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Get a clearer political agenda: Bill Clinton to Wall Street protesters

Tuesday November 08, 2011 11:19:38 AM, Arun Kumar, IANS

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Washington: As the wildly spreading leaderless Occupy Wall Street movement against corporate greed entered its 52nd day, it received some "sympathy" and a bit of advice from former president Bill Clinton - get a clearer political agenda.

Likened at times to social media-driven Arab Spring demonstrations in the Middle East, the protests that began Sep 17 as hundreds of people descended on the streets of Manhattan's financial district have since spread to dozens of other cities across America and even beyond.

Originally aimed at raising awareness about the role financial institutions played in the continued economic downturn affecting the world markets, the protests have also attracted rallies against the war in Afghanistan, the state of the environment, and a wide array of other domestic and international issues.

Yet the Occupy protesters have not explicitly articulated what they want, leading Clinton to suggest that the Occupiers need a clearer political agenda and that they should communicate more with political leaders.

"They have an amorphous set of resentments for which I sympathise," Clinton said in an interview with USA Today. "I don't think Americans can continue this level of income inequality."

But "they need to have some idea of what they want the country to do. If I were in their position, I would invite politicians down to talk to them", Clinton told the publication Monday.

Elisabeth Jacobs, fellow, Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, however, had a different question about the protest movement's "demands".

"It remains to be seen whether the Occupy Wall Street protests will result in meaningful political change or whether they will be a curious historical blip," she wrote.

"But to demand demands from the Occupiers today is a misguided effort, particularly for those who see some merit in their broader message."

Meanwhile, the Occupy protesters in New York City are preparing for the possibility of a punishing winter by erecting huge military-grade tents designed to withstand frigid temperatures and stave off hypothermia.

After incidents of sexual harassment in Zuccotti Park, from where the movement started a women-only tent has been set up for about 15 women. A sign on the front reads: "Women's Safe Sleeping Space".

Three toilets were also installed at a building two blocks from the park.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at






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