The lead paragraph of The Associated Press dispatch out of New York City reporting on the proliferating Occupy Wall Street protest movement pretty much outlined the fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into:
“Protests against Wall Street spread across the country Monday as demonstrators marched on Federal Reserve banks and camped out in parks from Los Angeles to Portland, Maine, in a show of anger over the wobbly economy and what they see as corporate greed.”
Activists in a rapidly growing number of cities were reported showing solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement that began in mid-September with a few dozen demonstrators who tried to pitch tents in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Since then, hundreds have set up camp in a nearby park and have kept the demonstration going.
Following the New York City lead, Rhode Island now has its Occupy Providence, and California its Occupy Los Angeles. In Idaho it is Occupy Boise, while in Portland’s Monument Square it is Occupy Maine. (Leave it to the Portland crowd to have the chutzpah to presume that to occupy Portland is to occupy all of Maine.)
But not to worry. As the natives grow ever more restless over the economic doom and gloom that permeates the nation, it seems only a matter of time before we have our own low-budget revolutionary sideshow here in The Real Maine. Occupy Meddybemps, perhaps. Or Occupy Cyr Plantation.
“The American people are very frustrated, and have been for a long time,” President Barack Obama said at a White House news conference Thursday in answer to a reporter’s question about the Occupy Wall Street movement. He said the frustration is with the financial system in this country and the perception that not everyone is playing the game by the same rules. As well, he said, protesters are cynical about Congress having an agenda of its own, “and that cynicism is not going to be easily overcome.”
The Wall Street protesters might be considered the left’s version of the right’s tea party movement, although to suggest as much can incite the bomb throwers on both sides of the political fence, as Bangor Daily News readers saw on Thursday in email postings on the editorial page of the newspaper. The posts were in response to a BDN editorial commenting on possible common ground between the two groups, particularly in respect to grievances about federal fiscal policy.
From a reader signing in as “fwteagles” came this barn-burner: “The tea party is fake and AstroTurf, funded by the Koch brothers. They’re far more concerned with having a Kenyan in the White House than actual and real problems. If they cared about anything they say they do, they’d be out there protesting, too. The standard of living is gone for all except the wealthiest 1 percent who have never been richer and accumulated more wealth in history. There should be an outrage. But apparently there are some who ‘deserve’ to protest, while others don’t. Typical hypocrisy.”
A counter-zinger, from “4lifeandfreedom” evened things up a bit in the war of words: “Corruption, greed, narcissism, the ‘you-owe-me’ mentality are rampant in America, and that can be seen by anyone with eyes, ears and common sense. The Wall Street and Portland protesters and others joining in across the country are being prodded by [former Obama administration ‘green’ czar] Van Jones. Utter chaos is what the liberals want in order to promote their agenda.’’
Several Democratic lawmakers have expressed support for the Wall Street protesters, while Republican presidential hopefuls and businessmen Herman Cain and Mitt Romney have given them two thumbs down for their efforts.
The AP quoted Cain as saying the activists “are basically saying that somehow the government is supposed to take from those that have succeeded and give to those who want to protest. That’s not the way America was built.” CBS reported that Romney had characterized the protests as “class warfare.”
Many Americans might agree with those assessments, and as many might not. To each his own. But I’m guessing there might be agreement on the bottom line here: When the left and the right are in simultaneous revolt mode and the broad middle is not all that happy either, it is a good indication that the perfect storm may be brewing and the guy at the helm of the ship of state has a bit of a problem on his hands.
BDN columnist Kent Ward lives in Limestone. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.