Occupy Wall Street is a community-based movement spreading across the country, from college campuses to small towns. The best way for people already invested in traditional politics, from elected officials to members of politically based groups, to approach it is not by aligning their issues with some issue you or your group is working on, and of course not by calling them a “mob”. It’s just to participate in the community by going down and offering something of value. That could just be support or something tangible. That’s what AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka did today.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka appeared Friday morning at Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.
Trumka said he came to show his support and hear the protesters’ perspective.
He also brought bagels, water and other supplies.
I read a story from our Lisa Derrick about an actor from Raising Hope going to Occupy LA, giving his time to help move some infrastructure about, writing a $5,000 check, and leaving. If what you have in the Occupy protests is an alternative vision of society, then the proper response is to contribute to that society. It isn’t very hard and you don’t need a committee meeting about how to respond to the scene in Zuccotti Park. You just go.
The last thing you do is start to put the protests on one side or the other of the political spectrum, because they don’t see it that way:
“At this point I don’t see any difference between George Bush and Obama. The middle class is a lot worse than when Obama was elected,” said John Penley, an unemployed legal worker from Brooklyn […]
In Zuccotti Park, the center of the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, activists expressed deep frustration with the political gridlock in Washington. While some blamed Republicans for blocking reform, others singled out Obama.
“His message is that he’s sticking to the party line, which is ‘we are taking care of the situation.’ But he’s not proposing any solutions,” said Thorin Caristo, an antiques store owner from Plainfield, Conn.
But Robert Arnow, a retired real estate worker, said the Republicans need to tell their congressional leaders, “You’re standing in the way of change.”
Ultimately, this is an anti-politics movement. The more buttoned-up types fear that this will lead to a solutions deficit, even while supporting the instinct of protesting Wall Street. I don’t worry about that. The parallel movements around bank accountability are succeeding in some of their short-term goals and feeding off of movement energy. The solutions are voluminous. The policymakers can do their job, or they can continue to get subjected to scorn by a broad-based movement that feels their interests are being represented.
But as far as reacting to the movement, it’s about simple gestures.
More along these lines from Charlie Pierce.