BOSTON (CBS) – Before we discuss what is worth remembering about the Occupy protests here in Boston and elsewhere, let’s touch briefly on what was forgettable about them.
Listen to Jon’s commentary:
The narcissism of the drummers in New York’s Zuccotti Park, who equated scratching their itch to make noise and be noticed with protest even as their fellow protesters were begging them to stop; the cluelessness of the young woman in Dewey Square who told me with a straight face that the encampment represented the start of a change in “our global way of living”; and the aggressive failure to ever settle on a clear focus, a decision the movement seemed so proud of but which left most of the rest of us confused and skeptical.
As cringe-worthy as all that was, it wasn’t as bad as some of the knee-jerk reactions to Occupy.
Some on the right unfairly stereotyped all the protesters as slackers, but the folks responsible for keeping Occupy Boston functioning were some of the harder-working people I’ve met lately. And liberals who cast the camps as the start of a new American revolution look kind of silly now, as the “revolution” fizzles out amid a wave of mostly-negative publicity.
But speaking of publicity, the Occupations did have an impact that may prove lasting and worthwhile, depending on the degree to which you believe this country needs change for the better.
This was mostly a movement of young people, many with very legitimate complaints about the world they’re being handed by their elders. If they prove they can focus on concrete issues, and organize and vote and lobby as a bloc, they might someday wield clout the Tea Party would envy.
The Occupiers mostly steered clear of association with political parties. If their advocacy avoids partisan pigeonholing going forward, they might tap into the fastest-growing political group in America – independents who shun the major parties as self-serving empty vessels.
The Occupy movement has been a hot mess, true. But if the serious, sober core of it can take the lessons learned and build a non-partisan force for change powered by a fresh generational perspective, maybe it’s won’t have been a waste of time after all.
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