Occupy Wall Street: Full of Sound and Fury
posted at 1:36 pm on October 3, 2011 by Karl
A slice of the establishment media is increasingly taken with comparing Occupy Wall Street — the two-week old protest against “banksters” and corporate tycoons — with the revolutionary protests of the “Arab Spring.” James Joyner correctly observes what an insult that is to the protesters who (however problematic some of them may be) risked death to overturn repressive dictatorships. Indeed, the comparison is doubly insulting to the intelligence of the reader, given that those making it generally support Team Obama, which is run and funded by said banksters and would be the dictatorship in this scenario. The people floating the metaphor do not expect or hope for a revolution. And the metaphor crumbles even further on close examination.
Nicholas Kristof explains the metaphor:
I tweeted that the protest reminded me a bit of Tahrir Square in Cairo, and that raised eyebrows. True, no bullets are whizzing around, and the movement won’t unseat any dictators. But there is the same cohort of alienated young people, and the same savvy use of Twitter and other social media to recruit more participants. Most of all, there’s a similar tide of youthful frustration with a political and economic system that protesters regard as broken, corrupt, unresponsive and unaccountable.
However, there is no tide — at least not one unique to American youths. To be sure, the youth vote continues to lean left in general, but Democrats have lost about half their edge with young voters to the GOP since 2008. Indeed, the GOP now has an advantage with white youths, suggesting that the youth vote is following the same trends we see in the electorate as a whole. Moreover, the most recent dKos/SEIU poll — which ought to harbor no bias against the left — asked, “Which of the following statements best describes your opinion on the United States’ current economic situation: corporate greed helped lead to the current crisis and these practices need to be reined in to fix our economy, OR now is not the time to constrict corporations while we are trying to get our economy back on track?” The overall split was 57/37; the split for 18-29 year olds was 52/42.
In short, Occupy Wall Street does not appear to reflect any particular revolutionary sentiment among the American youth vote. As for the segment of the youth vote attracted to the protests, what are they going to do? Vote for Obama, as Kristof and his fellow travelers in the media almost certainly will? The hipster demographic is already disillusioned with The One. Write in someone like Ralph Nader or Bernie Sanders? Stay home with their bongs? The left-leaning media is having its fantasy moment here, but the primary beneficiary of Occupy Wall Street is probably the GOP.