Public opinion is irrelevant
When Occupy started, there were polls that showed the public supported it. Later, polls showed that support had dropped and a majority no longer supported Occupy. In the first case progressives were pleased, in the second upset.
I didn’t care either time. Repeat after me:
Public opinion does not matter.
It is irrelevant. A large majority of the population wanted a public option added to the healthcare bill. A small majority wanted single payor. Calls against TARP were running 100:1 to 1200:1 against. There is no public option, there is no single payer, and TARP passed.
In Europe every government other than Iceland has been sure to never allow a referendum on austerity. Members of the Euro-zone like Spain and Greece and Italy have not had referendums on whether to leave the Euro. They have had elections in some cases, but both major parties are FOR austerity (it’s not clear that citizens entirely understand this, watching Spaniards talking about how they had voted against austerity in the recent election was pathetic. They elected a government which will go even more hardcore on austerity.)
Most countries in the developed world do not have functioning democracies in any meaningful sense. You can vote for party A, B, or C, but they will all do substantially the same things, differing only in how fast they do them and the degree of gratuitous cruelty they engage in.
Your opinion does not matter. Politicians are almost entirely in the thrall of a neo-liberal ideology, and are almost entirely the bought and paid servants of the very rich. If a politician does what the oligarchy wants, he or she will be taken care of, even if thrown out of office. If they don’t, money and influence will be used against them, and once out of office they will be on their own.
Politicians do not work for you. Neither, just to be clear, do the police. Nothing is more pathetic than watching folks at Occupy who seem to genuinely believe the cops are on their side.
Our elites will do what they will do regardless of what public opinion is.
What matters is not “opinion”, but action. So with regards to Occupy, all I cared about is how many people were being radicalized—whether a cadre was being formed; and how much of the population supported them in real terms. People who would donate goods, would donate money, would spread the message actively, would go down during the day.
What I care about in general, is how many people are willing to impose costs on the oligarchy. These can be financial costs (as when French protestors occupied a refinery), or they can be personal costs, such as heckling politicians and the rich, slashing the tires of their cars (the Argentines did that, by the way) or, if rioting, rioting where they live and work.
Understand, the true rich live in the bubble. They fly on private jets, they travel by helicopter, if they stay in hotels they cost tens of thousands of dollars a night and have private entrances, check-ins, elevators and so on that you as a peon never see or use unless you are part of their direct servant class. Being in the bubble means never having to deal with a human being who isn’t directly financially dependent. These people do not care what you ‘think’, they only care if you can damage their interests.
Politicians live less in the bubble. You can reach them, and let them know what you think. Loudly and insistently. At their homes. Their restaurants. Their fund raisers. Everywhere they go. Don’t “occupy Wall Street”. Occupy Bloomberg. Go everywhere he goes, and make his life living hell. That’s a cost to him.
Until politicians fear you more than they fear the rich and covet the favors and money of the rich, they will continue to serve the rich first. Their salaries are not that important to them, they do not work for you, and they don’t fear you enough.
But that won’t change because of “opinion”. Opinions don’t matter in aristocracies or oligarchies, and that’s what we are creating, what we’re heading towards. What matters isn’t what the public thinks, what matters is what the public does which has a tangible, real, cost to politicians or their masters.
So I no longer care about polls in almost all cases. They don’t matter. Likewise most elections: elect whoever you want, the policies will remain the same except on the margins as long as the politicians don’t work for you, but for the rich.
Your “opinion” is irrelevant. The powerful do not care what you think.