Occupy Wall Street, Mainstream Media
and The Club of 99
* Mainstream Media Person interviewing Occupy Wall Street Participant—
MMP: How does this translate into action, something more than just a kind of cri-de-coeur, without any focus?
OWSP: It’s a very clear focus when you say, “Occupy Wall Street”.
* * * * *
What is surprising is that Ms. Gladstone, like so many other mainstream media commentators, insist on evaluating Occupy Wall Street and its now-
nationwide international offshoots through the lens of an outdated political success narrative.
Throughout her Oct. 9 On the Media report, Ms. Gladstone seemed positively exasperated that the Occupy Wall Street movement “offers no specifics, no demands, no candidates”.
Memo to pundits: Occupy Wall Street isn’t going to offer specifics, demands or (and especially not) candidates. Not now. Not ever.
But it is likely to have a memorable impact on the future U.S. political landscape because it has achieved the unthinkable: getting increasing numbers of Americans from across the ideological spectrum to put aside party loyalties just long enough to pay closer attention to the details defining the nation’s economic and social dissolution.
Certainly, key economic and social issues are discussed incessantly within the daily churn of broadcast talk shows, op-eds and partisan web blogs. Up till now most Americans haven’t been listening too closely.
They’ve been trusting lawmakers and corporate leaders to figure Things out and get Things back to Sort of OkayNormal, back to when nobody except economics geeks and business reporters paid attention to financial yadayada like Economic Indicators, Factory Orders Reports, Bond Yields, Producer Price Indices and — lurking like a psycho slasher in the shadows — Weekly Jobless Claims.
Occupy Wall Street is pointing out publicly, loudly and without any talking-head nuance that the folks who messed Things up to begin with aren’t probably going to do a better job fixing them now. Occupy Wall Street is telling us we ought to be scared as well as mad.
Occupy Wall Street is group therapy for a troubled America, the America that belongs to the anxious, confused and struggling poor and middle-class members of The Club of 99, their ranks drawn from the entire rainbow-with-no-pot-o’-gold spectrum of 2011 America — the young, the old, men and women, students and workers, the unemployed and underpaid found among every ethnicity and in every single state of the union. Occupy Wall Street has given this broad swath of America permission to go on-camera, on-line and in-person to a demonstration near them to express their own economic indicators.
They’re speaking out because they realize that — finally — there are people listening. Not politicians, not pundits, not professional political activists. But People Like Them whose future aspirations of having the American Good Life appear to be rapidly sinking into a quicksand pit of economic inequality. With not a single helping hand in sight.
That’s your Focus, media prophets, and that’s your Action: Occupy Wall Street has gotten people to see the Bigger Picture affecting the welfare of everyone in The Club of 99 … and to stop being ashamed because they’re not part of the elite tail that wags the nation’s economic dog.
Occupy Wall Street has enticed people away from their televisions to poke their heads up and take a glance at what’s going on outside their digital cocoons.
It’s the realest reality show sweeping the country, because it’s making some real facts a whole lot realer than most people wanted to think about until now.
It’s the reality show of Food Stamp Stars: America the Outsourced …
STARRING!!! … the 46 million Americans (nearly 1 in 6) who are miserable, suffering, desperately poor (including the 43 million and growing who rely on food stamps to keep from starving) … the hundreds of thousands of white, blue, all-collar workers laid off monthly even as corporate “job creator” profits climb … the nearly 50 million Americans without health insurance as Republican-dominated state legislatures sabotage the 2010 federal health care laws … the 28% of U.S. home owners drowning in underwater mortgages … the wholesale rewriting of environmental, labor, drug and food safety laws to satisfy special-interest whims of That Magical Mystical One Percent who control 42% of the nation’s wealth.
Not to mention the pathos of Corporate America trembling over the possibility of paying a slightly increased share of the public costs needed to maintain the stable economic and social infrastructure that has helped their businesses earn trickle-up profits for decades.
There’s your beaucoups of cri-de-coeur and then some.
But inquiring media minds ask: will any of this have discernible consequences for the 2012 elections?
Occupy Wall Street will cause many voters to ask different questions in 2012 than they might have previously. Traditional political action operates on an exclusionary principle, and Occupy Wall Street is significantly tweaking that.
Example: I vote for Candidate A because she promises to protect me from Candidate B and the illogical/deluded/incompetent people I believe he represents through his utterly wrong-headed proposals. You vote for Candidate B because he promises to protect you from me, my dangerous fellow travelers and our disastrous ideas on how to run the country.
You and I cling to our party identities like they were threadbare security blankets. At the end of the day, we don’t keep warm and the blanket is never big enough … but we do own a large pile of odorous lint we can barter on craigslist.
Occupy Wall Street is saying to politicians and corporate leaders: you’re all guilty till you prove yourself innocent with rational legislation to correct the imbalances of our economic system that are harming millions of Americans.
Show us the responsibility.
Show us you really care about our ravaged environment and our children getting a decent education and our workers getting the chance to transition to relevant 21st-century jobs that can’t be outsourced to exploited labor populations overseas.
Show us you really give a damn about this America that has been so bountifully good to you and your personal bottom line.
Start from there, and we can work out the myriad of details that make a functioning Democracy.
Or else What?
That’s the question that has the mainstream media in a tizzy. What next Big Action can this un-focused, un-regulated, individual-centered form of instant politics generate?
Already there are a galaxy of single-issue spinoffs such as the upcoming “National Bank Transfer Day” slated for Nov. 5, started by a 27-year-old Los Angeles art gallery owner who’s mad as heck about big U.S. banks increasing fees, shucking off their tax duty and hoarding taxpayer-funded TARP bailout money while holding back loans.
But at its core, Occupy Wall Street is a classic “media-is-the-message” paradigm. The Media … 300 million of American Us delivering a heart-felt Message that proclaims:
Every One of Us is a Shareholder in America.
Every individual American is Too Big to Fail.
When corporations and Congress make public policy, the bottom line of every American should be considered.
It may end up representing not just a rare moment in time when ordinary people speak Truth to Power.
As much as ordinary people speaking Power to Power.
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