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How Occupy Wall Street can change its 'flea party' image [The conversation]

October 13, 2011 |  1:54 pm

Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street has  confused reporters, ruffled conservatives, turned off feminists  and  garnered comparisons to the tea party  since its inception almost a month ago. While the grass-roots movement certainly has its heart in the right place, the so-called 99% has  failed thus far to craft a clear mission

Conservatives have dubbed the movement "the flea party." Writes Ann Coulter:

So far, the only major accomplishment of the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters is that it has finally put an end to their previous initiative, "Occupy Our Mothers' Basements."

It’s not enough to be against corporate greed and income inequality, critics complain. As former President Clinton said on the "Late Show with David Letterman" on Wednesday night: "You need to be for something, not just against something."

Still, "[I]t's a badly needed spark,"  writes The Times' Steve Lopez  about the night he spent with L.A.'s Occupiers. 

What's essential right now, says the Washington Post's Katrina vanden Heuvel, is the message. She writes:

The movement doesn't need a policy or legislative agenda to send its message. The thrust of what it seeks -- fueled both by anger and deep principles -- has moral clarity. It wants corporate money out of politics. It wants the widening gap of income inequality to be narrowed substantially. And it wants meaningful solutions to the jobless crisis. In short, it wants a system that works for the 99 percent.

The Times' Michael Hiltzik agrees:

[T]he concerns of the protesters are considerably more focused than their critics acknowledge. They involve the extreme inequality of wealth and income that has hobbled the U.S. economy over the last few decades, the imbalance between the government assistance given big banking institutions and that offered the homeowners who are their customers, and the failure to implement meaningful reform on elaborate financial strategies and instruments.

But if the movement is going to be more than "The Great Disruption" and actually create the "The Big Shift,"  now's the time to start spinning this thing forward with a game plan and concrete solutions. For that, Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi has devised a list of five demands  to "hit bankers where it hurts."

RELATED:

Photos: 'Occupy' protests

Full coverage:'Occupy' protests

Occupy Wall Street: The new Populists?

Wall Street protests: A long American tradition

What makes those 'mobs' on Wall Street so dangerous

-- Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: Demonstrators with Occupy Wall Street protest in New York. Credit: Timothy A. Clary / AFP / Getty Images

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