Wall Street Protests Taking on a Political Hue

Washington, Oct 23 (IANS): With the 2012 election scene warming up, the snowballing wall street protests against corporate greed are slowly but surely taking on a political hue as all things are wont to do during the election season.

With his approval rating down to 41 percent, according to the latest Gallup poll, an 18 point drop since he took over in January 2009, President Barack Obama has gradually though not fully moved to the side of the protesters. But while trying to use the movement as a vehicle to attack opposition Republican economic policies, he has also sought not to alienate Wall Street, whose ranks include some of his top fundraisers.

Obama who has raised tens of millions of dollars for two presidential campaigns from Wall Street interests has also stressed the need for "a strong, effective financial sector in order for us to grow." As the Washington Post reported this week, he and the Democratic National Committee have pulled in $15.6 million from the financial industry so far, more than the entire Republican presidential field combined.

Analysts have pointed out the perils of Obama identifying too closely with the Occupy movement and centrist Democrats have warned him to stay away lest he get burned if the movement becomes too radical for mainstream Americans.

Obama has even compared the Occupy protests to the conservative Tea Party movement in the Republican camp saying they are "not that different from some of the protests we saw coming from the Tea Party."

"Both on the left and the right I think that people feel separated from their government," Obama told ABC News. "They feel their institutions aren't looking out for them."

But sensing that Democrats are eyeing the Occupy movement as a vehicle for energising the left in the 2012 elections, conservatives have shunned the comparison with Tea Party Patriots saying "Occupy Wall Street? They're No Tea Partiers."

Observers, however, see many common traits between Occupy protestors, born in New York Sep 17 after a call to action by Vancouver-based activist magazine Adbusters, and the two year old Tea Party taking its name from the Boston Tea Party protest by colonists who objected to a British tax on tea in 1773.

Both voice similar opinions on the 2008 bank bailout, the federal deficit and government spending, and the influence of corporations and money on Congress. Where they differ is in where they place the blame.

While Occupy forces find fault in the banks and super-rich, the Tea Party movement blames the government for the economic calamity brought on by the mortgage crisis.

But given the fact that so far, most Americans do not align with either movement, as shown by recent polls, it's hard to say which movement will carry the day - and with it which party or candidate - come election time in November 2012.


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