Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Occupy My Imagination - Fail

   Today was a big day for #OWS, the Occupy Wall Street "movement". Roughly ten thousand protestors, demonstrators and yes, agitators (don't deny it) descended upon Manhattan with the addition of Union support. MSNBC and other media decided to give a closer look and do their best to interpret the "message", but the bottom line for OWS was an opportunity to get the nation's attention. After watching the Ed Schultz show, I was left with a nagging feeling of disappointment.
   While I'm generally supportive of the collective endeavor to raise awareness of the level of pain, suffering, anxiety and anger regarding the widening disparity in income and wealth distribution, I'm not actively supportive. The primary reason? The failure to recognize that voting for candidates that share your values or express a willingness to advocate for your cause is essential to democracy. Also, the complete disregard for one of the most basic problems leading to this crisis in corruption, abysmally low voter participation.
   Ed Schultz took his show to the streets and at the very end allowed a fairly well-spoken individual to explain why he was there. He finished by saying that "consensus" is the answer and that elected government is just "there". I understand the idealism, just as I understand the libertarian ideal. The likelihood that I would actively support either ideology is the same, zero percent chance. But there was another development that concerns me even more.
   Let me say right now that I don't expect #OWS to be overly concerned that I "approve" of the underlying goals or behavior in general. I'm only offering my observation and opinion as constructive criticism. As I was looking at various occupy websites, I came across this article . The Portland group has decided to ignore getting permits in a misguided effort to more thoroughly "disrupt" the city. This will inevitably lead to some confrontations, some mace and flailing arms with mouths screaming "Who are you protecting?!". To which the answer is quite simple, they are protecting the rights of citizens that kindly request that you get a permit and not DISRUPT their daily activities. The permit is basically a communication to the police that lets them know the areas of demonstration, the path of any march and a guess as to the size of the crowd. This gives the police the opportunity to minimize the disruption to all of the other citizens through notifications and signage. It's also a function of our democracy.
   The article raises concerns regarding police "brutality" and the events leading to it. It suggests that a goal of some of the protesters is to create friction with the police. Instead of creating a valuable alliance with members of the 99% that are employed as public servants and "Peace Officers", the focus seems to be alienation. Making the police part of "them" and "the others". Making them an easy and highly visible target of misdirected anger. Am I saying this would be happening 100% of the time? Absolutely not. But it's a perspective that I guarantee the Tea Party and the Republicans will exploit. Worse, it's a perspective that the majority of the 99% will adopt. They will adopt it because the majority want our police force to be effective. Chaos and "consensus" aren't mainstream for a reason and it really isn't due to a lack of "educating oneself" or becoming enlightened. It's because chaos and consensus are primitive, inefficient and cumbersome. It is because there are viable alternatives, including our present form of government. The real issue is the money that leads to corruption. Stick to the basics. Avoid the manipulative strategy and the temptation to wallow in playing the victim to garner sympathy support.
   Although I'm not an active participant, that doesn't mean I'm "against" the movement. Nor does it mean that I won't become active in the future. I'm literally "on the fence". But I can say with confidence that if the true goal at the core of OWS is to radically alter the "system" toward a consensus, that will be a tough sell to the 99%.

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