What do the Occupy Wall Street Protesters Want?
As best I can tell, it is ending the influence and control of corporate money on politics.
Media has generally seemed to given up deciphering the goals of Occupy Wall Street protesters: Yahoo! News reported protesters have a "murky agenda", while Market Watch called it a "collective, vague effort".
Fox News picked up one list and ran with with, a list the Occupy Wall Street webmasters later distanced themselves from, stating plainly "There is NO official list of demands." To be fair, Fox did note the demands were from "an activist" and not a formal statement.
The Declaration of of the Occupation of New York City is a little more concrete and was accepted by the NYCGA, the protest's governing body of sorts, but not so much a list of demand as a list of grievances.
Looking further back, Adbusters, which was critical in building interest and enthusiasm for the protests, was insistent early on in pushing the idea of a "One Demand" message. In July, the proposed demand was "that Barack Obama ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington", which is a solid, concrete step. Whether or not you think it is a good one, an effective one, or a plausible one, it's hard to argue that it is not doable. This "one demand" was never formally or officially endorsed, as far as I can tell, with many instead opting for the idea that the one demand is a process, often manifesting as multiple, sometimes conflicting "one demands".
Given all that, it's relatively easy to see why adjectives like "murky" and "vague" are used, but I think it's a disservice to understanding the protests: In much of the literature, capital punishment, political corruption, healthcare inequality and more are treated as symptoms of the strong influence corporate money has in Washington. Individually these smaller "one demands" might seem contradictory, but it appears in much of the literature that the frustrations are all tied back to the basic belief that no matter what the individual cause is, the solution is made impossible by elected representation being deeply in bed with corporate interests.
That's a much clearer, actionable thesis, with specific remedies, than I have so far seen elsewhere, and it lends itself to debate, refinement and action. It will be interesting to see the occupiers can consolidate around that message and turn it into political action.
I should note that this has all been gathered second and third hand, from media reports, protest resources, blog posts and more. It could easily be wildly inaccurate, particularly since it applies to a very fluid situation. Adbusters has returned several times to the idea of the one demand, and they might prove as good a resource as any for following its refinement.