One of the biggest nationwide news stories of the past couple of weeks have been the Occupy Wall Street movement. For those who are unfamiliar, it’s an ongoing nonviolent demonstration involving thousands of people (mostly young) opposing negative corporate influence over U.S. politics and a lack of legal repercussions over the global financial crisis.
According to an entry from Wikipedia, the aim of the demonstration is to begin a sustained occupation of Wall Street, the financial district of New York City, to draw attention to Wall Street’s apparent misdeeds and call for structural economic reforms. Organizers intend for the occupation to last “as long as it takes to meet our demands.”
For anyone who follows politics with a sense of neutrality, it’s no secret that many members of our Congress and other policymakers are directly sponsored by corporations. Corporations put thousands, if not millions, of dollars into the pockets of those in Washington who will ensure they can continue to run things the way they see fit. This results in keeping things at the status quo and supporting the richest 1 percent of U.S. citizens, effectively leaving the remianing 99 percent working-class population out in the cold.
This protest has been notable for many reasons. Perhaps the most important fact about these mass demonstrations was that they barely received any notable media coverage during their first few days. Current TV’s show, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, was the first cable news broadcast to bring serious attention to the issue. The New York Times didn’t even jump on the story as quickly as it should’ve, especially when you consider it was happening in their own backyard. Now multiple news outlets are regularly covering it. Well known public figures as rapper Lupe Fiasco, Princeton lecturer Cornell West, actress Susan Sarandon, and comedian Roseanne Barr have openly showed their support for the movement.
Now that OWS has the attention they desired so much, the question now is what’s next?
There has been some criticism towards the group for lacking a clearly specified demand for reform.
On its website, OWS describes itself as a “leaderless resistance movement” drawn from people of all backgrounds and political persuasions. “The one thing we all have in common is that we are the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent,” the website says.
Yet, the posters of the protesters speak to the lack of a narrow platform: “End financial aid to Israel”; “End greed, end poverty, end war”; “No death penalty”; “Tired of racism.”
Many supporters of the movement wish to see more narrowly defined demands and tangible goals. After all, no great revolution in American history ever got anything accomplished without having a strongly defined vision.
Regardless of where this movement goes, it has become apparent that citizens of this country are more inclined than ever to take matters into their own hands. And who could blame them. Our political leaders on both sides of the fence have repeatedly let us down. Sure, a lot of this economic fallout was the result of the Bush era of policy, but very little has been done under the Obama administration to curb these problems.
At the end of the day millions of Americans are still unemployed and feel as though the only people benefiting from the “American Dream” are the ones with their pockets full and making the regulations which cripple the middle class. This movement is the result of a generation of people who classify themselves as “over educated and under employed.” And they aren’t going to sit and wait for their change to come.
Material from the Seattle Times was included in this post