The Spectacle Blog

Occupy Wall Street

By on 10.3.11 | 5:09PM

Just a quick note on the Occupy Wall Street movement that is (or isn't) gaining steam. 

A number of outlets (including new media created by the Occupy Wall Street folks themselves) have reported that many members of the movement hope that it can generate a political and cultural impact similar to the Tea Party's.

What separates the Tea Party from other grassroots movements is simply its demographics. While the Tea Party comprises many different age and socioeconomic groups, its defining characteristic seems to be the number of middle-aged, middle-class people involved for no obviously self-interested motives. 

When young people demonstrate or riot, it's not such a big deal. They don't have many responsibilities, and they aren't very engaged in politics. So when a bunch of 20-somethings with nothing to lose show up at the G-20, or hundreds of buses of students flood into D.C. for the March for Life, it's routine. The same goes for rallies in which the participants clearly have some something to gain, for instance the regular huge pro-immigration rallies here in D.C. or the fairly large marijuana legalization events in a number of cities. 

It's much harder to rally people who have families, jobs, etc., and for whom the status quo, broadly is working well. The Tea Party seems to be skewed toward that kind of participant. 

Judging by photos of Occupy Wall Street activists, the movement, for now at least, appears to be closer to the "rebellious youth" model of protest than the "fed-up citizenry" feel of the Tea Party. We'll see where it goes from here. 

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