Now I’m a huge supporter of the Occupy movement. If you’ve read any of my posts over the last couple of months, you’d know I have no love loss for big banks, major corporations and even the government. And it’s about time someone stood up and said something, and I’m glad Occupy has.
The Occupy Movement has been occupying a lot a of things. They’ve occupied Wall Street, along with a whole lot of other streets around the country … and the world. The movement has protested unethical practices and outright thievery by the banks. They’ve protested high college tuition – and most of all they’ve protested the economic inequality that has become commonplace throughout world in the last decade. And as I write this, the “occupier”s are occupying Congress in protest of home foreclosures.
While there’s a lot of exposure being generated (both good and bad) – not all has turned out as wished. The “occupiers,” or protesters as the press calls them (I like freedom fighters, better), have not had an easy run. They have been characterized as “the unemployed and unwashed.” Their encampments have been destroyed. And they’ve been beaten … no matter the age, gender, persuasion or profession. Even the press corp covering the movement has been treated with disdain.
One thing the Occupy Movement has done though, is ruffled a whole lot of feathers. It seems like anyone with a stake in the status quo is “hell bent” to put these hooligans in their place. Panelists on Fox News have even gone so far to say that real Americans should exercise their 2nd Amendment rights and rally against the “great unwashed.”
You’d think some of the liberal members of Congress would side with the movement. But nooooo! After all, their hands are in the coffers too, just like their brethren on the other side of the aisle. Only Bennie Sanders in the Senate has vocally embraced the protestors, and he doesn’t even belong to a party. Even Obama, the professor of change and the salvation of the young … has remained mute. In fact there’s evidence that the federal government has provided riot gear and tactical support to local police battling the “occupiers.” But does that surprise anyone? Obama received more money from the financial sector in 2008 than any other candidate, plus he’s surrounded himself with a posse of Goldman Sachs deputies. (Now I don’t dislike our president – I just have issues with a some of his contradictory positions.)
Now you may call me pessimistic … but I’m not seeing how these protests and encampments is movement the movement where it has to go. We’re also entering into the cold of winter – making the situation even more inhospitable. Unless the great 99% jumps on board, and in a big way, the establishment money is going squash this desperately needed movement. I’m not saying this will be the only opportunity to make change, but it’s going to be a whole lot harder next time – when the adversarial ivory tower types are even more prepared and entrenched.
My solution … stop occupying! Yes stop occupying, well stop physically occupying. Fight with the resources you have. Don’t fight the “ivory tower” on their terms, in their game. They own the police, they own the government. So physical occupation is not going to be effective unless the entire country rebels. That’s unlikely since there are too many that are either uninformed (or get their message from the simplistic, big money controlled national news outlets) – or apathetic, resigned with their plight in life.
But that doesn’t mean we stop the Occupy Movement. On the contrary … we fight harder and smarter!
First, we fight with our money. You don’t like big banks … don’t bank with them. It may be inconvenient – get over it! Spend a couple of dollars more and buy on Main Street rather than at the Wal-Marts, Targets and Home Depots. Not only do you weaken the 1%, you strengthen the 99% – your own community. Also, 45% of a dollar spent at a locally owned business stays local – while only 15% of that same dollar does when you spend it at a big box store. Think about that next time you whine about weedy parks, nonexistent snow removal and your local hangout being out of business. And on the plus, nobody is going to outright fight a “buy local” message. Even American Express used it for their Saturday Buy Local campaign after Thanksgiving this year – and they’re as 1% as it gets.
Second, mobilize support using the medium we know best … social media. Facebook, Twitter and the bloggers in the Middle East played a significant role in what a year ago seemed impossible. And we don’t need to really overthrow anything – just work around the fringes to create a better country and a better world. Social media also allows for a more discreet approach, an approach that might be more palatable for the less rebellious types. Can you say the main stream union members – nurses, teachers, etc?
And third, if we’re going to play in the political arena, play on our home field. In other words, participate in the local elections – the mayor, the county commission, the school board. The national elections get the press, but it’s at the local level changes are made that truly affect our lives. Whether it features Occupy generated candidates or just fellow community members sympathetic to the message … these are battles that can be won. Historically poor turnouts, changed by youth registration drives and inexpensive guerilla campaigns make for ideal upsets.
Again, I’m not criticizing the “occupiers.” On the contrary, I admire them and their tenacity. I’m just saying a change in tactics may be in order. We all know there’s more than enough things to complain, and even protest about. On a daily basis I want to scream from my balcony: “I’m as mad ad hell … and I’m not going to take it anymore,” like Howard Beale in Network. But maybe the adversarial “in your face” tactics aren’t doing the unity message of the Occupy Movement any justice.
We’ll never convince the hard-core 1% to move to the enlightened side … nor should we spend the time trying. All we can do is work on the 99%, and make them realize they are … us!
I can be found on Twitter at @clayforsberg