September 25, 2012

The Occupy Movement Can Still Beat “The Man.” ~ Lauren Walker

We’ve just wrapped up the dog days of summer and where is the Occupy movement?

I know it ended last year with ignominious results. People getting beaten, tear gassed, dispersed.

It seemed our own government, the home of the free and the world-wide self-proclaimed protector of the brave, were silencing their own people. People were prohibited from gathering by the police-invoked laws for private property and disturbing the peace.

Okay, so they squelched you. But does that mean they’ve silenced you too?

What is the reason that other grass-roots led, leaderless political organizations (the Tea Party, for example) are so successful?

They get right-wing politicians into office, who then vote as they’ve been told and continually increase their presence and power?

Is it only because they’re funded, they have Koch and casino money to help them organize and get out their word? I think it has to be more than that.

It has to be something about the organization itself.

The Occupiers gathered, built tent cities with libraries, first aid stands and hot food tables. They were organized, electrified, villages of hope. In the midst of the Great Recession, that everyone is afraid to call a “depression,” the people came and built Hoover villages full of hope. Obama villages full of hope.

But the Occupiers main problem was perhaps, after all, their democracy.

In the long run nothing got done.

The democratic principles take a long time: open for all, everyone gets an opinion, equal talking time, a voice.

Lots of waves were made, lots of attention paid, but nothing concrete to last. Just a raising of the “conversation” of income disparity in our country, and the dreamlike remembrance of people taking to the streets.

That seems to be the problem between Democrats and Republicans, of which these two grass-roots efforts are representations.

The Tea Party gets shit done.

The Occupiers are gone.

They were too open to hearing all the sides of every issue. Each word repeated over and over again, into the long hours of the night, and in the end, we’re about to lose our social safety net, the banks have gone wild, the war machinery continues to increase, tax cuts for the rich is still on the agenda, gutting the lives of the poor is still on the agenda.

All because they’re more organized.

Take a page from the Tea Party’s book and beat them at their own game.

Despite what the one percent may think, being trapped in their own gated communities—because the rest of the have-nots have become feral, gangs for vigilante justice—is just like the prison bars holding back our ridiculous percentages of incarcerated men.

So why don’t we take a page from their book? After all, there are more of us than there are them. More immigrants, low-income families, middle incomers losing their homes and jobs.

More of us living near super fund sites, stripped coal mines or wayward fracking where tap water ignites.

There are more of us who want assault weapons banned and to be able to keep our hunting and shooting rights intact.

More of us who want the leaders of the big banks indicted. All of them. Every last one.

More of us who want affordable health care, single payer health care. And our clean air and water laws upheld.

So why don’t we do what the tea baggers are doing? The old-fashioned way.

Every public library in the country has a community room that is available for use, generally free of charge. The Occupiers could start meeting there. Getting behind local candidates, trading votes for policy. All politics is local.

If the Tea Party can do it, the Occupiers can do it.

Get behind them, get them voted in with an agenda. A specific and particular agenda. 

It isn’t so hard to figure one out. That was the big negative “talking point” about the Occupiers. They just wanted to express disgust. Each of them had a different idea of how to change things, and so, they wouldn’t put together a list of demands.

If you want to win, you have to put together a list of demands. Even if it might not be the ultimate, exhaustive list. Start somewhere.

Define a core group of values and core action points that you want to be undertaken immediately. Wall Street criminals, in jail. Single-payer health care. Clean the tax code, close the loopholes, get rid of the tax cuts for the uber wealthy. Put our country back to work with a CCC-inspired program, fix our bridges, roads, airports, schools, clean up the Superfund sites.

It’s a good place to start.

The work needs to get finished.

I’m writing this to you, Occupiers. But it’s also clear that we need to go beyond that now. I can’t afford to take off and go live in Central Square. That isn’t needed of everyone. That was the inspiration.

We can organize, vote in and change our whole slate of an agenda without giving up the lives we have now. Everyone that supports the ideas and possibilities of Occupy doesn’t need to leave their lives and go camp out. But the support is there, and needs to get tapped into.

It could to be like that. Everyone involved.

We can’t not participate because it takes too much time, or it’s too much of a headache. It’s gotta be able to be as easy as Facebook. Put up your profile. How will you vote? Let the “likes” advance until we get a winner. I mean, we got Betty White on Saturday Night Live. We don’t need to make this so complicated.

We need to be engaged and involved in our political system, and it can function excellently, like the founding fathers planned. Reboot the system to be what it was supposed to be. A system of organization, distribution and protection.

So there it is. I’m ready to Occupy. We don’t need a lot of money. We don’t need to sleep in the square. We just need to get together, make some plans, get some votes and then go on and live the American Dream.

As Churchill said, “America will invariably do the right thing, after having exhausted every other possibility.”

Let’s just do it now and save the energy!



 Lauren K. Walker runs the yoga program at Norwich University. Her article about teaching yoga there to military cadets was featured in The New York Times in April. You can find more of her work here.



Editor: ShaMecha Simms


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