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Vail Valley Voices: How the Occupy movement might matter

Matthew Kennedy
Vail, CO, Colorado

Last week we explored the Occupy movement’s background and participants. This segment examines the issues it is concerned with. We’ll also consider how the Occupy movement how can achieve its highest potential.

The movement can have a profound impact on the American and international political-economic landscapes, providing:

n A central, coordinating organization is formed in the United States and overseas.



n Its leaders articulate a clear, simple message.

n Policy positions are realistic, practical, evolutionary and centrist.

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n It supports candidates who are electable and inside the political arena (if the Occupy leadership enters the political fray).

n It prohibits anarchists, troublemakers and other related individuals from participating who are more concerned with inciting chaos than advancing the organization’s aims.

There are few moments in history when large segments of society are united by inadequate political, economic, or social conditions. Examples include the French Revolution and the civil Rrghts movement. While most of the events have occurred regionally, none have transpired on an international level — the Occupy movement has those characteristics. It has a unique rare opportunity to change the global political and economic climate, but only if it implements the aforementioned measures.



Many of the issues the Occupy movement is concerned with is shared by the moderate majority. Their common objectives are a desire for better-paying and higher-quality employment opportunities, a limitation of corporate participation in politics, and an enhanced oversight and regulation of the financial arena.

A key problem with the movement is the viability of some of their policy proposals. Some are feasible, such as a “regulators to be genuinely independent of the industries they regulate,” as the Occupy London website notes.

Other policy proposals are impractical: For example, Occupy Wall Street’s demand for an “Immediate across-the-board debt forgiveness for all.” It’s unrealistic and will not occur.

The Occupy movement can become a formidable political force, providing it morphs into a cohesive organization. It currently resembles a lose conglomeration of individuals exercising their First Amendment rights.

The movement could transform into a potent political entity if it adopts an organizational hierarchy, a hierarchy involving a coordinating international committee with representatives from the U.S., European and Asian Occupy movements.

The newly formed organization should:

n Consist of a central committee in each nation encompassing representatives from the regional Occupy movements.

n Elect national and regional leaders.

n Create sub-committees responsible for media affairs, organizational activities, and fundraising.

n Replicate the structure at the local level with an additional committee accountable for volunteer recruitment and related activities.

The potential for the above direction exists. Different leaders have and are surfacing within the Occupy movement. Now they must consolidate and transform it into an entity with structure.

The next steps relate to media and policy issues. I would encourage the creation of a simple slogan. President Obama’s Campaign Slogan of “Yes We Can!” is an example. The motto should be short, yet memorable (“We are the 99%” is unacceptable).

Second, create policy positions that are practical, encompass liberal and conservative elements, and avoid extreme left or right positions. A platform incorporating ultra-liberal or conservative elements will be dismissed.

The chances are high that mainstream moderate majority members will be more inclined to support the Occupy’s agenda with a platform entailing a combination of the above ideas.

And finally, it should support candidates who advocate those views regardless of political party, yet are within the political systemand who are electable or can be re-elected. A mistake would be to support a candidate outside of the political spectrum purely for the rationale that he-she is an “outsider.” Such a candidate would not be taken seriously.

The movement absolutely must sideline anarchists, criminals and other anti-social elements whose only goal is inciting civil disobedience. These individuals have the potential to tarnish the Occupy movement’s image.

The challenge for Occupy is creating an inclusionary environment that is intolerant of the above individuals. It’s a task of which many within the movement are awaref — and are probably addressing.

The potential for Occupy movement to change America’s political landscape is enormous. A recent poll by Time Magazine noted 86 percent surveyed concurred with the movement’s main points; 66 percent of those were Democrats and Independents, while a third were Republicans.

The Occupy Movement has the attention of the moderate majority. It can become a fulcrum of change, if its modus-operandi is altered.

Matthew Kennedy has a master’s degree in diplomatic studies from the University of Westminster in London. He’s lived in Europe, Asia and Russia. Comments or questions can be directed to intl.affairs@yahoo.com.


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