I’ve had a lot of people ask me why I keep mocking the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Look, I believe in the act of demonstrating. Protesting and speaking your mind is an iconically American thing to do. In fact, grassroots movements have been critical to our nation’s history. The abolitionist movement helped us end the abominable practice of enslaving fellow human beings. The suffrage movement finally forced our government to recognize that women should have a right to vote. The civil rights movement worked to eliminate the embarrassing institutional practice of segregation.
Sometimes, when government fails, the people have an obligation to rise up and right our nation’s wrongs.
As far as I’m concerned, Occupy Wall Street is not on the level of these great movements. It has no clear purpose.
We will look back in history and see that the Tea Party had a real impact on our country. Why? Because they had clear goals and clear demands. They protested for lower taxes and balanced budgets, and those demands were something that the majority of Americans could get behind. The result was an historic 2010 election that swept the Republicans into control of the House of Representatives.
So what’s the purpose of #OWS besides the obvious — ensuring that hashtags have finally jumped the shark?
I think the movement has SOME legitimate concerns. For example, I completely agree with ending crony capitalism. So does the Tea Party, by the way. I oppose bailing out major corporations just because they have connections with those in power. But here’s the thing: it’s in those corporations’ rational self-interest to create those connections and benefit from them. The problem is not the corporations. The problem is that we have far too many career politicians willing to sell out their constituents by giving these corporations favors and loopholes so they can personally benefit.
Crony capitalism is the fault of poor government, not the free market.
If that was the one focus of #OWS, then sure, I’d be supportive. But if there were a classroom full of grassroots movements, #OWS would be the kid with ADD. Its demands are all over the place, and it has absolutely no focus.
Some protesters are demanding that their expensive private college tuition be paid for up front. Others are calling for a $20/hour living wage for people who aren’t even working. I even read one article about a protester demanding that currency be eliminated in favor of the bartering system.
Call me cynical, but I think there’s a reason #OWS has no clear focus. #OWS is trying to be all things to all people so it can grow and expand to deliver its real demand: ending capitalism.
I can assure you that eliminating the free market is not something the 99% want.
I’m going to keep watching the movement to see how it grows and defines itself. But I’ve got a pretty good idea of where it’s going, and that’s an ugly place that most Americans will not want to tread.