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Don Roach: What Happened to the Occupy Movement?

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

 

In the fall of 2011, some folks took up residence in a New York park claiming to represent 99 percent of Americans expressing angers towards the powers that be who allowed 1 percent of Americans to essentially trample on the rest of us. Income inequality was the number one focus of the movement but like its counterpart, the Tea Party movement, the Occupy movement was co-opted by a number of left leaning ideological elements of our society. Still, the main point of the movement centered around economic inequality. Many protestors believed that such inequalities made the movement one in which 99 percent of Americans could rally around.

Well, it’s early 2013 and the middle class, in case you missed it, has not gained an inch since the Occupy movement’s zenith in late 2011. Not only that, we reelected a president who chided his opponent for only caring about the 53 percent of Americans who aren’t too lazy to go to work. It seems like nearly everything was/is in place for the Occupy movement to succeed and yet it really hasn’t. Protesting in a park, winning a couple of lawsuits, and getting tv coverage does not a “win” make in my eyes. The Occupy Movement sought to redefine the questions around economic disparity and for a moment people may have asked interesting questions but we’re back to the grind of pre-Occupy days.

I think one of the reasons for that is that the movement couldn’t rally behind a singular leader. Indeed, it was an anarchist movement by and large with no public leaders – and that seemed to be on purpose. While I can respect the altruism in that sentiment it did not allow for the various factions within the Occupy movement to go beyond protesting Wall Street. There were no goals, no practical endgame, and the movement has become an afterthought.

I think many people could relate to being out of work and watching the rich get richer when Occupy first came on the scene. However, we’re Americans, we’re capitalists. You ask the average American if she wants to live a socialist utopia, she’ll probably laugh hysterically and ask you if you ever thought about going into comedy. Yet, the Occupiers believed they had taken hold of something that most Americans would buy into, bring down the rich in order to elevate the masses.

That was a mistake.

Most Americans don’t really care if Bill Gates made a billion, 10 billion, or a trillion dollars last year. What they do care about is if they were able to provide a good Christmas for their kids, were they able to replace that fence that’s been slowly falling down for years, and were they able to save a little more for college. Occupy tapped into those feelings but tried to belittle the rich far too much. And over time, Occupy simply became another fringe lefty movement, a historical footnote that will be interesting for the kids to read about in twenty years.

Other than that, the Occupy movement was probably a waste of time for the hundreds of people who are now visiting chiropractors having slept on the ground for a few weeks.

Was it worth it?

 

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