.
In addition to pure interest, the public seems to be responding positively to the movement, according to a recent Gallup poll, a response that makes sense, wrote the president of the Pew Research Center, Andrew Kohut, in a New York Times article.
He offers three lines of reasoning:
"First, fundamental views about economic inequality are long-standing. Over the past two decades we have found a very large majority of respondents agreeing with the statement that 'this is a country in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer,' he wrote, adding that the idea of a nation divided into "haves" and "have nots" has been around since the late 1980s. Second, he wrote, the public has come to see the government as providing more for the rich than any other constituency. And lastly, the "economic climate" comes into play. "Anxiety about economic conditions, and jobs in particular, puts the whole question of fairness front and center for the average American." [Read full NYT article]