Occupy with a Mission

It has been argued over and over whether or not it was a good thing that the Occupy movement didn’t have a clear mission or aim. It seems to me ridiculous (and pedantic when it so often takes the shape of disconnected academic apologetics) to claim that it was. In fact, I think such a claim has been a form of progressive, intellectualist coping. Occupy was beautiful and it was frustrating. It was provocative and stunted. It needed a soul.

What’s remarkable is how many people sympathized with what it was the Occupy movement was pushing against: the exploitation of big finance and the collusion of money and politics. While thousands gathered in the streets, I bet hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions, were sympathetic yet uninvolved (for a number of reasons).

Occupy needed a singular mission, something that wouldn’t alienate the politically diverse following it originally had that could be talked about in the media, summed up for the papers, and discussed on talk shows. It should have had a political aim and an action point.

I’m sure this has been said by tons of other people, but I’ll say it anyway. Occupy’s political aim should have been plain: publicly funded elections. The only way to truly put a lasting wedge between big money and politics (and to approach authentic democracy) is to prohibit privately funded campaigns. Of course this would potentially also have the fortunate affect of centralizing issues and arguments in an election cycle.

Occupy’s action point should have been (and this did happen but after the fact, and it wasn’t closely enough connected with the Occupy movement itself) to withdraw all money and mortgages from big banks.

This wouldn’t have launched a progressive utopia, but these two things would’ve provided a heart to what could have been a ground-shaking movement. And it seems these points are non-partisan enough to not alienate so much of the movement’s following. It provides a (sure, idealistic, but aren’t all demands?) central focus, an easy talking point of less than 140 characters, and a way for everyone interested to participate.

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