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What they’re fighting for

There are lots of questions about what the Occupy Wall Street protesters want, what they stand for, what they hope to accomplish. Do people really need to ask that question after years of economic stagnation and Beltway paralysis? Our nation’s financial and political institutions are broken, unable to respond to the needs of the majority of Americans.

But for the obtuse, there is no better explanation of why people are pissed off than this quote from Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren:

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“I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.’ No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody.

“You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did.

“Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

That quote is from a video that has gone viral around the country, with nearly 700,000 views on YouTube alone. It was an unexpected kick-off to a Senate campaign that raised $3.1 million in just six weeks. By comparison, former Virginia Gov. and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine raised $2.25 million in his quarter in the race — that is, in 12 weeks. In fact, no other Senate candidate this cycle has crossed $3 million this quickly. And since 96 percent of Warren’s haul came in from donations under $100, she hasn’t even begun to tap out this first round of donors. This isn’t the low-hanging fruit of your typical first-quarter candidate fundraising. At this point, you don’t have to go out on a limb to predict that Warren will be the top Senate fundraiser this entire cycle. 

Turns out, connecting with people has better financial rewards than merely being connected.

People are angry, and they see a government willing to bail out rich investors on Wall Street while ignoring the plight of regular Americans — the other 99 percent. They see Republicans on Capitol Hill demanding that the nation’s meager social net get torn to shreds, while protecting their wealthiest friends from feeling any of the “shared sacrifice” the rest of us are supposed to endure. They see Democrats unable or unwilling to stand up to GOP bullying, refusing time and time again to pursue a populist agenda despite strong public support. They see the Obama administration infested with Goldman Sachs alumni from top to bottom. 

People are angry at an economic system that has seen average annual household income flat-line for the last 20 years while the income of the top 1 percent has quadrupled to nearly $2 million a year. 

So what are those protesters fighting for? The same thing Elizabeth Warren will fight for when elected to the Senate. 

If you still don’t understand, then you’re probably part of the problem.

Moulitsas is the publisher and founder of Daily Kos (dailykos.com)