|Occupy protesters in support of a noble but ambiguous goal. |
Instead of spurring meaningful political and economic dialogue, the two biggest elements of the movement currently garnering national interest and media attention are (1) the handful of Occupy outlaws who have inserted themselves into the Oakland arm of the movement, and (2) the movement's inability to develop overriding objectives and to broaden its base of support.
Slate contributor (and former NY Governor) Eliot Spitzer has stepped up to offer some much-needed structural and tactical advice in the form of eight specific ideas that would advance the Occupy Movement beyond the encampments. The movement has no identified central leadership and Spitzer likely lacks the street cred (or maybe has too much government cred) to take the job, but the folks who are organizing OWS would be well-served to heed Spitzer's suggestions. The movement needs more substance.
The usefulness of the encampments is fast waning. Don't misunderstand - I believe the encampments have been essential to the OWS movement. Without this most motivated element of the 99%, there would be no Occupy Movement. But encampments are to the OWS movement what gay pride parades are to the LGBT rights movement - loud and proud LGBT citizens celebrating in the streets push LGBT issues into the public arena and on to the evening news, but you aren't likely to see anyone in ass-less chaps and a fishnet tank top lobbying Congress or co-writing legislation in state houses across the nation.
Occupy encampments have significantly heightened national awareness around the wealth distribution disparity in the United States, and more importantly, around the corrupt system that has allowed the income gap to grow progressively more unequal. The overriding theme of the Occupy movement, as I understand it, is really as simple as this...
Most of us don't mind that "someone" is winning, but we do mind that the winners are the same people who constantly revise the rules of the game to their own advantage.
Occupy encampments have launched a movement, and spawned important dialogue around this idea. It's time now for leaders, infrastructure, and organization to emerge so that this simple idea transitions into specific plans and actions that bring about meaningful reform, and so that the original encampment protesters are seen through the prism of history as social justice pioneers and not simply as a sideshow.