Thursday, October 6, 2011. Because I had singled out the Portland, Oregon group for an unfortunate quote from one person regarding the need to "disrupt" the city, I made a point of following their march. CNN set up a live feed (sans audio) of video from a helicopter that gave an intriguing perspective of the number of participants. My first reaction was, "This is impressive".
In the previous 24 hours, the Mayor and the Chief of Police in Portland made very reasonable strategy decisions. They affirmed the right of citizens to demonstrate and air their grievances. They implored the group to follow the permitting process, but allowed a far less stringent process due to the essentially "leaderless" quality of the Occupy movement. In doing so, they received a map of the march route and a predetermined occupation area. There was cooperation.
The march went very well. Only two arrests were reported and the participation was measured at roughly 10,000. It has been identified as the largest occupation outside of Manhattan. As I watched the coverage and read various live-blogs I suddenly realized I am no longer sitting on the fence, I'm actively engaged and I'm in full support. Just today, the Occupy group negotiated a "co-occupance" of Chapman Square. There is a Marathon this weekend that had a long-standing permit (those pesky permits), but an agreement was reached with the marathoners.
Now that I'm engaged and expressing support, I have a suggestion about the "politics". I view the movement as an opportunity to express grievances and solutions without any ideological reference point or filter. In a sense, I would like to see the movement be essentially apolitical with regard to our two party system. No "third party" or new "party", just a movement that expresses the desires of the majority, the minority and the individual with a common sense approach. No fancy intellectual terms, just common language. There's an old saying, "keep it simple, stupid" and that might be a good by-law. Of course, the hope would be that the political bodies would take notice and try to appeal to the 99%, rather than the 99% trying to appeal to the political bodies. There is leverage in a movement that draws 10,000 citizens on a weeknight, assume the leverage.
It could very well be in effect right now, but I'm suggesting it be made known that ideology shouldn't command the debate, the discourse or the discussion. Maintain the movement as a "partisan-free zone". While individuals would be expected to participate in the elections as they choose, they wouldn't feel any pressure to vote for a certain candidate or party. Endorsing any candidates as a body would be the end of the movement, in my opinion. At that point, it becomes a special interest group, a political party or a "wing" of a political party, in my opinion. Even a candidate that emerges from within the movement should be exempted from any "endorsement" as a body. But at the individual level? By all means, express support and even contribute. The Occupy movement, to me is about Society and Justice. It's about shaping politics and government through freedom of expression and thought. Leave the ideology at the Waterfront.
To be continued...