New York Times Editorial Page Comes Out Solidly on the Side of the 99%

As the Occupy Wall Street protests spread from Lower Manhattan to Washington and other cities, the chattering classes keep complaining that the marchers lack a clear message and specific policy prescriptions. The message — and the solutions — should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention since the economy went into a recession that continues to sock the middle class while the rich have recovered and prospered. The problem is that no one in Washington has been listening.

That's not an op-ed contributor to the U.S.'s paper of record--it's the official editorial page, coming down solidly on the side of the "99%," the protesters nearly a month in to their occupation of Liberty Plaza (formerly called Zuccotti Park) in Lower Manhattan who have spawned a movement around the country and even around the world, as Londoners today are borrowing the language from the "occupiers." 

TheNew York Times, which isn't exactly known for embracing political protest or, indeed, class-based populist messaging, is making a strong statement in this editorial, saying: 

The protests, though, are more than a youth uprising. The protesters’ own problems are only one illustration of the ways in which the economy is not working for most Americans. They are exactly right when they say that the financial sector, with regulators and elected officials in collusion, inflated and profited from a credit bubble that burst, costing millions of Americans their jobs, incomes, savings and home equity. As the bad times have endured, Americans have also lost their belief in redress and recovery.

They endorse not only the message, but even the tactics--while staying away from declaring the protesters' right to indefinitely occupy Liberty Plaza and leaving quite alone the conflicts with police or the desperate attempts by billionaire mayor Mike Bloomberg to come up with an anti-protest message that sticks, they seem to understand that the claim of public space for protest action is, in fact, the demand of this movement. 

It is not the job of the protesters to draft legislation. That’s the job of the nation’s leaders, and if they had been doing it all along there might not be a need for these marches and rallies. Because they have not, the public airing of grievances is a legitimate and important end in itself. It is also the first line of defense against a return to the Wall Street ways that plunged the nation into an economic crisis from which it has yet to emerge.

If even the staid and centrist New York Times editorial page gets it, the "Occupy Everywhere" movement has truly struck a nerve in US culture. 

AlterNet / By Sarah Jaffe

Posted at October 9, 2011, 5:14am

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