Conservatives love saying that Occupy Wall Street has no coherent idea of what it wants. But it is pretty clear that though demonstrators may disagree on the details, the protests are driven by a bad economy, growing income inequality and the fact that a lot of people can’t get jobs.
So how have Republicans, tea partiers and Fox News hosts responded? By telling demonstrators to stop complaining and get a job…This week Erick Erickson, the blogger for the right-wing Red State, streamlined this already popular talking point by helping to start “We Are The 53 Percent,” a Tumblr presented as a conservative alternative to Occupy Wall Street. The 53% references the 53% of Americans who pay federal income tax, ostensibly in contrast to the protesters who do not.
“I would like to point out to these people that I work three jobs, can’t sell my house in this economy, still am paying massive student loans, and somehow or another do not blame Wall Street for my situation,” Erickson wrote in a post on Red State. “In fact, I’m one of the 53% — the 53% of Americans subsidizing these people so they can go hang out on Wall Street to complain.”
“Get a job hippies!” he added.
And with a true lack of irony, others on the right have delivered a similar message.
Presidential hopeful Herman Cain said that it’s the protesters’ own fault that they’re unemployed. “I would want this crowd to hear first, your success is not dependent upon wishing that someone else is not successful, he said last weekend on the Hugh Hewitt radio show. “Blaming Wall Street and blaming big banks, and blaming those that have succeeded in America under our free market system is never going to make you happy, and it’s never going to make you rich.”
He added that it’s also the result of the Obama Administration’s failed economic policies: “If you look in the mirror, you will realize that the only person that you can blame for what you don’t have is the person you’re looking at in the mirror.”
Glenn Beck said at the Values Voter Summit last weekend that the protesters “just want the free stuff.” He added that though there are people the country who have fallen on hard times, “there are many in this country that I call the ‘fun-employed,’ who have no intention of getting a job.”
Republican strategist Ron Christie said on Hardball: “I feel your pain, I understand where you’re coming from but go get a job.”
Tea partiers, ever-eager to fight against comparisons to Occupy Wall Street, were quick to say that the protesters lack a sense of personal responsibility.
Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots argued that Occupy Wall Street protesters “when they are intelligible, want less of what made America great and more of what is damaging to America: a bigger, more powerful government to come in and take care of them so they don’t have to work like the rest of us who pay our bills,” the New York Daily News reports.
Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips wrote in a blog post: “The clueless revolt continues and it is painfully obvious those who are showing up to ‘protest’ do not have a job. In most cases, it is painfully obvious why they don’t have a job. To paraphrase the Jimmy Buffett song ‘Margaretville,’ it’s your own damn fault.”
And Fox News, historically a big fan of the tea parties, picked up the meme.
Bill O’Reilly argued that unemployed people are just not trying hard enough: “Every storefront I pass by in this city and on Long Island there’s a ‘Help Wanted’. They need bartenders, they need waiters. Every cab firm in the world needs drivers who can speak English. They don’t have any drivers who can speak English. These people won’t take those jobs, they won’t do them.”
Kimberly Guilfoyle, one of the co-hosts of Fox News’ The Five, said on Sean Hannity’s show on September 30: “It’s like Woodstock meets Burning Man meets people with absolutely no purpose or focus in life. No wonder, they have nothing but free time to be down there. They make up a slogan or a cause as they go along. And they are just looking to, like, go out there and dirty the streets.”
Another Fox News contributor Liz Trotta said the protesters were just “people who like good weather.” She continued: “It is unclear what they want, but it’s certainly better going down there and carrying signs than going out and hitting the pavement for a job.”
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg argued last week that the protesters might actually destroy jobs: “You can’t have it both ways: If you want jobs you have to assist companies and give them confidence to go and hire people.”
He added: “The protests that are trying to destroy the jobs of working people in this city aren’t productive.”