Occupy Wall Street Six Months Later: Why OWS Failed and How it Can Be Revived


Six months ago, the Occupy Wall Street movement took the country by storm. Started in Lower Manhattan's Zuccotti by a group of disenfranchised protesters fed up with the continual bailout of Wall Street banks, the populist movement spread like wild fire with encampments springing in American cities from coast to coast, and even further into countries across the globe. 

Within weeks, Occupy Wall Street became the hip expression of dissent cheered on by celebrity support, while the corporate world quaked and Fox News used every character assassination in the books to vilify the group's efforts. 

Occupy pressed on as its ranks continued to grow but the success was short lived. From the outset, Occupy Wall Street was destined to fail. As it did, it fell victim to every Fox News stereotype nearly ruining a golden opportunity to challenge America's corporatocrisy. 

The failure of the occupy leadership, was just that: a failure to assume leadership. The group's noble and rather democratic goals of allowing the occupy movement to be a big tent for all gripes and grievances quickly diluted its founding anti-corporatocrisy message.

With no direction, protesters began using the Occupy platform to advocate for gay rights, protest the wars in Afghanistan, push for the legalization of marijuana, fight environmental injustices, and object to a myriad of other believed injustices. 

In the process, the movement of the 99% lost control of its image and turned large numbers of people off by playing to the conservatives' stereotype of an unorganized, incompetent and whiny group of pseudo radicals.

By insisting that everyone have a voice, Occupy Wall Street failed to recognize the fundamental foundation of building a movement: that you champion one cause and fight for one objective.

Yet the Occupy movement is not dead and still has a chance for a come back. Millions of Americans are still angry and hold deep resentment towards a corporate world that has reaped huge financial rewards while screwing the poor and middle class. 

So just like you found a company based one core idea and build a team around one All Star player, Occupy Wall Street must reign in its emphasis and restart its movement around one major goal.

Fortunately, the movement has two pretty big and unpopular issues to focus on right now: Wall Street, the original recipient of Occupy's anger, and the Supreme Court decision of Citizens United.

The Occupy movement can't lose by going after either one. Take Wall Street for example. The disgust with Wall Street has never been higher, and with good reason. Think of all the negative press recently. From Matt Taibbi's charged takedown of Bank of America where he highlights how Bank of America has stolen tens of billions from American tax payers, to the Goldman Sachs executive who quit saying Goldman put money ahead of it's clients to the allegations that several banks knowingly overcharged and swindled American veterans, Wall Street is shamefully out of control.

Then there is the Citizen's United decision which has allowed corporations to pour unlimited millions of dollars into political campaigns thus drowning out individual votes and leaving the Republican Party with the candidate no one really likes in Mitt Romney. 

Kidding aside, these aren't partisan issues. Bank of America isn't swindling people along party lines while conservatives who principally supported Citizens United aren't so thrilled with its outcome considering the current acrimony in the Republican primary and the fact that corporate interests are again winning out.

Given the immense support attention paid to the Kony 2012 campaign, imagine the impact of Occupy Wall Street if it were to focus on a very narrow and targeted agenda. Millions of Americans are still angry. Millions of Americans want an outlet to vent their frustrations and millions of Americans are looking to be part of a movement that can bring about real change.

After a sputtering start, Occupy Wall Street still has the ability to be that movement that can draw wide support from both parties and all walk's of life. It has an incredible opportunity to ignite an already energized group of supporters so long as it galvanizes them and focuses their support around one key issue. 

Occupy Wall street has potential to transform our defunct political system but if it doesn't and again fizzles out, it will go down as one of our generation's greatest disappointments and leave millions even more cynical about our democratic process. 

Six months since it's inception, Occupy Wall Street is still searching for it's identity. Sadly that's its whole problem.

Photo Credit: getdarwin