Traveling down to New York City for the “Occupy Wall Street” protest, I believed that I would soon be among the uneducated and (literally) unwashed masses. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
For one thing, during my three hours among the protestors, I did see one or two people with dreadlocks. But for the most part, people were relatively hygienic. The group of protestors with whom I spent time had all graduated from college. About half of them had jobs. There was diversity, there was education and there was real outrage.
The media has gotten some things right about the protests. There were drum circles. There was tension with local businesses. (When I tried to buy a muffin from a local store, the cashier ushered me out.) There were policemen. Some people were calling for anarchy, and some people were self-defined communists.
If there is one thing that can be said about the protesters, it is that they have a central message — despite what the media would have us believe. All 20 protesters I interviewed had three central concerns: accountability for corporations, higher taxes on big business and more job creation programs. They differed only in the specifics: only two people supported abolishing the Federal Reserve, and only 8 supported the 2008 bailouts.
In the end, the movement doesn’t seem to be about growing government or socialism or any of the things I’ve been told it is. Occupy Wall Street is really about holding big business accountable for its mess — and for the disproportional influence it wields in politics. The movement is really filled with Americans who love their country and want to put it on what they see as the right path.