I’ve heard a lot of people question the ambiguity of the Occupy Wall Street movement. I’ve also seen people blindly throw their faith behind the occupations as though the physical acquisition of these public spaces was somehow going to translate to change. I’d like to take another position, a compromise of sorts.
Occupation is necessary tactic. The protestors marching all throughout the country are doing this nation a service by illuminating the parasitic infection of corporate influence on our government. However, occupation is not a means by itself. It can’t be. There are no universally backed solutions; there is little dialogue between protestors and the people that can affect the change they demand.
The real benefit of the Occupy movement is the freedom of discourse that has now entered the American conversation. Occupy Wall Street was the culmination of many years of frustration, but it’s not the first time these problems have been identified. No, the Occupy movement is the realization that others see the problems too.
For the first time ever, the anarchist is talking to the anti-Fed guy; the soccer mom with three kids is talking to the college student inspired by Malcolm X. There is a revolution of conversation occurring, and the people who always felt there was something wrong with the system are now coming together and talking about it.
And that is huge.
People are meeting other like-minded individuals. They are making connections, planning marches and organizing rallies. There are teach-ins and fundraisers. This occupation is a training ground for the ideological and political battle that will soon take place.
Next year is a big one for elections. The elected officials who have continually proven to be unworthy of this nation’s trust will be in the hot seat. The Occupy movement must rally together and get organized. Those who wish to see a change in the way this country works have found each other. They’ve practiced organizing events for the past few weeks; it will be time to utilize those connections, harness those ideas, and force these political puppets to take a platform that the people want.
The problems that the occupations have identified: corporate greed, corruption in government, inadequate tax policies, rising costs of education — these are not things that can be simply fixed by demanding a change overnight. These are systemic problems that require a lot of hard work and innovative ideas to fix. And the occupation is the perfect place to find those people motivated enough to fix it. As the weather gets colder, and physical occupation loses its luster, the minds of these protestors must still be occupied. They must group together in the most efficient way, tackling problems that they specialize in. They must offer concrete solutions, and refuse to vote in politicians who don’t take their platform. If necessary, they may take to the streets to emphasize their point.
The occupations have given us a chance to actually participate in our country. Let us use this chance wisely.