COMMENTARY | The Occupy Wall Street movement started with multiple ideas of what they wanted to accomplish. Some said they were looking to get change out of Wall Street; others said they were looking to shut down the corporations that are housed there; others were looking to completely bring down the democratic system of government the United States has enjoyed for over two hundred years.
Now, the movement is largely unorganized and losing steam. Promised protests in New York City and San Francisco were smaller than expected, with only a few burned police vehicles and news vans on the May Day rallies and protests. Is this a sign of a slowing movement, or did Occupy Wall Street just have a bad day?
Movements like Occupy Wall Street are difficult to sustain for several reasons. First and foremost, the group has no single common goal that all the protesters can rally around. If you were to ask five different "Occupy" protesters what they wanted at the end of the day, you might get five different answers. Companies that have multiple priorities often-times find themselves stretched too thin to be effective at any of them, and movements are no different.
Secondly, Occupy Wall Street does not represent the majority of Americans. America was founded on the principles of "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness." Most Americans have seen the Occupy protesters smashing car windows, standing in the way of people trying to get to work, and generally disregarding proper hygiene measures and local laws. Regardless of political orientation, most Americans have a hard time finding common ground with people ranting against companies doing well and destroying private property that does not belong to them.
Third and most important is the fact that Occupy Wall Street is taking on forces that are simply too large to overcome. Corporations are owned by millions of Americans in the form of stocks. Corporations donate big money to political causes. In short, corporations have become engrained in the American way of life, and that fact is unlikely to change in the near future.
While it is true that nearly every person I know is part of the "99%," very few acquaintances of mine would be willing to associate themselves with the Occupy Wall Street movement. That, along with the fact that Occupy Wall Street protesters don't have a central goal or organization, will be the downfall of the movement.
- Society & Culture
- Wall Street