Thoughts on Occupy Wall Street

In the NYT editorial pages, Charles Blow seems irked that the Occupy Wall Street hasn’t really gone anywhere yet. Blow’s gripe, as best I can tell, is that there’s no coherent message from the movement, and, consequently, the movement won’t have much of an electoral effect. This is an opinion expressed by Booman, albeit a few days ago and in much greater detail, in response to Glenn Greenwald’s essay on the media coverage of the protests.

I went down to the protests around South Station yesterday and came away with a few thoughts. First of all, I swear that 80% of the people at that thing were either raised Unitarian Universalists or took their cues from UUs. Everything about that protest, from the hand signals to the atmosphere to the need of consensus to move forward (which never works, given how opinionated/contrarian at least a few UUs in any given group are) smacks of my time in Youth Group at Arlington’s UU church congregation. Now, I love UUs; they’re my people and I agree with them philosophically, politically and spiritually. But expecting to get anything decided through consensus with a group like that is slow going.

On top of that, along the line of criticism that Booman raised, I do wonder if any of those people are involved in more “traditional’ types of activism or political work. Because standing outside of the Boston Fed is all well and good, but if you want to make a more concrete difference, there are a whole lot of other things that need to be done. Volunteer for a campaign. Go door-to-door. Canvass. I’m not the best one to broadcast this message, because although I’ve been paying attention pretty closely to politics for the past few years, I really haven’t done jackshit. I’ll volunteer for the Warren campaign this time around, though, see what that experience is like and decide where I go from there.

I’m loathe to be too hard on any of the people at the protests, because I agree with them philosophically, and the political process as is sucks. There aren’t too many candidates I’d be gung-ho working for and I’m glad that one of those relative few will be running for Senate in MA. I’m lucky in that respect.

Activism and organization aren’t guaranteed to make the country a better place, but that sure as hell has a better chance of doing so than ironic detachment.

Also too, you know how YouTube now has thirty-second commercials for products before you can watch the video? The one before Rage’s Sleep Now in the Fire is for Citi Bank. Solid irony.

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