For real change, abandon Occupy and start over


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The other day as I hobbled my way down the Pedestrian Mall, I had the fortune of overhearing someone passionately describe Occupy Iowa City. Of course, the ensuing quote was priceless

"Occupy's evolved to become so much greater than protesting the fools on Wall Street," the passerby claimed with more than a twinkle of naïveté. (Whether she actually understood the term "mission creep" I'm unaware, but after hearing her thoroughly dim-witted response, I felt it wasn't worth my time to bother asking.)

You see, in the previous couple weeks, Iowa City's media outlets have come down pretty harshly on Occupy Iowa City's questionable status as a "movement," forcing members to defend their decentralized organization, which they had assured us would change the world.

First, there was a surprisingly poignant portrayal of what Occupy Iowa City has become in Monday's edition of the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Also on Monday, Daily Iowan Opinions Editor Chris Steinke penned an op-ed describing in detail the decrepit state of the park in which the "organization" is based while evidencing the lackadaisical state of the few Occupiers who remained.

Both stories served to stoke the "movement" by firing up supporters, who quickly moved to blast naysayers on both media organizations' discussion boards. (A few commenters on the Daily Iowan's website even went so far as to threaten violence upon the author.) Unfortunately, neither piece went far enough in attacking the movement for what it really has become.

So let's examine the cold, hard truth about Occupy Iowa City and the Occupy movement nationally, shall we?

For starters, it's eminently clear the movement is fading. The symbolic home of the protest, New York City's Zuccotti Park, has long been vacated and closed to additional occupation. Adding insult to injury, a newly released poll shows how quickly prominent occupations, such as Occupy Oakland, are losing public support.

Although it's not unexpected that an organization with such a loose set of guiding principles has faltered, Occupy has shown us why a truly decentralized, grass-roots movement is incapable of making anything other than chaotic noise. What started as a directed effort in targeting income inequality and financial insanity has since become muddled up in its own incomprehensible discourse and misplaced direction.

One needn't look any further than Occupy Iowa City's Facebook page to understand the confusion. The page, after all, has become nothing more than a glorified Pinterest board for conspiratorial YouTube videos or lost and found postings of former protesters. If you bother sifting through the madness, however, you'll find everything from antiwar demonstration proposals to posts advocating ecological sustainability (both meritable positions, though hardly relatable to Wall Street).

Now let's be clear: There are tremendous inequalities that exist in American society today. But for any movement to have real effect on civic discourse, a broad consensus must be held by its supporters, and some sort of action must occur. While Occupiers are often quite passionate about their views, they consistently lack the ability to move as one cohesive entity and effectively enact change.

As a balanced liberal and rational American, I agree that the issues facing America today are foreboding. The solutions to these issues, however, are not unfathomable and certainly don't involve collective moaning and groaning. Instead, real progress through direct political involvement, and meaningful social interaction must be made if we want to recapture our glory.

Still, the few remaining Occupiers tread forward blindly. On Wednesday, Occupy Iowa City organizers told the DI they would like to focus on the often overlooked southeastern side of the city, although lost in the mix were any action-oriented proposals.

This desire to expand only further exemplifies Occupy's befuddled logic of "what do we do next?" In the end, that's why the Occupy movement needs to die and ultimately will. Those hoping to enact real change should abandon the movement and do so today.

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