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While some stories covered OWS events around Martin Luther King Day and the Occupy Congress event in DC yesterday, more stories focused on the way that OWS themes and populist rhetoric has continued to feature in the national discourse, particularly in the Republican presidential candidate debates.
The “rebranded” Occupy San Francisco movement is holding a demonstration against banks in the Financial District on Friday, reported the San Francisco Examiner. The movement, renamed “Occupy Wall Street West,” shows little interest in re-establishing encampments and will focus on mass demonstrations against financial institutions and home foreclosures. On Friday, thousands of protesters and more than 50 supporting groups, including the San Francisco Labor Council, will target Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Grand Hyatt, an ICE field office, and other locations. For example, Pride at Work did a protest “flash mob” of Wells Fargo in San Francisco, Occupy Telephone. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czKY3Hnbevs
OWS IN NATIONAL DISCOURSE
As Romney maintains his lead as the Republican presidential frontrunner, other candidates have criticized Romney’s record at Bain Capital. The Wall Street Journal highlighted what seems to be an “Occupy Romney” strategy. The New York Times noted that Gingrich accused Romney of “looting” companies while Perry suggested Romney engaged in “vulture capitalism.” Before OWS, few could imagine these attacks coming from Republicans, noted Peter Dreir for the Huffington Post. As Nate Silver tweeted fivethirtyeight commented:
#Occupy has had more than a little influence when the Gov. of Texas is calling his party's likely nominee a "vulture capitalist" OWS has also shifted the larger national discourse away from Republican talking points about the “debt crisis” and overregulation, and towards discussion of wealth inequality. Many researchers have acknowledged the economic mobility gap between Americans and their peers in Canada and Western Europe, as have some several prominent Republicans, noted the New York Times. A new Washington Post poll found that a sizable majority sees the current economic system as inherently unfair in a way that favors the wealthy, and sees this as a more serious problem facing America than government regulation of the free market: What do you think is the bigger problem in this country—unfairness in the economic system that favors the wealthy, or over-regulation of the free market that interferes with growth and prosperity? Responses: economic unfairness (55), market overregulation (35).
Among the 55% who see economic fairness as the main problem, Obama is thought better equipped than a GOP candidate for president to deal with it 35 to 15 (4 No opinion). Moderates see economic unfairness as a bigger problem than market overregulation by 59-29. Washington Post’s Greg Sargent argues that this question goes directly to the heart of the economic argument that will decide the 2012 campaign. Sargent has also paid close attention to how OWS rhetoric is affecting moderates, independents and white working class voters in the upcoming elections. Sargent argues that the Democrats’ attacks on Romney’s Bain years are an effort to limit Dem losses among white working class voters.