‘Occupy’ movement fading out in a whimper
Perhaps it is the specific media coverage of the issue, but it does appear that the ‘Occupy’ movement is indeed fading away. All mass movements must fade away eventually, but sometimes they leave a noticeable impact on the world. I am not sure the ‘Occupy’ movement is leaving behind a specific impact. Certainly we heard their cries and their shouts. Many people, myself included agreed with the very essence of the message, which was that ‘have nots’ of the world are tired and frustrated with the treatment being metted out to them by those with the power and money. Their message of equality and social justice I am certain would resonate with the vast majority of people.
However, their approach appears to be ineffective. It is their approach to the process that I feel will prevent the movement from having a lasting impact. An editorial in the USAToday, made just such an argument.
Tea Partiers, the conservative counterparts to the Occupiers, effectively used protests to establish themselves. This, plus a carefully crafted news media campaign, an explicit set of objectives and voter turnout drives, helped bring about conservative gains in the 2010 elections.
That is a useful model for the Occupiers. If their goal is to promote public policies that will lessen income inequality and punish bank misbehavior, the way to do it is to bring pressure where it matters most — at the ballot box.
That approach has been successfully deployed by liberal activists in Midwestern states angered by the work of Republican governors and legislatures. In Ohio, for instance, voters overturned a controversial law restricting collective bargaining for labor unions.
The demographics of the Occupy movement skew young. And young people have an abysmal track record of voting. Even in 2008, when the youth vote surged, it lagged the overall turnout. Then, in 2010, it fell off again, with just 21% of eligible voters ages 18 to 24 showing up, compared with more than 60% for voters 65 and older. That helps explain why Congress caters to seniors, as well as the wealthy interests that underwrite campaigns.
If the Occupiers want to do something useful, they should recruit candidates, get supporters to the polls and forget about the urban camping.
The authors point is well received by me and I think the Occupy movement may want to take up this line activism. However, it is indeed possible that I am biased towards a strategy of activism and protestation that has been known to work in the past. It is indeed very possible that the Occupy movement has introduced the world to a very different way of obtaining change in the attitudes of people. Only the hindsight afforded by posterity, will inform as to whether the ‘Occupy’ movement was able to achieve anything significant. We wait and see.