Occupy Wall Street: Taking a Stand in a Soundbite Culture

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Protester in Zuccotti Park (Joe Tacopino/flickr)

"It’s the economy, stupid." "No new taxes." "Four more years." "Change we can believe in." In modern politics, a campaign is dead in the water if it does not have a clear, concise message that can be expressed with the economy of a soundbite. One constant criticism of the movement loosely started by the Occupy Wall Street protests in Manhattan is that they lack such a coherent message. But is that a bad thing? 

J. A. (Jesse) Myerson, independent journalist and media coordinator for Occupy Wall Street, responds to the criticism of OWS's messaging. Ron Christie, former special assistant to President George W. Bush and fellow at Harvard University's Institute of Politics, opposes the movement, but offers the protesters his advice as a political strategist.


J.A. Myerson

Comments [15]


Yes, there are Socialists involved, but are they running the show? I think not. If they were, we'd be seeing a small fraction of the people who turned out in the streets over the weekend.

People on the streets have come from all sorts of backgrounds and philosophies, and there are bound to be extremists in the mix, which predictably OWS detractors exploit to scare Independent voters. We'll see how successful that attempt will be next November.

The anger directed toward the excesses of Wall Street (through steadily-creeping de-regulation actions taken by the Federal Government since Ronald Reagan) have roots in our own history; a history that too few Americans are taught, recognize, and/or understand. Key portions of this history date back to pre-Soviet Russia and the beginnings of the Socialist movement abroad.

In the 1890’s American Populism was strong, with complex debates over the economy, big business, and banking. In recent times, the only public figure to address this era has been Newt Gingerich, who longs for an 1890’s-style DE-REGULATED society (even though -- Newt's detractors say -- Federal inaction at the time helped to plunge the country into a depression in 1893). If the Left Wing is guilty of anything, it’s in their reluctance to shine a light on this crucial part of our history; crucial for the lessons that can apply today.

IN ALL FAIRNESS: If you are saying that George Soros, and the other new "usual suspects" represent and manipulate most free-thinking Americans now aligned with OWS, then prepare yourself for this observation: Tea Partiers are robots, who get their marching orders from Rush.

Oct. 17 2011 12:17 AM


I agree; it is wholly unnecessary and counter-productive to go off the deep end with epithets like "Socialist." Although, that is how Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of OWS's first and most ardent Twitter-supporters describes himself. You might want to talk to Sanders.

We don't need to make up names. Real names like MoveOn.org, the SEIU, Michael Moore and George Soros were quite enough, thank you.

Oct. 14 2011 04:04 PM

Some advice to my Republican friends: don’t call the Occupy Wall Street protesters something they are not. It will come back to bite you as the campaign season heats up. The rhetoric is bound to fly, but you must be careful in how you respond. When words like "Socialist", and names like Lenin are thrown about by you, it only reaffirms that you are panic-stricken.

Some advice to the protesters: to deflect the shallow “Socialist” tag, compare your efforts to the legacy created by William Jennings Bryan, or Abolitionist Republicans. Your critics will have a much harder time putting down an American-born grass roots effort which carries a solid historic foundation. If they call you out for holding on to ideals from the 1890’s, you can remind your critics that in recent speeches Newt Gingerich has pined for 1890’s de-regulation, while some in the Republican Party are in 1890's mode with the way they are trying to tighten voter registration laws.

Protesters: you have history on your side, if only you will use it. If your opponents revert to using "Socialist" or other European-based labels to characterize you, they lose.

Pete Simon

Oct. 11 2011 10:53 PM
sarah canido

I actually feel pride hearing about the demonstrations.... I sit inside a cubicle working full time along with my husband who is perfecting his english on the side. we have 2 small kids, we do all the right things but it seems like the dream is gone. this could be the revitilization needed if not for the country but for tired souls like ourslves. I gain a little bit of motivation just feeling like a can relate to some kind of politics... keep the coverage going!

Oct. 11 2011 06:05 PM

"They are all about benefiting themselves...not workers, not community, not country"
How asinine.
They are not benefiting the workers they employ, not the community who likes and purchases their products and not the country they pay taxes to and bring revenue from all over the world?
Someone needs a lesson in economics 101 and to review what crackpot Marxism did to economies and the civil society in the last century.

Oct. 11 2011 12:51 PM
Cid from Cape Cod

Ron Christy's comments about The Occupy Wall Street Protesters, i.e, that all they want is a handout only reveals is that he has NOT been listening to what the protests are really about and he no doubt just wants to put his own spin on it.....The protesters only want what is our fair share. Fair wages for honest work. In fact it's the American corporation that have been taking handouts....through subsidies and tax loop holes.

Also, his suggestion that the protesters should heed JFK's words..."Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you you can do for your country"....Are words that the corporations of America need to heed. They are all about benefiting themselves...not workers, not community, not country.

One of the other 99%

Oct. 11 2011 12:09 PM

Or, Joshua Flack, consider the following haiku:

our motto now is
"e pluribus pluribum"--
out of many, more.

Even without The Takeaway, all I hear of OWS down here in the provinces is ineffectual nostalgia for the Sixties, without the great music and the acid. (I do wonder what the population of cell phones is among OWC participants.)

Oct. 11 2011 10:31 AM

The only comparison to OWS and Cairo is the vacuous media projecting their dumb fantasies on to both mobs and deliberately ignoring the repulsive actions and politics being promoted in both cases.

In Cairo, the protesters hated their leader but the OWS crowd are parroting the class warfare words of the President and his party just when the President is calling for public support.
Who is financing this law breaking, Marxist protest that aims to "create a crisis in this country" that the Democrat Party establishment is publicly embracing?
This is the left's third or fourth attempt at imitating the Tea Party who they have been insanely jealous of for three years.
Is this the final and reckless "jump the shark" attempt at getting Obama re-elected and they care not what civil and economic disruption comes of it?
Rather than investigate that possibility, does the media ignore reality in favor of revolution fairytales as they attempt to turn a protesting toad into a prince?

Oct. 11 2011 10:08 AM
anna22 from new york

"It exemplifies the motto E Pluribus Unum, out of many one"
Sorry, nobody told you that this one can be very ugly. "We" know all about grievances, but "we" also know that the countries can totally derailed when "grievances" are used and the aggrieved are manipulated.
Why don't you stop using platitudes and false comparisons and look at reality. It's definitely to early to "make further comparison with the Declaration of Independence, in that it took almost two years from the start of the protests by our Founding Fathers to come up with even the Declaration of Independence," particularly when one can't see what is already a fact - an ugly, very ugly beginning.

Oct. 11 2011 08:58 AM
Joshua Flack

The Government for the people no longer serves their interests. The Declaration of Independence states it is the peoples right to change or abolish any system of Government that no longer serves them (I am paraphrasing.) As the media seems to have difficulties with a protest without clear demands or leadership, I would like to make further comparison with the Declaration of Independence, in that it took almost two years from the start of the protests by our Founding Fathers to come up with even the Declaration of Independence.
Without clear leadership or a clear message, if you care about the people involved you must take a little more time and delve into the process and the multitude of messages. The people have many grievances that have not been heard for many many years, this is a venue for them to air their grievances, and for those with similar concerns to add their voice. It exemplifies the motto E Pluribus Unum, out of many one.

Oct. 11 2011 08:49 AM
anna22 from new york

David, you are correct ... to a degree. But there is another problem (I happen to believe the initial, main, etc.) - insane accumulation of wealth which happens primarily at work (and only secondary on Wall Street)
That's why I think that "Occupy Wall Street" is a diversion and yes, the protests were planned and started by ugly forces. This seems to be a fact.
To me (a historian) the name immediately indicated that the forces behind it are fascist.

Oct. 11 2011 08:21 AM
Laura from Doral, FL

Why should this group adapt to your need of a sound byte to say out loud on the radio. As reporters it is your duty to cover them, whether they are easy to understand or not.

Oct. 11 2011 07:18 AM

The Takeaway, media, newspapers just struggle to attach easy listening slogans to a ground swell. The Takeaway and other media need to report and stop bludgeoning their interviewees into easy listening opinions that fit what the hosts think the explanation should be.

Oct. 11 2011 07:10 AM
david ots from Gardner MA

I sympathize and pity these kids but It is hard to imagine that "wall Street" cares at all. If they want change they should push for a constitutional amendment that prevents "groups" of people, ie corporations, interest groups,unions etc, from making political contributions. We've institutionalized bribery in this country and only an amendment can fix it.

Oct. 11 2011 06:59 AM
Dan from NYC

This movement has been trivialized by media, most notably in its early days of near-zero coverage. This trivialization continues - the same movement resulted in about 50 people being arrested in Boston last night. By what rationale are you ignoring the larger story?


Oct. 11 2011 06:48 AM

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