If Democrats reap a political windfall from Occupy Wall Street, it will not be richly deserved. While it is true that they have been better than the Republicans on issues of economic fairness, that’s not saying much. Although Obama is disliked by many on Wall Street for his rhetoric about how “millionaires and billionaires” need to pay “their fair share” in taxes, the fact is that he decided not to seek fundamental reforms.
It is also a fact that Wall Street is a major source of campaign financing for both parties. At present, Wall Street donors are giving heavily to Romney — a money man by trade who once headed the private equity firm Bain Capital. In July, however, the Center for Responsive Politics reported that one-third of the $35 million collected this year by Obama’s top-tier fundraisers came from the financial industry. Apparently, animosity is no match for self-interest.
By calling attention to this unholy alliance of financial power and political power, the Occupy Wall Street protests struck a nerve. The Republican Party is trapped on the wrong side of this issue. Democrats should be moving boldly, not timidly, to claim the issue of economic justice as their own.