by Keith Beasley
As the Occupy Wall Street movement recently celebrated its two month anniversary with coordinated protests across the nation, most of the country apparently watched with indifference, according to a recent USA Today/Gallup Poll. Relatively unchanged from a similar poll taken a month ago, it was found that 56% of Americans neither support nor oppose the goals of OWS, with 59% of respondents saying they have no opinion at all. Given that we’ve witnessed an escalation of frustration between all sides, the occupiers, law enforcement personnel, elected officials, and civilians just trying to go about their everyday business, it would appear as if OWS is exacting an unnecessarily high physical and social toll with little results to justify it.
Yet, what can not be lost in the civil disobedience of OWS, is the competing vision put forth for the future of America that juxtaposes that of the Tea Party. Since the 2010 elections when the Republican Party resumed control over the house of representatives with a flood of Tea Party fervor and its candidates winning many seats, we can now examine their vision by reviewing their legislative agenda over the past year. Meanwhile, the OWS energy has yet to be converted into an actionable political strategy that would likewise alter election outcomes and represent a policy agenda. Which may explain why so many Americans who would benefit from the demands of OWS are noncommittal, they don’t know what they’re committing to (see http://occupywallst.org/forum/proposed-list-of-demands-for-occupy-wall-st-moveme/).
At the core of the OWS message is a call for justice. A reasonable one, being that we’ve experienced a period of growing income inequality that has widened class divisions in most segments of our society. As a result, OWS is an expression of economic insecurity felt by many, but like most people affected by the economic crisis of 2008 and its aftermath, it has trouble articulating the causes and its solutions. It’s that gnawing sensation you get when you leave the house knowing you forgot something but not quite sure what it is, and where it is, only to get three quarters of the way to your destination and suddenly it hits you, but by then you’re too far to turn back. OWS is a group of concerned citizens exercising their constitutional right to protest in an attempt to remind the nation that we’ve forgot something and we need to turn back to gather what’s missing before it’s too late. What’s missing? Justice!
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