Monday, February 20, 2012

Occupy Movement must dump camps for mission and strategy

If you look at the latest stamina of President Obama’s rhetoric on issues you would have to agree that it is far more forceful than a year ago.  And it was just a little more than a year ago that the Occupy Movement started; Occupy Wall Street held its first demonstration on September 17, 2011.  At that time the Tea Party was going full blast and deciding much of what was going on in Congress. 

TPers still have their influence but it is waning, evidenced by recent GOP conciliations on the payroll tax cut.

Arlen Grossman, writing in OpEdNews, talks of how the President was willing to make all kinds of deals with the GOP on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the taxing of the rich back in early to mid-2011.  And then the Occupy Movement began to do their number in September and the American public suddenly realized there were several inequities in the system that needed to be fixed. 

It all centered around the 1% that controlled all the wealth, leaving the other 99% to fend for itself in an arena that was clearly weighted toward the 1%.

“Issues of class and economic fairness that had been swept under the rug for years suddenly became issues for discussion. Middle class Americans began to understand that corporations and the wealthy were paying a lower tax rate than they were,” says Grossman.  And Barack Obama became “bolder,” more resolute in where he stood on the issues he had had to appease Republicans on just a year ago.

Grossman adds: “I can't help but think that the Occupy movement has played a major role in reversing the focus of politics from last fall until now. If Occupy disappeared right now, they could get credit for accomplishing quite a bit in a short time.”

The New York Times says that although the Occupy camps are dismantling, it is “far from dissipating.”  They are only regrouping for the next thrust which will include larger marches and strikes coming up in the spring, designed to rebuild momentum, returning to the issues of inequality and corporate greed.  New York City is still the center of the movement but expansion nationwide, even worldwide, has proved the dedication of those involved.

William A. Galston, a senior fellow and an expert on political strategy at the Brookings Institution in Washington said, “They’ve gotten the people’s attention, and now they have to say something more specific.  Average Americans want solutions, not demonstrations, and their patience for the latter won’t last indefinitely.”  Demonstrators have been hearing this for months, but like any new movement, they had to wear through the emotionalism first.

An editorial from USA Today says the Occupy Movement is “…fading out in a whimper.”  The paper also says the movement hit a rich vein of dissent with Wall Street, “But after successfully tapping into this vein, the Occupiers chose a course best described as doing nothing.”  They may have a point that the demonstrators put too much stock in their physical presence in an encampment, but others might counter that they were simply taking time to reorganize.

Pew Research Report

One thing is very clear.  “Occupy must include minorities.” is an article from the Pasadena Sun that comments on the economic regression of the middle-class in America.  It goes on to say, “According to a 2011 Pew Center report, the median wealth of Hispanic households dropped by 66% between 2005 and 2009. That is a larger drop than experienced by black households, 53%, and far worse than the 16% experienced by whites.” 

In other words, who is more likely to be affected by the Occupy Movement that blacks and Hispanics?

The piece made another excellent point that in good times the U.S. favors immigration because of the work force available to do a number of jobs.  But in bad times immigrants are “scapegoats,” evidenced by the anti-immigration law SB-1070 enacted by Arizona.  With the surge in the Latino population, and in particular their recent enterprise toward activism, this should be one of Occupy’s top priorities.

The unemployment rate for black Americans is at 15 percent, compared to around 8 percent for whites.  But the majority of the movement is white as reported by A Fast Company survey recently that found that African Americans, who are 12.6 percent of the U.S. population, make up only 1.6 percent of
Occupy Wall Street
.  The Washington Post also said, “We can’t expect our civil rights organizations and political leaders to help blacks rage against the corporate machine when they are part of it.”

There is no other group of Americans more entrenched in activism for their rights than blacks and it will be a tragedy if they are not encouraged to fight for them alongside the Occupy Movement.

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