Ezra Klein says it’s not the protests themselves that have caused him to take Occupy Wall Street seriously. It’s a Tumblr called, “We Are The 99 Percent,” full of personal stories of people who have, seemingly, done everything right but are still struggling with debt, unemployment, and a stagnant future:
This is why I’m taking Occupy Wall Street — or, perhaps more specifically, the ‘We Are The 99 Percent’ movement — seriously. There are a lot of people who are getting an unusually raw deal right now. There is a small group of people who are getting an unusually good deal right now. That doesn’t sound to me like a stable equilibrium.
The organizers of Occupy Wall Street are fighting to upend the system. But what gives their movement the potential for power and potency is the masses who just want the system to work the way they were promised it would work. It’s not that 99 percent of Americans are really struggling. It’s not that 99 percent of Americans want a revolution. It’s that 99 percent of Americans sense that the fundamental bargain of our economy — work hard, play by the rules, get ahead — has been broken, and they want to see it restored.
I haven’t followed OWS super closely, but I started taking it seriously when the right-wing media started sounding a little scared. That was sometime last week after several unions joined the movement, and while I can’t point to anything specific, it felt as though the tone at Fox and its allies changed a bit from lighthearted mockery to something a little more serious, as if OWS was a real threat that needed to be put in its place.
Anyway, we’ll see. To be truly effective, OWS will have to get a lot bigger and lot more persistent. It’s still not clear if this is something that can grow to a million+ people and stay active for multiple years. Because that’s what it will take. For more, Lauren Ellis and Tasneem Raja have a roundup of OWS activities, coverage, and an interactive map of ongoing and planned protests.