The answer: 415 million
The question: What are the number of hits when you google “Occupy Wall Street”?
The national frenzy, which physically occupies both Main Street’s city halls and Wall Street itself, has our collective attention. This amorphous phenomenon has resonated in the consciousness of millions of people in our country and throughout the world.
Not a bad effort for six weeks.
Now that the honeymoon is over there are many wondering where Occupy Wall Street is heading. I wondered that myself in my last column (“OWS: Throwing Rocks and Losing Relevance”), a piece in which I was sharply critized by several proponents of the movement. Their main objection, at least in my biased summation, was the negative portrayal of protesters following violent clashes with police, especially in Oakland, CA.
I admit that this was an oversimplification on my part. Though one of my main objectives in this column is to provide a backstage pass to police work, I would be disingenuous to ignore the experiences and views of readers in return. In other words, point taken.
Mea culpas aside, the Occupy Movement needs to make the transition from an idea to a plan. This appears to be the sentiment of other opinion writers, including those who openly support the movement’s principles (see today’s print editorial pages for an excerpt from the Kansas City Star).
For the first time since the tidal wave of protests surged out of NYC on September 17, the ripples are losing energy. The scientific reason for such a systemic energy loss would be the competing force of friction and time. In this analogy, the pundits (i.e. Fox News) are providing the friction, but the protesters themselves are responsible for allowing the time to pass without taking full advantage of the intensity of this wave.
To further flog the analogy, the point has now been reached where idealism is less a sail and more an anchor.
In the pragmatic and intersecting worlds of politics and economics realists enjoy the greatest success. Idealism can be a force for change, but if it fails to take solid form then idealism is a concept with an expiration date.
This appears to be a sticking point for many avid Occupy-ers who proudly exclaim that no leader, no selected committee, no group should be allowed to speak for them at the table.
Instead, many advocates are so invested that they view any critique of the movement’s actions as a direct attack on the substance of the message (remember, “I support the soldiers, not the war”). Shooting the messenger is counterproductive.
The Occupy movement needs to find its next step without alienating a huge percentage of the 99% it claims to represent. There are many of us–a legion of citizens more comfortable with a remote control than a protest sign–who have heard your message. And we like what we hear.
Now we are just waiting to see the plan.