Occupy Wall Street: A Fizzle?

By Douglas Stanglin:

CAPTIONBy Mario Tama, Getty Images
A new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows that the “Occupy” movement has failed to capture the attention of a majority of Americans, indicating either ambivalence toward it or lack of interest.

The poll finds that 56% of Americans surveyed are neither supporters nor opponents and 59% say they don’t know enough to have an opinion about the movement’s goals.

The survey, however, does show an increase from 20% to 31% in disapproval of the way the protests are being conducted.

Results are based on phone interviews Saturday and Sunday on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 996 adults, ages 18 or over, living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, chosen using random-digit dial sampling.

The margin of error is ±4 percentage points.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • phil_style

    I’m definitely not in the camp that disagrees with the occupy movement, however I do think the 99% claim was more marketing slogan than it was a reflection of the sentiment/thoughts of 99% of the population.

  • RobS

    I don’t think they can stay in a park forever… at some point, the need to pick a short-list of goals and see what kind of support can be rallied will be interesting. Firm decisions like that will alienate some, but attract others.

    Ideas to consider for mainstream America backing might include: 1) responsible financial management that allows for someone to have margin in their life to give to others; 2) discouraging the use of debt that causes problems at both individual and governmental levels; and 3) partnering with business (scary, huh?) to encourage public businesses to align CEO/executive pay in a responsible way.

    By getting out of the park and losing some of the more rebelious elements, they could capture some positive news attention and shape public thought & public policy.

    Imagine if someone got on a newsfeed doing an interview, wearing a suit and saying, “That’s right, our group seeks to encourage responsible business CEO pay and incentives to help make sure business and shareholder interests are aligned, and prevent runaway greed and irresponsibility. This is better for shareholders and fosters responsible and more ethical use of funds, also allowing the company to pay their rank-&-file employees better to raise their quality of life.”

    OWS might find a spot on Fox Business if they can sell ideas like that… wouldn’t that be funny…?

  • http://awaitingawhiterobe.wordpress.com MikeB

    “The survey, however, does show an increase from 20% to 31% in disapproval of the way the protests are being conducted.”

    and 69% approve of the way the protests are conducted. Do they read?

    RobS would be funny since if OWS adopted these ideas (especially #1 and #2) and they actually behaved while protesting they would be … well they would be the Tea Party.

  • TSG

    I read the ethos behind the “occupy” movement in an interview of Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly in Dissent Magazine on November 21 2008. You can read where this philosophy is headed in an article by Alperovitz in the Dissent, Fall 2011 edition.

  • Larry Barber

    Way, way too early to declare OWS to be a “fizzle”. It is not a traditional protest movement with a short list of specific demands. Rather, it is a call to re-examine some of our foundational beliefs about what makes a good society. After 30+ years of neoliberal, “free” market brainwashing it is not surprising that growth is slow, and there will always be reactionaries whose opposition solidifies over time.

    At the very least OWS deserves another year before being declared dead, which is still a very short period of time considering the amount of momentum it has to overcome.

  • Phillip

    I do not know if it is fizzling or not, but I think perhaps it aims too high. A protest for the 99 per cent reminds me of my students who, when we discuss texts like Amos 6, see the imdulgent and negligent wealthy as everyone who has more than they do. How about dropping it to the percentage in the US who truly struggle to make ends meet, or the percentage of those in the world without decent food, water, or shelter?

  • http://www.eric-michael.com EricMichaelSay

    Of my friends and family, the vast majority are opposed to OWS, and offended at any Tea Party comparison.

    I do have a couple of friends, under the age of 30, who are interested in the revolutionary elements of it. Unfortunately, the 5-10 percent of protesters who become violent, or get massively reported by the media (which my friends and family claim not to trust but absolutely soak up anything negative that’s said about OWS) are turning the vast majority of my acquaintances away from them.

    They’re even happy with the way the police have conducted themselves!

  • http://www.TilledSoil.org Steve Wilkinson

    @ phil_style #1 -
    I’m with you there. I think their ‘slogan’ was one of their big problems.

    @ Larry Barber #5 -
    Agreed. Even if this more radical protest movement fizzles (which might actually be a good thing), I think some of the real issues they raised need to be addressed, and will continue to be pushed. I just hope it can be done in a more constructive and winsome manner.

    IMO, what killed the visible movement was that it lost focus, as many of the people involved wanted to be out protesting, but didn’t really know what they were protesting about. Then a bunch of odd groups joined in and completely polarized the movement to it’s detriment. For example, they were complaining about jobs, yet they had the large labor unions present. Talk about an oxymoron situation!

    If they want to be more effective, they need to all become more focused on their core objectives (which I think were sound) and take an economic course so they can correct BOTH the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ on the problematic economic assumptions. They also need to appeal to BOTH the left and right politically to have any hope of taking the government back from the special interests.

  • Randy Gabrielse

    Given what I saw in the recent pepper spray incident at UC Davis and the Chancellor’s walk afterward, I would not count these folks out as a “fizzle.” In both videos I saw determined discipline, far beyond what I expected. In other reports and videos I also see real efforts to get the police et. al. on their side as part of the 99%. They may call themselves leaderless, but someone is teaching them and they learn more with each incident.

    I will be interested in the next 24 hours. Will they seek to disrupt any of the Black Friday shopping? Doing so could alienate regular folk, but getting in the way at that level could also have an effect by addressing both consumer madness and business’ bottom lines.

    I think of Gene Sharp and the Einstein Institution when I see them.
    Peace,
    Randy Gabrielse

  • JohnM

    phil_style #1 – Said it right off the top here – “.the 99% claim was more marketing slogan..”, and that’s one reason I’m not on board. Now. Who is doing the marketing? What are they marketing? Not knowing the answers to those questions is another reason I’m not in the cheering section. Misbehavior is the third reason, and reason enough. OWS will morph into something better (I’m not optimistic at this point), or morph into something much worse (I fear) or will become yesterday’s oversensationalized news.

  • Jeff

    I am amused at the attempt to marginalize the miscreants at OWS, particularly when comparisons are made to the Tea Party. Seems to me OWS should ask themselves what it is about their movement that attracts individuals who would rape, vandalize, and deface public property. I have never seen that type of behavior at a Tea Party gathering. On the contrary, the Tea Party leaves places and people better off than they found them.

    Perhaps the abhorrent behavior, which should be condemned by the upstanding and idealistic majority of OWS, would not exist if it didn’t find an environment in which it was freely allowed to germinate.

    Show me your friends and I will show you your future.

  • Richard

    @ 11

    It was documented that the NYPD were referring homeless and troublemakers to the the OWS camp at Zuccoti Park. There have also been very clearly documented incidents of police abuse at these protests, where’s the outrage over that? There’s also been documented incidents of conservative bloggers present at the DC Movement that tried to incite a riot and then mocked the protesters for being spineless when they didn’t follow him in rushing a police line.

    Instead we have media pundits joking about how pepper spray is basically “a food product” (thanks Megyn Kelly) after students sitting peacefully in a row were sprayed by a police office.


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