Wall Street gone, but not forgotten
“You can’t evict an idea.” The catchphrase of the Occupy movement still resonates, though the momentum itself has slowed down. The mass of 99 percent-ers protesting American capitalism and unequal wealth distribution has, after a solid three months, faded out of sight. The media coverage of the Occupy movements has fizzled out, and attention to the topic has dwindled as most encampments across the country have been shut down and the protests have diminished as winter set in.
As 2011 came to a close, the movement seemed to end along with it, and with the fresh start of the new year the once hot-to-the-touch, buzzed about topic had naturally slipped out of the foreground. Looking back on the dynamic events that marked the protests against corporate greed and economic imbalance, it would be wrong to say that the movement has passed as a forgotten annoyance of the past. The Occupy efforts may be out of immediate sight, but they certainly are not out mind.
The impassioned zeal of the protesters who joined the Occupy movement, which originated in New York City with protests on Wall Street, proved to be irresistible to reporters and photographers, garnering their attention every day from the start. From the initial gathering at Manhattan’s Bowling Green Park on September 17, 2011 and the Zuccotti Park encampment that ensued shortly after, the media was enthralled each subsequent waking hour for the next few months.
The intrigue was obvious – the last time any real protest against the American government took place was during the Vietnam War era with the anti-war protests in the sixties. And those effects were lasting, influencing and inspiring organized dissent for generations to come. But in today’s society, where immediate gratification is expected to be served on a golden platter and impatience is the new bubonic plague, Americans seem to do a whole lot of talking with a lousy amount of action to compensate. For all the moaning and groaning about economic inequality, the lack of action and surplus of apathy had gone too far. It was time to take the talking to the streets, and relay a message worth hearing.
“The one thing we have in common is that we are the 99 percent and we will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent,” reads a statement from before the start of the protests on the official website for the national movement, OccupyWallStreet.org. Occupiers assembled in major cities all across the country, using social media to gather and organize their movement and implementing a rhetoric that captured enough attention to get into the political hemisphere. And now, with presidential campaigning moving front and center, the Occupiers’ ideas have organically trickled into the discussion, proving that their message was heard.
It echoed in Obama’s State of the Union address, when he told Congress, “It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom. No bailouts, no handouts, and no cop-outs. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.”
The occupiers had a lot opposition from the start, but their forces were strong and abundant. They were resented by many, those of which just never gave them the time of day, and automatically dismissed their cause assuming everyone involved was a “dirty hippie,” homeless, perpetually unemployed and uneducated. Those who refused to understand the efforts of those at the heart of the movement were just as ignorant as those they blindly mocked and condoned.
Those disgruntled by the movement often criticized it with accusations of being disorganized and lacking in purpose. While undoubtedly these statements could have been applied to a percentage of those who joined the Occupy forces, using such a blanket statement was obtuse. From the beginning, those who organized the movements stated that Occupy Wall Street began on the platform of gathering to “protest the influence of corporate money on American politics…and to persuade Obama to establish a commission that would end the influence money has over representatives in Washington,” according to a September 18 article from CBS news.
The New York Times recognized the movement on their “Times Topics” blog as “a stand against corporate greed, social inequality and the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process.” Taking a closer look at various media who followed the Occupy events from their start to their peak to close, it is clear that the general consensus is that the movement Occupy has ended – at least temporarily. But there is a difference between an ending and a conclusion. The Occupy movement has not concluded – there was not one final outcome that gave way for a natural reason to stop the protests, but rather a gradual fade-out due to resistance and failed attempts from the protesters to get what they wanted in combination with the winter weather. It wasn’t a bailout or a surrender, but merely a natural close to an attempt to be heard. The occupiers were bound to eventually lose steam, but their message has continued to resonate where it matters. And without a conclusion, can the movement really be dead? Not if it has an impact or sparks a future call to action. The only way to tell if it’s over is to see what happens next. You can’t evict an idea whose time is yet to come. Thus, only time can tell.