Much has been made of the efforts to co-opt what I choose to call the Occupation Movement. (For background on this subject, Ruth Fowler’s article “Screw the Piggybackers” is a must-read):
I wrote the following on October 6, just a few days into this event/protest/media circus, and for those who have discovered this site since then, take a moment for a refresher course in what has occurred since:
The shameless “piggybacking” isn’t fooling anyone, especially the members of those organizations who know that they had nothing to do with the inertia the Occupation Movement now enjoys. I suspect their members also know that transparent efforts to establish some faux affiliation with the Occupy Wall Street protesters does not reflect well on them, especially when they use the name to solicit donations.
The reason I draw attention to these posts is because I’m not sure whether the Movement can be co-opted any longer.
By way of example, let’s evaluate the position of the President, Mr. Obama. Here’s his most recent statement in an interview with Jay Leno last night:
“Look, people are frustrated. And that frustration expresses itself in a lot of different ways. It expressed itself in the Tea Party, it's expressing itself in Occupy Wall Street ... Everybody needs to understand that the American people feel that no one is looking out for them right now.”
You’re absolutely right, Mr. President. No one is looking out for them, and they have plenty of evidence to prove that no one was looking out for them in September 2008, nor have they seen other indications or much concern prior or since. I’m sure the President chose his word carefully, especially when you consider that the Occupation Movement has made the effort to dissociate itself from the two established, dominant political parties. But the President has the ability to co-opt the movement as much as anyone else any time he wants to. All he has to do is become a member and show up at a General Assembly.
Realistically, because of the gravitas of his office, the President can validate his concern for this “frustration” by taking an active role in producing legislation that will correct some of the more glaring examples of inequality in America. Mr. President, how are people supposed to react when they know that the richest people pay little if any taxes because of an “abomination” of a tax code that allow for it? How are people supposed to feel when they are expected to finance the debacles of irresponsible Wall Street firms who never seem to be held accountable for what many see as criminal misconduct? How are people supposed to react when they know legislators have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo of corporate interests taking priority over their own? What are they supposed to do when become politically irrelevant in the eyes of their elected leaders?
This movement defies definition because the organizational structure is a work in progress, but the articulation is passionate, substantial, constructive and constant. This, in my opinion, is what was missing prior to the Occupation Movement gaining traction after September 17, 2011. It has become obvious that the People have to provide their own oversight of both corporate and government interests which are not always consistent with those of the People who, theoretically at least, hold the power to do great things and to determine their own fate and destiny.
So now they have stepped up to make their voices heard. Now they are saying, “We will provide the changes and oversight necessary to re-establish a new self-governance, direct democracy, which was somehow lost along the way. We will challenge our elected officials and corporate leadership to prove that they are working for the interests of their constituent, rather that the people who pay their maintenance costs (election, re-election, perks, benefits and favors).”
So, Mr. Obama, consider yourself invited to this rather bizarre conglomeration of folks who share fundamental values regarding self-governance. Many of these people voted for you in the last election. Many others have given up hope that their vote will make difference. But all of them look to you for leadership because you are the President. Make a proposal. Ask for consensus. You can’t co-opt this movement, but you can make it your own by simply joining it.