The quixotic Occupy movement needs some real leadership now. While most of us share the concerns of the Occupy Wall Street movement and have marveled at their ability to highlight issues that have really caused our economic pain, the immature and needless violence against people and property is hurting their cause and is ineffective in creating the change they seek.
Moreover, protesting in Oakland, San Jose, San Francisco and even New York is like spitting into the wind. These are places that are already sympathetic to the Occupy movement’s issues. But the middle and southern portions of the country are still bastions in the nation that have failed to understand that the people whom they vote for are actually the cause of their collective distress.
The message of the Occupy movement needs to be heard in Wyoming, Mississippi, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas—oh yeah, and what’s the matter with Kansas?
What would a protest in front of the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City look like?
The issues the movement cares about will not be solved by spray painting Oakland City Hall or clashing with police—many of whom agree with the protesters they are forced to arrest. The key is in spreading the message and activating a long dormant political base to action. Because while it may feel good to sing kumbaya, hold candles, shout at the establishment, camp out on sidewalks and generally make a nuisance of oneself—real change comes from political action.
That’s why the group needs leadership. But this opportunity will be short-lived if the anarchists have their way. The Occupy movement must be a symbol of hope and opportunity, not simply an angry mob or quasi-hippy commune. For if it doesn’t grow into a real movement, the opportunity for change will be lost.
For in the final analysis, camping on a ledge at San Jose City Hall may get you some headlines, but real political power comes from obtaining power inside the building.