On Saturday I attended an Occupy Wall Street rally in my city. It was organized in less than a week on Facebook and drew a crowd of (I’d guess) 150 people. The rally was followed by a march through the streets and then by a “mic check”, where anybody could stand up and say anything. The entire event was peaceful, passionate and — most importantly — non-political. Although attendees shared many specific ideas in private conversations, no one lost focus on the group’s unifying concern: economic justice.
Conservative pundits and Wall Street shills scorn OWS’a lack of a policy agenda, but they’re fighting the last war. This country doesn’t need any left-wing teabaggers, thank you very much. Rick Santelli’s original Tea Party lasted as a true grass-roots movement for about five minutes. In short order, it became little more than a boarding house for extremist Republicans who hate Barack Obama and who don’t mind being used by the Koch brothers. The Tea Party now has no influence outside the GOP.
OWS, by contrast, has a chance to achieve something much bigger. That’s because it’s based, not on ideology — which Americans tend to distrust — but on reality. The rich are getting richer. The poor are getting poorer. The middle class is disappearing. These are now powerful, undeniable facts — facts that, if honestly and tirelessly presented, might move people of all political stripes to demand change.
As long as this movement stays true to its primary purpose, it can grow. And from what I’ve seen so far — it will.