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The Occupy Wall Street movement is only likely to impact the presidential campaign by hurting President Obama's chances for reelection.
At this point, it seems that Obama is going to have to run as a centrist who can persuade voters that he is the mature and rational leader who can save the country from its problems. He has to contrast himself with the Tea Party zalots who are so fired by ideology that they go overboard and refuse to compromise. OWS will not help Obama do this. The more that it gets notoriety, the more the Republicans will be able to paint Obama as a radical. They will be able to argue that he would be the President of OWS and not the President of the people who think that OWS is too radical.
Right now, President Obama needs to look like a sane and relatively moderate leader. Any pressure from OWS will hurt him in his attempts to do this.
I agree with the answer above. The real effect of Occupy Wall Street on the presidental election will not be clear until closer to the election. If the movement is still in existence next summer, and if it behaves as many of its members have been behaving lately, and particularly if it becomes violent, then it is likely to benefit the Republican party. Richard Nixon defeated George McGovern handily partly because McGovern was perceived to be the candidate of the "New Left," which often had a radical agenda and used violent methods. If OWS comes to resemble the New Left, it is likely to help elect a Republican president.
I'd like to add that all the impact of OWS thus far has been negative. They have accomplished nothing in their vague goals of taking down "the 1%" and when they appear in the news it is usually because one or more of their number has attacked, raped, and now murdered others. This is not a positive movement, no matter what we think about the state our country is in. We need to focus on fixing the problems at hand, not fostering anarchy through unashamed class warfare. Barack Obama would do well to distance himself from OWS, which will be hard as he is on record supporting them; he should call them out, condemn their violent behavior, and call for the same peaceful debate he asked for after the Tucson shooting last year.
Occupy Wall Street does not seem interested in engaging with the US political system on the terms that work within conventional politics. Because of this, I think the movement will impact the election only when leaders specifically engage with the ideas (and not the people) being bandied about by thedisparate protesters who have flocked to the movement. In other words, as a leaderless movement without specific goals or platforms, they aren't a part of traditional presidential politics.
In that sense though, they have already impacted the presidential election because they have changed the conversation and gotten people to address wage inequality, an issue that wasn't on the political map previously. Everyone from candidates like Mitt Romney and Barack Obama to former politicians like Colin Powell have commented on OWS.
To sum up, their impact won't be specific but rather how the candidates react to the messages coming out of the protest actions. This is in contrast to the Tea Party, which seeks to work within the US political system and endorses candidates for office.
Actually, I don't think OWS will affect the election or its outcome that much, nor do I think it will hurt Obama's re-election prospects. Here's my reasoning:
1) OWS is unlikely to continue anywhere near the 2012 election (another 12 months?), and as has been proven about 3000 times, Americans have a very short political memory.
2) Obama has not endorsed or even engaged the movement directly. I don't think people associate Obama and OWS except for those who never supported Obama in the first place, so they use a broad brush to paint everything and everyone they disagree with as ideologically the same as Obama
3) Obama already has the moderate ground staked out. The left is not that happy wth him because they think he is not liberal enough, certainly not as liberal as OWS
4) The Republican field is very conservative, and to get the nomination in 2012, they will likely need to continue to campaign as such. This merely makes Obama look like the more moderate alternative.
OWS is significant, don't get me wrong, but I think pigeonholing the movement into being viewed on the same level and in the same manner as the President is inaccurate.
I have to concur with other editors. I think the OWS has never had the clear focus and unity of purpose necessary to instigate any meaningful and long-term changes. Therefore the chances of it still being around and still being in the attention of the press by the time that the elections start is very slim. It will fizzle out very soon and be part of history.
I don't think we can know the answer to this right now. If anything, the OWS folks are suggesting that the system is broken, and that neither of the conventional political parties have much of a solution- indeed, they're part of the problem. I've become a little cynical about their ability to horn in on the "legitimate" political process, but I can't say that I fault them for trying to make their voices heard outside a political system that is fueled far more by corporate dollars than actual opinions.
The effect of OWS has a potential for garnering disfavor for candidates who are plainly and closely allied with big business and corporate power lobbies, and in particular with banking and investment corporations. These are seen, even by disgruntled lookers-on of the OWS movement, as the villains of the 21st century and are coming to be in greater and greater disfavor even as the incidents of foreclosures and joblessness increase.
I can answer, as a voting and tax-paying citizen, that this movement has done very little to improve my opinion of the liberal rads. Instead, it has made me see how little a big mess can make. I have read the damages that a certain factor of these bunch of kids has made in local communities and I do not appreciate it one bit.
There is a time for everything and there should be a goal for every huge thing we plan. This movement was meant to shake, but it has not broken a thing. I was once one of them. I would go and join the lines, throw the rocks, camp overnight, and do whatever I had to do to make a difference. A difference that was never made and does not seem to be made.
I appreciate that younger and less experienced or seasoned populations have actually stepped outside their parents' basements and moved outside their PS3's to make a valid point. However, next time? Please make sure that the point that you are trying to make is actually completed and does change something. You (and I inhale deeply as I said this) are our greatest hope for the future.
I have to concur with other editors. I think the OWS has never had the clear focus and unity of purpose necessary to instigate any meaningful and long-term changes. The effect of OWS has a potential for garnering disfavor for candidates who are plainly and closely allied with big business and corporate power lobbies, and in particular with banking and investment corporations.
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