Some participants are protesting “corporate greed,” others object to the role of corporations in politics, and still others appear to be venting general anger and frustration about our economic problems. Similar protests have occurred in other cities, too. (The story linked above says “A group in Columbus, Ohio, also marched on the capital city’s street” — which makes our fair city sound like a one-horse town. Hey, AP! For the record, we’ve got more than one street in Columbus.)
I don’t blame people for protesting. In my view, the Wall Street protests are a flip side of the Tea Party protests that started in 2009 and spawned significant grass-roots politicking. The Tea Partiers dressed in colonial garb and the Wall Street protesters dress as corporate zombies, but both are expressing a deep concern, shared by many Americans, that the country is heading in the wrong direction. The economy sucks, jobs are scarce, and nobody seems to be doing much about the problem. The two groups’ proposed solutions to the problems are different, but the deep-rooted anger about the problems in the same.
The great thing about America is that the First Amendment allows the anger and frustration to be vented through peaceful protest, and the act of protest allows the protesters’ message to reach a wider audience. If the protest strikes a chord with a sufficiently large segment of the population, as happened with the Tea Party, then stray protests can become a movement. It remains to be seen whether the Wall Street protests have that kind of broad impact or staying power, but we’ll find out soon enough. Until then, I say let them protest, and applaud their exercise of their First Amendment rights.