The “occupiers” are frustrated, but their frustrations are as numerous as Lindsay Lohan’s arrests. Most of the protesters hate banks and big corporations. Many despise the capitalistic system and few favor violence to get their hatred across the evening news. But hating rich people – many of whom really do create jobs and contribute mightily to charities – will not resonate into the “change” they claim to desire.
It’s one thing to buy a six-pack of beer and camp out in a tent. It’s quite another to take one evening every two years and attend a political caucus meeting. It’s one thing to scrawl a message on a sign; it’s quite another to run as a delegate for a county or state political convention.
The Occupy Wall Street crowd feels they are left out of the decision-making power circle which impacts the economy and the government. However, you don’t increase your clout by disrupting shipping ports (as in Oakland) or the subway system (as in New York City). You don’t change the tax system by putting your arms around the homeless and telling business executives that they are greedy.
An Associated Press report included many references to the occupiers “changing the debate” in the United States. I’m not sure the occupiers are changing their clothes, let alone the debate. The average American agrees that the wealthy should pay more in taxes and are sour about Wall Street bailouts, but are not willing to sign on with Occupy Wall Street. Americans are concerned with raising families and planning for retirement, not dismantling the economic system.
Occupy Wall Street will not be an agent of change. It will merely be a footnote in history, not a chapter.
Dawn: No doubt the Occupy Wall Street movement has had a difficult time articulating a defined and concise message. The (mostly) young people started as a grassroot movement and blossomed to nearly every major city without clear leadership or goals. This does not mean that the movement is not valid or that it doesn’t matter.
Ironically the Tea Party is granted legitimacy when those participants send mixed messages and hypocrisy in equal doses. “We want less government” unless that includes messing with Medicare or Social Security. “We want to cut government spending” unless that means losing jobs at Hill Air Force Base. The only difference between the Tea Party and the Occupiers is organization and the fact that the Tea Party is made up of older (mostly white) people who, by virtue of their age, have more of an insider track to power.
The Occupiers are not shiftless losers. Many of them have jobs, college degrees, and a good share of idealism. They don’t hate rich people or big corporations. They hate cheaters and bullies.
When a college graduate teaching high school is scraping by and executives at bailed out financial institutions are getting multi-million dollar bonuses, we should all be incensed. When a college graduate is struggling to pay back student loans while those who helped cause the financial crisis have yet to even be charged with a crime, we should all join the movement.
Don’t dismiss the Occupiers because they are young. The campus Vietnam War protest helped sway public opinion and end that war. Martin Luther King was not yet 40 and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee started on college campuses was instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement.
This past “Arab Spring” was largely spearheaded by young people who took to the streets in Cairo. The rebellion in Libya was supported by youthful rebels.
Time will tell if the Occupy Wall Street movement makes a difference. If the Occupiers can mobilize at the election booth, we’ve only just heard the beginnings of “change.”