Occupy Week, Part III: The Message

Part I: The People
Part II: The Camp

Some people fault the Occupy movement for not having a clear message. Some people that I talked to this weekend were genuinely frustrated with the Occupiers because they didn’t have talking points they could just spout out. In a conversation I was part of with a lady who stopped us on the sidewalk, I offered my reasons why I was at the Occupy St. Louis protest, which were different from the other two points of view. Granted, it would be a little confusing to hear three different points of view when you view the movement as one huge entity rather than a movement filled with individuals.

During a slow period on Saturday, I asked one of my fellow protesters why he thought the movement came about. He told me he felt it was because, as a whole, the Occupy movement was fighting against two major roadblocks in the political discussion: corporate greed and influence, and social apathy.

Corporate influence in American politics is probably the largest idea that the Occupy movement is fighting. It’s amazing how simple it is for politicians to be bought out in our political process: if a special interest lobby finds the right politician and throws enough money at them, that politician will vote however the special interest lobby tells them to vote. And no one is immune to it; any person in the political process can be bought out by someone with enough money.

A phrase I heard over the weekend, that I’m starting to become a fan of, is “You dance with the one who brought you,” meaning if a politician is elected thanks to unlimited funds from a bunch of major corporations, you better be prepared to be under the rule of that corporation for as long as that politician is in office.

Maybe I’m in the minority, but I would rather the politicians I help elect to have the interests of the American public in mind when making decisions, rather than electing Senator Joe Everyman, sponsored by Target.

Social apathy is a much broader subject to tackle, but if I understand this man’s thinking, that front is being fought by the movement itself. Corporations have been influencing American politics for quite a while, and there hasn’t been a huge movement to address that fact until the Occupy movement. There may have been some fringe movements in the past, but nothing to the magnitude of the Occupy movement.

The social apathy fight, I believe, began in the 2008 election, with the shift to a more grassroots type of campaigning, reaching out to the young voting bloc that is often ignored. More and more young people, many of whom have never been part of the political system before, are now taking a more active role in electing officials and shaping the political spectrum. It’s something that can be admired on both sides of the spectrum: college-aged Republicans, Democrats, and everything in between, working for what they see is best for the American people.

The thing is, fighting social apathy doesn’t begin and end with politics. There are injustices all over the world, and in many aspects within the United States, and many times people will ignore these injustices, because caring about them enough to do something about it is a lot of work. The Occupy movement is as much about motivating people to do something about the injustices in our world as it is actually fighting the injustices themselves.

If I had to sum up the message of the Occupy movement, the honest answer is that I couldn’t. There are the general principles of fighting greed, getting corporate money out of politics, fighting social apathy, etc. But as for one cohesive message? There isn’t one yet. I’m certain that once more people join in the dialogue, something could possibly be drawn up and a statement released.

As one Occupier in St. Louis observed: “This isn’t a movement that will just end once our demands are met.” The Occupy movement is a movement that needs to stick around and continually keep people, corporations, and politicians in check. Because if people are mad now, imagine how they’d feel if the same revolution were to pop up every few years.

2 Responses to “Occupy Week, Part III: The Message”

  1. […] Just Makes Sense Making Sense of the World Around Us « Occupy Week, Part III: The Message […]

  2. […] I: The People Part II: The Camp Part III: The Message Part IV: […]

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