Burning Question

Occupy Wall Street: Should protesters have just voted instead?

Rep. Barney Frank sympathizes with OWS, but wonders where protesters were a year ago, when the anti-regulation GOP cleaned up at the ballot box

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) doesn't have much use for protests, he told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Monday night. So while he supports much of Occupy Wall Street's aims, Frank said their efforts to rein in Wall Street would have been better served at the ballot box. "We had an election last year in which people who disagree with them, and disagree with me and with you, got elected," he told Maddow. "I don't know what the voting behavior is of all these people, but I'm a little bit unhappy when people didn't vote last time blame me for the consequences of their not voting." (Watch video below) Does Frank have a valid point?

Without voting, this is mostly hot air: The Occupy Wall Street movement has seriously shaped the global debate about financial regulation and unjust income inequality, says The Montreal Gazette in an editorial. But "what counts in the end is the action they generate," and in enlightened democracies, that means voting. Bringing about meaningful change "takes more than merely complaining, legitimate as the complaints may be.""An idea for the Occupy protesters: Vote"

OWS doesn't have the muscle to swing elections: "Americans who actually vote are relatively hostile to the costumed and/or unwashed mobs that take to the streets to lengthen their commute," says Chris Ladd in FrumForum. Like the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street is a vocal minority that can only make a scene, not win national elections. After all, "if the OWS protesters genuinely represent the 99 percent, why aren’t they in office instead of sleeping in a park?""They wouldn't occupy if they had the votes"

Why is this an either/or choice? The Tea Party took to the streets, then voted, says Jenée Desmond-Harris in The Root. A similar "combination of activism and traditional political participation isn't too much to ask" of the Occupy movement. Given the low youth turnout in 2010, Frank has some reason to be frustrated. But it's probably "more productive to harness the energy of Occupy Wall Street than to chastise participants for what they may or may not have done in years past.""Barney Frank to Occupy Wall Street: Vote!"

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