The movement has arisen from a simple group of protestors occupying Wall Street in protest of big businesses’ grip on the throat of the U.S. economy and has bloomed across the nation with sister protests in cities and towns large and small.
Occupy has peacefully brought forth the discontent simmering under the surface of an electorate ignored by those they put in office; and, they’ve brought a variety of issues into the national dialogue in an attempt to pressure the politicians into acting for change.
It’s a good start, but…
There’s only one problem, and it was alluded to several weeks ago by businessman and philanthropist Russell Simmons on Twitter (@UncleRush).
“OWS can set up satellite offices all ovr the country & the revolution shld expand we cn do more from an organized effort out of offices”.
Occupy’s next act needs to be to establish a credible and effective presence across the country. It can start anchoring itself where it needs to be by renting office space with donated funds. This shouldn’t be hard to do with the number of empty storefronts and foreclosed properties dotting the nation in cities large and small.
Planting roots as opposed to relying on nomadic and sporadic demonstrations would immediately accomplish two very important things missing from the movement:
First, it would give Occupy a permanent home in cities and towns where police can’t barge in and arbitrarily pepper spray or otherwise harass them.
Up to now, peaceful mobs have been great, but as the recent orchestrated round-ups have proved, for Occupy this becomes more a game of catch-us-if-you-can or whack-a-mole with the message getting diluted in the mess.
After the initial attention-getting, they are swept up and carted away like misplaced New Year’s Eve confetti.
The longer the flash mob component of Occupy goes and the greater the number of protest gatherings so too will grow the likelihood of something very bad happening. It only takes a few shattered windows or a misplaced brick thrown by a right-wing plant to unnerve police into over-reacting and possibly shooting bullets instead of pepper spray.
Second, renting office space for centralized and satellite offices forces them into a very critical next phase of development.
Though the movement prides itself on being ‘leaderless’ and letting the people have a say in General Assemblies without censure or debasement, they run the very real risk of marginalizing themselves if they don’t come up with some form of centralized leadership core that promotes a consistent message.
In essence, a unified, specific list of grievances and Occupy’s solutions to those grievances empower them with credibility and raise them from the status of nuisance-du-jour.
Until then, the movement is portrayed by the media as a bunch of young college graduates who already feel disrespected and disenfranchised, vagabonding about from city to city with bongos, tents and a guitar and an obscure mission to tell the world they are fed up and demand change.
Pointedly, the majority of media coverage focuses on young adults in interviews and shock shots; but the movement is decidedly made up of a significant age diversity that is not coming across on television.
This weeks’ demonstration is for Occupy to sit in front of foreclosures and try to prevent homes from being taken from their owners; with another potentially more impactful protest in Washington today.
Without a consistent protest presence in D.C., what’s next?
Occupy the Repo Man?
Occupy McDonalds because they serve unhealthy food?
Occupy Greenwich Village or Key West to stand up for the rights of gay people?
You get the idea.
The movement is trying to spread it’s blanket of discontent over every ill that the country presently suffers, and it can’t be done in this fashion.
Demonstrations are great; they exemplify freedom of expression and accentuate the voice of the people with dramatic scenes of numbers of disenfranchised and otherwise discontented souls being swept up like trash by local police squads.
Occupy could do well to adopt the mantra, “It’s the economy, stupid”.
There are over 13 million Americans out of work, and the jobs that are being created are the wrong kind (minimum wage retail and low-paying seasonal temporary), and all of our ills begin and end with lack of jobs.
The folks in Washington, D.C. will never hear the message as long as they can change the channel or turn the sound down on their televisions. But if Occupy digs in with roots in local communities by renting space, and then can unite and converge on the nation’s capital in one loud voice on a regular basis, change will indeed come.
Be sure to read more from Political Buzz Examiner Glenn Osrin here.
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