Occupy Wall Street: Some Thoughts on Perception and Focus

Occupy Phoenix prostesters demand release of those arrested

Reporters and protesters on the scene saw an estimated 40 people detained at Margaret T. Hance Park just north of downtown Phoenix. In a Sunday morning news release, Phoenix police said 45 arrests had been made for criminal trespass, a misdemeanor.

If they were arrested for violating the law then the Occupy Phoenix protesters have no right to complain about the police enforcing the law. The article clearly states, and isn’t disputed by any other reports I’ve read from Occupy Phoenix participants and supporters, that the protesters were informed of the regulation and chose to refuse to obey it. If anything all indications are that the police and protesters were cooperating nicely with one another throughout the day and early evening.

When the Occupy Wall Street protests started I had no problem with them. They did have legitimate points about the banks manipulating parts of the economy into collapse by fueling speculation on oil and commodities, as well as how these same banks profited from foreclosures and tax payer bailouts, the undue political influence that corporations have been given over the voice of the people (the Citizen’s United Supreme Court ruling), and the return of stricter oversight and regulation (such as the Glass-Steagal Act). These are among the same issues that brought so much attention and popular support to the T.E.A. Party before it was hijacked by special interests.

Unfortunately I now see OWS as being hijacked as well as they have a growing litany of complaints that are more akin to Marxist-Leninist socialist/communist dogma and anarchy than legitimate complaints. Among the demands I’ve heard/read around the news and internet (some good, some bad):

  1. Free college education.
  2. Forgiveness of all student loans.
  3. Forgiveness of all mortgages.
  4. Protect unions
  5. Stop outsourcing
  6. End the War on Drugs
  7. Education reform
  8. End capital punishment
  9. Equal pay
  10. REX 84 repeal
  11. Re0investigate the 9-11 attacks
  12. Ending American Imperialism

Now these are all well and good, whether you agree with them or not, but many of the demands now have little to nothing to do with the direct complaint that the leaders of the financial industry were not held to account for their industries actions, not were the regulatory commissions and the government officials (elected and bureaucratic) that created the conditions that led to the collapse of the U.S. economy. Worse, OWS is targeting the wrong crowd: the bankers rather than the politicans in Washington D.C. Another major flaw to some of the demands are when the issues are self-inflicted such as personal debt due to individuals choosing to spend beyond their means by choosing to have credit cards, student loans, and mortgages. In those cases, sympathy for their cause is lost by generations of Americans who’ve taken responsibility for their debt and worked through it regardless of whether financial times were booming or, as now, a bust.

Worse, when you add in their top speakers at the assorted rallies are avowed anti-capitalist, communists, socialists, and anarchists it makes it neigh impossible for the common American citizen to feel any connection with them. Then comes the perceived hostile environment of the OWS protesters towards the media, the wealthy, or anyone else they view as the “enemy” (usually anyone who questions their intent). Add to it those extremists amongst OWS who seem to be trying to incite violent clashes and disrupt the general public and you’ve a recipe for failure.

If OWS wishes to get the support of the people they need to focus their message back on issues that the average American is concerned about instead of the demands that are perceived as either socialist/communist dogma or whining by liberal elitists upset over the rejection of their agenda by the public. Do as the T.E.A. Party did before it was corrupted by the right wing elements of the nation. OWS protesters needs to reject the extremists among them, the general hostility they have towards anyone not deemed “one of them”, and the radicalization; focus back on issues all Americans can agree on: the lack of oversight by the government, the corruption of the political and financial system and the ways to correct these problems.

Engendering class, social, economic, and ideological warfare will not win the day, only inclusion, respect, genuine dialogue and genuine cooperation will result in success. Look to grow and build, not redistribute and destroy.

So, those are just some of my rambling thoughts on Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Phoenix. Take them for what you will.

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