Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy Boston. Occupying What?

©2011 Boston to a T

This was an Op-Ed piece that I wrote for one of my classes this semester. I went down to Occupy Boston last week and I was personally disappointed by it. 

For about three weeks now, a rather large group has made a home for themselves in the financial district of Boston. They have dubbed themselves Occupy Boston. Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protesters, they are people who think that this country is in need of some serious change.
Last week I had the opportunity to go down to Occupy Boston. Before I set foot in the makeshift shanty town I had no idea what I was in for. All I knew before I went there was what I had gathered from some Tweets and from some op-ed articles. People either praised it or hated it with a passion. When I entered  Dewey Square, where Occupy Boston has set up camp, I knew that this was going to be something that was vastly different than anything that I have experienced before.
It is clear that all of the Occupy Boston protester are passionate about change, but what’s not clear is what exactly they hope to accomplish through their actions. The national Occupy movement has been unable to produce definite leaders or even a clear list of objectives beside a general series of extremely liberal talking points. I am completely fine with people being upset about our economy and political system, but being successful with a protest requires much more than just a huge amount of public frustration.
Being such a young campaign, the Occupy protester have definitely been, for the most part, organized. They have been very successful in using social media to get the word out. Nevertheless, with the current way that the campaign is put together, in the future, it will have more than a few problems as it tries to become more than just a turnout of frustrated Americans.
My largest issue, which it seems to be the issue of many other people, is that the Occupy movement does not really even know what it wants. As I was there looking at different signs that people were holding I saw issues that ranged from “Stop world hunger” to “stop outsourcing” and my personal favorite: “Fox News is the devil”. There is no definitive problem that everyone is onboard with. I talked to one gentleman who was the supposed head of their information desk. He didn't really have that much information for me, but he said, “We don’t really have one central argument...we have a lot, but our most basic issue with this country is that our democratic structures are broken,” I cannot comprehend how these people believe that saying our government is broken is a basic issue. It’s massive. I’m just trying to understand that whether the purpose of their protest is to demand a complete governmental overhaul or initiate a new economic system. If it’s either one, It’s going to take a lot more than some people holding signs and putting up tents to make it happen.
The feelings behind this movement are certainly understandable. People have a right to be angry, especially given the years-long downturn that this country is in. People also have the right to protest, but for these protests to effect change, they need to have goals and well-defined methods for how to obtain said goals.

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