Analysis: What I learned in Occupied Chicago

To be fair, demonstrators are usually some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. Having witnessed anti-war marches, Tea Party rallies, and now the OWS movement I can say that on each occasion the people I spoke with were happy to talk and seemed like decent people.

That being said, what I witnessed was not the coming revolution predicted by the crowds on Wall Street or the media. But that doesn’t mean they’re not trying. The Democratic establishment is doing their best to latch on to the decidedly anti-establishment movement and from Paul Krugman’s column you would have never guessed he was once an Enron adviser.  But what I saw on the streets of Chicago was not a nascent political earthquake but rather standard fare for a left-wing protest. Besides from the Ron Paulites and a few first timers you had the typical mix of anti-war, socialist, and anti-business demonstrators who decided it was as good a time as any to rally against the system.

Some have called OWS the left’s own Tea Party, yet the Tea Party has three things that as of now OWS does not: a grassroots yet organized start, clearly defined opponents and goals, and the appearance of support from those who typically are not active in politics. OWS is no doubt a grassroots movement, but unlike the Tea Party nobody is successfully organizing it into a cohesive political force. The Tea Party has multiple organizations and each of these have chapters across the country yet for now OWS appears to be a mob of hippies and college students. Secondly, the Tea Party knows what it is for and what it is against. Besides a general anger towards the wealthy OWS has no demands that can be met nor a precise goal for their movment. Finally at the Tea Party rally that I witnessed, I saw that for every nut wearing a tri-corner hat and tea bags on his ears there a dozen normal looking people out there getting politically active for the first time. At OWS it seems that many of the protesters have been doing this for years and that they have attracted few newcomers to their ranks.

If OWS is going to go beyond what it is right now, it must organize, define itself, and bring in new people. Just being angry is not enough.

To wrap up, I’m going to quote Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast:

“I want to stipulate up front that I am firmly on OWS’s side. I don’t really know who its leaders are, and I don’t especially care. I don’t know its exact goals—a subject on which the movement has been roundly, and in my view pointlessly, criticized. But it is desperately needed. It needs to succeed.”  (The emphasis is mine)

As a famous Jedi Master once said, “that is why you fail.

Posted By Max Viscio

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