3 Types of Wall Street Protesters Hurting Their Own Cause

Protesters Who Don't Grasp Symbolism

I'm really happy to see that you protesters have spread out across numerous major cities in recent days -- not just because it means a movement is forming, but because Wall Street was a symbolically flawed place to hold the protests in the first place. You know who would love to see the economy pick up? The day traders on Wall Street. Or did you think everyone who worked in the financial district of Manhattan was in that richest one percent you heard about in Reich's link above? Wall Street might be one of the centers of the world's economy, but to point a finger at it as if there is one bad man in a three piece suit, smoking cigars and raping the statue of liberty on his mahogany desk is just simplistic. What about the banks, CEOs, and, perhaps most of all, complicit government leading up to and existing during this recession? There is no shortage of blame, and to focus anger at the flailing stock market makes as much sense as protesting cancer outside Memorial Sloan Kettering.

"Call a cab, for Miss Liberty. I'm done."

I always thought the march should be in Washington DC. Look at all the pushback Obama is getting in opposition to his plan that millionaires pay the same percentage in taxes that the middle class does. Don't you think a few thousand angry voters might make a difference in that debate? Or even if you really want the point of this protest to be about prosecuting those in financial quarters who have broken laws with their greed, well, you know they do have a Department of Justice down in D.C. and everything. Why not apply your pressure there? After all, it's not like those corrupt officers of Wall Street were gonna just hand themselves over.

Protesters With Attention Deficit Disorder

I know there's no shortage of things wrong with our country right now, but your movement has its greatest strength if you focus your energies. Let's be specific. Can we start with taxation? You saw the video, right? Taxes on the super rich are generating less income now than they did under earlier Republican Presidents of years ago. And still there's no guarantee anything will change. Again, see the reaction to Obama's tax proposal. But unlike children dreaming of the impossible and possibly undesirable task of changing the nature of capitalism itself, let's focus on something feasible. A new tax structure is possible because it's not new. It's just a question of putting the goal posts where they used to be. And maybe if your support can help change minds, empower the political left, and get something tangible passed, people will no longer be able to discredit you or feign ignorance at your agenda. And you can move on to the next thing from there.

And if you can't keep it just to taxes, can we at least keep the topic to the economy? I know there is no formal list of demands, but at one site, there is a "living document" of demands that range from changing the tax structure to ending on the war on drugs. And in other forums, protesters encourage others to add to and adjust demands. The merit or lack thereof of each of those demands is not the point. The point is focus and insistence on reasonable demands that will grow your numbers.

Focus is hard when there are so many factors causing such a bad situation for so many. And I know it's impossible to expect specific solutions to an entire global economic meltdown, but the better and smarter your behavior, the more your numbers will grow. The more people who are working two jobs for half of what they made three years ago will join you. The fact that liars will lie about your goals and your members does not give you a blank check to raise the ante on the rhetoric getting bigger and louder. Instead, it's a time for increasingly focused, clear-headed behavior. Reasonable, logical demands over and over again until the Sean Hannitys and Ann Coulters of the world look increasingly ridiculous for perpetuating a myth that anyone who thinks our current system is broken is somehow un-American. Because not even they will be able to say that forever. Not when millions of people from every race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political group and age are worried about affording food, paying the rent, and sending their kids to school.

That's why I think the biggest threat to your movement are those of you who would hijack, marginalize, or radicalize the message. It's time for the best of you to move to the front of the line and speak for the millions more waiting to join.

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