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Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy Philly...Why?

I need to get this posted fast because I need to go to bed earlier than usual. I somehow find myself no longer unemployed and, as such, actually have to get up early for work in the morning. Although it's only a temp job for a few months each year, I'm now one of the fortunate ones. Many millions of others are not. The people camped out for over 10 days outside Philadelphia City Hall (and for longer periods in other locations) want that to change. I can understand, to some extent, Occupy Wall Street. Certainly much of what's wrong in this country is the fault of giant corporations and their excessive greed.

But this -- Occupy Philly -- is misguided. There's very little that Mayor Nutter or anyone in city government can do about these problems. Nothing they are doing by camping out here is having any effect on Washington politics. And that is where action is needed. Corporations will not police or reform themselves. The government has to do it. Everyone who's sitting around here and in other places all need to head to D.C. and take the protest to Capitol Hill and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And, of course, they all have to vote in every election (primaries and general elections) and keep voting no matter what. Just voting for Barack Obama in 2008 obviously wasn't enough to effect real change.
I'm betting a lot of these people ignored elections for years, then decided to vote for Obama and make history in 2008, and then got mad because he didn't magically make everything better and haven't voted since. The turnout in elections always drops in non-presidential election years, and that cannot continue. Until the voters of this nation get fed up once and for all and clean house of those who support the failed bailouts, corporate greed, attacks on social programs, etc. (in other words, most Republicans and some Democrats, and all of the Tea Party nuts), nothing will change.

In addition, even though they refute critics who say their message is muddled, there is truth in what those critics say. From my walking through the area last Monday, it all felt like a group of people saying "We're mad at something and we're going to stay here until things change!" When you have signs that say "Who will survive the Holocene extinction" and "Subvert the dominant paradigm" among the many, many signs littering Dilworth Plaza, you have a mixed message. I have no clue what those signs are trying to say. And when you have a woman on a bullhorn berating anyone who listened, talking about the "plantation nation" or something in what sure seemed like a racist diatribe, you're not making friends or influencing people.

And while everyone seems to be lauding the fact that there has been no violent clashes with police here, unlike in other cities, this is still not a great situation. They are making a mess of the plaza. They tout that they're keeping it clean but as I entered the plaza there was a distinct foul odor. You see all the signs, etc. all over the place in some of my photos in the slideshow above. And you know that conflict will be coming once the city is ready to begin the planned renovation of Dilworth Plaza. Are these people just going to leave? Or find another location? I don't think so. From what I've read, they're trying to run everything by consensus, having meeting after meeting after meeting in which everyone in attendance talks and talks and talks about whatever they want. With no one really taking charge, this will break down into chaos. I repeat -- this WILL break down into chaos. Between those with more specific gripes (such as the "plantation nation" lady) and the homeless people who are intermingled with these protestors (and no doubt taking advantage of the food donations), I don't see how it can end any other way. I'll be pleasantly surprised if it does.

I agree with so much of what they believe, but I think the only way this movement will create a real change is if they descend on Washington en masse from every other location, and if they come up with more specific changes that can be acted upon.

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