The Occupy Wall Street movement, now more of an international Occupy X movement, has been one of the most controversial and hottest topics of the last year.
This grass-roots movement has been both derided and cheered by many Americans and by citizens of countries worldwide.
It would be difficult to find someone who could define the long-term plans and goals of the movement.
The spontaneous, diffuse and passionate atmosphere of Occupy Wall Street has been both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. The movement has garnered much media attention, but has ultimately done little in moving forward. This begs the question; has this movement been a success or a failure? In short, the answer is both.
The protesters of the movement have called for drastic political and economic changes. These range from economic issues such taxes that regulate the income discrepancy, ending private campaign financing, and the two party system while increasing government transparency.
These concerns are both valid and relevant to many Americans, many of whom have been frustrated with these governmental and economic aspects for some time. The fact that these concerns are being voiced in a way that has attracted the massive media attention that it has is the epitome of effectively expressing the values of the First Amendment.
Despite the massive attention and support this movement has gained, it has yet to achieve a focused and practical plan toward the widespread change it calls for.
This lack of organization and focus can ironically be best seen in Occupy Wall Street’s attempt at organizational and political focus.
A rough list of demands was released by occupywallstreet.org some months ago.
As of yet, the list of demands has been less than lackluster in alleviating these concerns. The demands call for trading tariffs so that domestic “mom and pop” stores and farming may be more competitively active in the economy while at the same time mandating free college education on top of trillions of dollars of spending in various ecological and infrastructure projects.
A better educational system is of the utmost importance, and the increased employment that the New Deal-inspired infrastructure push would achieve would do much for the job market. However, many of these would be more detrimental than helpful, especially in the sense that we can ill-afford more trillion-dollar plus spending in our present state of horrendous debt and deficit.
This is not to say that a number of these demands do not have substantial merit, but in any movement for social or political change, restraint is required.
This can be best achieved with at least some form of centralized or recognized leadership.
While many would say that creating any form of leadership would be a bastardization of the very values that the movement stands for, compromises have to be made in the face of reality.
Occupy Wall Street in many ways embodies the dissatisfaction and frustration that many Americans feel toward both the government and the economy, especially big business’ abuse of Capitalism and the rampant partisanship in government which has ground many reforms to a halt in Congress.
It is composed of citizens from all walks of life and has just as many agendas as it does varied individuals.
It is the single greatest exercise of democratic rights in the recent history of the United States.
But the movement needs to gain direction and achieve common ground to best bring about change.
Nick Kintop/Staff writer
Nick Kintop can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org