You know how first they laugh at you, then they try to kill you, then you win? Occupy Wall Street has moved past getting laughed at and is now under attack. Today’s Politico Arena question asked whether OWS has accomplished anything, taking off from a slam by Rep. Peter King (R of course-NY) who charged the movement is “disorganized.” Below is my response to Arena. Enjoy it while playing this video performance art, and do let me know your thoughts:
ARENA ASKS: In a recent interview with Bloomberg Television, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.) had tough criticism for the Occupy Wall Street movement. “I mean, what is their position?” King asked. “They’re mad that other people are making money? They’re mad that there are no jobs in this country? Or not enough jobs? All of us believe that. We’re trying to find a way to do it. You don’t do it by living in dirt. You don’t do it by carrying out rapes. You don’t do it by carrying out anti-American slogans.”
Is King right – is the movement disorganized? And has the Occupy Wall Street movement accomplished anything?
MY RESPONSE: There are moments when leaders fail us and so the people rise up. Enter Occupy Wall Street.
OWS’s main accomplishment is rising up to show leadership in a nation whose duly elected leaders can’t or won’t.
Why do I credit a supposedly leaderless, agendaless group with leading?
First because I believe a leader is someone who gets things done. And second, with Thanksgiving soon upon us, because I am grateful to Occupy Wall Street for “doing something” in the following ways that lead the public debate forward:
1. Giving voice to those who have been unheard, thus pumping energy into the deflated hopes for change that Barack Obama’s presidential campaign promised but didn’t deliver. A stagnant economy, with many people out of jobs with time on their hands, could have spiraled down into personal depression as well as economic recession. Taking action is the best remedy.
2. Demonstrating the American ideal of social justice still has a pulse. That we can still muster a cross-section of people, young and old, rich and poor, from all ethnicities to get out on the streets and “wear the shirt” of their convictions–one of my favorite metaphors, as those who have read my book No Excuses know.
3. Courageously laying bare the root of our economic problems: the rapacious greed of the 1 percent who control most of the wealth and contrasting that with the other 99 percent’s justifiable aspirations to earn their way to food, shelter, healthcare, and a shot at the American dream. In the process, OWS has revealed how the Republican/Tea Party agenda is fueled by greed and lust for absolute power. They don’t just want their share, they want to control it all and give back nothing to society or even to the people who do the work. Nor do they want the government to work for the people.
That said, and with all due gratitude to the visibility OWS has given to the problems, it is time for them to set forth a specific agenda of solutions and coalesce its rag tag self, or selves, to push for fundamental, systemic change.
Peter King is right that Occupy Wall Street is disorganized. That’s the nature of a social movement, especially a new one. The revolutionaries who declared and fought for American independence were none too organized at the beginning either. Instead of blasting OWS, Mr. King should apply his leadership to create jobs, to feed the hungry, to lead our country back to prosperity for all.
Here’s my original post on Politico Arena, in case you want to read it there and see what others are saying. What do you think about OWS?