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'Occupy' lacks order

BY JOE SCHUELLER | OCTOBER 20, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Occupy movement that has been sweeping the country doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon, so get used to Guy Fawkes-masked kids advocating … something — to whatever end. Do you know? I don't know.

The original occupation in New York City is nearing a one-month milestone, while the occupation in Iowa City is heading for more than two weeks in length. As a Tea Party supporter myself, there is one root grievance I approve of — angst with the bailouts of 2008 and 2009 — while the rest I find entirely disagreeable. Because I love the exchange of ideas through the Constitution, I'd like to offer the movement some advice on how to make political change.

The tactics of the Occupation during their emergence are counterproductive. What the Tea Parties did remarkably well was making sure that our initial surge of protests on April 15, 2009, were nationally remarked through our platform and our numbers, and then putting down the signs and getting to work through organizing. The occupations are making themselves known "too much" by staying indefinitely in their occupied spaces.

It gives people a bad impression when they see their public spaces virtually destroyed.

For those who aren't a part of the Occupy movement: Do you think the movement, based on the way it has presented itself as a whole, will be anything more than a long-term sit-in? My guess is that your answer is "maybe" or "probably not." That's not good if you want to gain people's support.

Not long after the first Tea Party rally held in Dubuque that I co-organized, we formed a local group that met to discuss issues of interest and decide how we should respond in order to make our position known. Through groups such as Tea Party Patriots, FreedomWorks, and Americans for Prosperity (among others), a referendum of sorts formally established our movement's manifesto of Constitutionally limited government, fiscal responsibility, and free markets.

Afterward, we left those groups alone and most haven't aligned with them since. The Occupy movement already has the backing of labor unions and other progressive groups like the Center for American Progress and the Tides Foundation. Why not work with them to solidify your message and then break up into localities?

It was from this basis that we could move forward and make political change when our Congressional representatives came home to roost and held town-hall meetings in their districts. If you recall over the summer and early fall of 2009, President Obama's health-care reform package — "Obamacare," as our movement dubbed it in memory of "Hillarycare" — was a prime topic for debate. The media were in an uproar when Tea Party members flooded these town halls in unprecedented numbers, making sure our beliefs were heard loud and clear. There was no way one could deny the tenacity of the movement because we made it known that our platform was here to stay.

We rode this wave of political optimism through the 2010 elections, when we helped Tea Party-aligned candidates win in primary races and carried them through the general election. Republicans retook the House as the majority party and narrowed the gap in the Senate. We turned Washington upside down in less than two years.

The Iowa City Occupiers have made it clear that they stand in solidarity with the Wall Street Occupation, but I feel that's the wrong message to send. Between clashes with police and protesters seen defecating on patrol cars — not to mention the endorsements by the U.S. Communist and Nazi parties — outsiders may view this as antithetical to their goals.

To sum it up: Go home, shower, and organize. Isn't that what the left is good at, anyway?


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