Now that the election is finally over I thought I would see the end of the (seemingly endless) election e-mails mostly begging for money or at least sensationalizing the latest squeak from the “other” party. But, lo and behold, now come the endless thank you s. I suppose that is only politically correct. One must thanks one’s supporters. I found the tearful Obama video where he thanked his campaign staff touching. But there is one group which hasn’t been and probably won’t be thanked by the Obama administration precisely because it would not be politically correct.
The occupy movement, I believe, has had a basically unacknowledged effect on this election. Occupy was/is targeted at putting banks and corporations on notice that the people are on to their games. It has not been targeted particularly for or against this country’s political parties. But in the course of its mission it provided education that our popular media has failed to do. Through rallies, human microphones, signs, protests, general strikes, etc. occupy has succeeded in educating a great deal of people, in particular young people and urban minorities. And the Obama campaign has acknowledged that they actually did better in those demographics than they did in 2008.
Loud mouth right-wing pundits loudly decried the movement saying it was communist/socialist (you know, one of those bad words that scares right wingers even though they don’t actually know its meaning?). They looked to have the movement crushed and when the first camps were forcibly removed the right-wing gleefully declared the end of “occupy”. Anyone with an ounce of sense knew that this grass-roots movement was not and is not dead. It continued on periodically through some creative community activism helping to stop foreclosures, challenge high bonuses, etc. and were successful in that.
Occupy became virtually a news outlet in the absence of a serious unbiased news outlet in our polarized capitalist driven news system. They effectively communicated relevant information to the people who needed it. Many people were able to take action in ways that the government had not offered and news outlets were unaware. In fact occupy spoke very effectively to the disenfranchised who still will find very little in our standard media outlets that is relevant to their plight and practically no help from even the best intentioned actions undertaken by the Obama administration.
Except that there was one amazing opportunity in which the Obama administration was able to demonstrate actions which spoke directly to individuals and their plight. And it is also politically incorrect to thank this opportunity. I am speaking of course of Hurricane Sandy. Here was an example of actions which spoke directly to the people affected and even the news outlets got that. Now granted the people affected were in a large, heavily populated area with mostly pretty high incomes. But the salient point is that the Obama took the opportunity to demonstrate the government working on a level which individuals could see in real-time.
Now I don’t expect that ‘Occupy’ or ‘Sandy’ will be getting any thanks (where would you send that e-mail?) but it does put a different spin on the occupy movement and it has demonstrated that people respond quite well to actions which they can actually see (who knew?). I don’t want to see another natural disaster but I hope that the occupy movement continues its creative actions and that the government and the news outlets can take a lesson here to the effect that helping people might help them as well.