(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) In a statement following the Senate's rejection of the proposed Buffett Rule to impose a 30 per cent minimum tax rate on those making more than 1 million a year, President Obama accused Senate Republicans of "choosing once again to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest few Americans at the expense of the middle class."
And in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, the president openly embraced Occupy Wall Street as "just one vivid expression of a broader anxiety."
These remarks illustrate an important, but largely unrecognised, point about why and how the Obama campaign has retooled its message and strategy. Put simply, President Obama has effectively made class warfare the central organising strategy of his reelection campaign.
Moreover, it is becoming increasingly clear that Occupy Wall Street (OWS - while less visibly active in recent months following clashes with the police, infighting, and eviction from its flagship encampment in New York's Zuccotti Park last November - is nonetheless seizing control of the political debate in America this election year.
OWS already has had a clear and demonstrable impact on both the Obama and Romney campaigns"arguably becoming the most important outside influence so far in this year's election campaign dialogue.
President Obama and the Democrats have been increasingly echoing the central themes that OWS introduced last fall - emphasising unfairness in American society, income inequality, and the need to redistribute wealth.
Mitt Romney - who has struggled throughout this campaign on how to address questions surrounding Bain Capital, his overall wealth, the tax rates he pays, and what role Wall Street and business should play in promoting economic growth and job development - sought to tap into OWS themes at a rally in New Hampshire on April 24 with a speech centered around "the unfairness of America today."
Moreover, the themes and rhetoric that Occupy Wall Street introduced have captured enough attention to go beyond the political hemisphere, to influence Wall Street itself.
Nowhere was this clearer than last week when for the first time in Wall Street history, Citigroup shareholders united in opposition to a proposed 15 million pay package for its chief executive, Vikram S. Pandit.
The shareholder vote, which comes amid a rising national debate over income inequality, suggests that anger over pay for chief executives has spread from Occupy Wall Street to influence actual behavior on Wall Street as well.
President Obama has retooled his campaign message and has acted as an effective amplifier and advocate of Occupy Wall Street's core messages since the beginning of 2012. His State of the Union address focused on the need for fairness and equality in American society and "an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules."
The president has also emphasised time and again the need to redistribute wealth and income, and the need to protect all Americans from rapacious oil companies, banks, insurance companies, and the wealthy in general.
A new follow-up survey conducted recently by my firm on Occupy Wall Street goals and objectives shows that the movement has new and bolder aspirations to use the rhetorical influence it has already won to fundamentally alter government policy and change American politics and society in ways that were previously unimaginable.
The survey results show that OWS believes it has vocalised frustrations shared by a broad mass of the American people (65 per cent), and is now controlling the national dialogue (77 per cent) and influencing both President Obama and the Democratic Party (54 per cent - at least in terms of strategy and rhetoric.
Moreover, we found that the view that the movement has become quiescent is fundamentally wrong.
If anything, OWS has become even more radical since our October poll-when respondents said they were ready and willing to use civil disobedience (98 per cent) and violence (31 per cent) as a means of achieving OWS' agenda.
They seek nothing less than a fundamental overhaul of American society, going well beyond the policy prescriptions of many European and Scandinavian social democratic societies.
The activists we interviewed made it clear that they oppose American-style capitalism (53 per cent), and believe in massive redistribution of wealth (71 per cent), dramatically higher taxes (85 per cent), and greater government regulation and control over the economy (79 per cent).
Seventy-nine per cent say that government has a moral responsibility to guarantee health care, a college education, and a secure retirement for all, no matter what the cost - a 14-point increase from 65 per cent who gave this answer in our fall survey.
As the current survey results indicate, the movement plans to go beyond its achievement of controlling the national political dialogue and influencing both President Obama and the Democrats to an even more ambitious agenda of tangible social and political change.
Douglas Schoen is a political strategist. Schoen has worked on numerous campaigns, including those of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, Evan Bayh, Tony Blair, and Ed Koch