Are We the 99%?on March 5, 2012 at 12:01 am
Andreas Rau, a Rochester-based political drifter and contributing blogger to the Democrat & Chronicle, has posted an editorial that hails the imminent demise of Occupy Rochester’s Washington Square Park encampment by mayoral fiat on March 11.
And although it is clear that Rau has not spent even the lifespan of a quantum particle amongst Occupy (or else he would know that while Alex White is a leader amongst us, he is not OccRoc’s “leader”, de facto or otherwise) he nevertheless deigns to speak for Rochester’s masses, who he claims have had enough of the “eyesore” that is Occupy Rochester’s encampment, at best a modest distraction for commuters from business as usual.
By choosing to represent for the 99%, however, Rau has declared himself a fellow traveller with Occupy. Welcome, brother!
Beneath Rau’s scorn there is clear regret at Occupy’s aimlessness. Perhaps it is Rau’s alleged history with the SDS that prompts him (a Republican) to lament, albeit hatefully, the waning of Occupy. After all, if Rau’s opinion of the temperature of the 99% is accurate, his two cents are hardly needed.
“Unfortunately for the “occupiers,” Rochester has gotten bored with the tiresome spectacle of “Occupy Rochester” in Washington Square Park,” he writes.“They ought to thank the mayor who now is for putting out of its misery a poorly directed, poorly produced, poorly acted and poorly attended slapstick comedy whose curtain should have been rung down months ago.”
Coming from a man whose own political party has descended into pure shtick, these sentiments could easily be dismissed by Occupiers as garden-variety cranksterism. But Occupy Rochester had better take Rau’s sentiment’s to heart, for without attending a single GA, Rau has pegged Occupy Rochester perfectly.
Now in its seventh month as a nationwide movement, the ejaculation of enthusiasm that birthed Occupations in city parks across the country and even overseas has dissipated. The movement has been met with predictable resistance from law enforcement and city governments, resulting in a near-total loss of landed Occupations. Rochester remains one of the few encampments left, but the camp is often absent of protesters, although its membership continues to be engaged in a variety of outreach initiatives.
Therein lies the problem. Occupy Rochester is riven with micro-agendas, splitting its time between anti-fracking, prison reform, new-agey health fairs, and so on. It has lost sight of a goal that will legitimize it’s continued presence in Washington Square Park, and that can resonate with the public at large. And while a strong sense of organization remains in the form of the horizontal democratic structure that Occupy has established to govern itself, the goal of actually occupying their site has drifted from the minds of the local branch of the movement. This would be acceptable if it were part of a plan, but it is simply entropy.
Fortunately, this erosion of purpose has not gone unnoticed within the ranks. Some wish to continue the Occupation indefinitely, but have not put in the shoe leather necessary to acquire anything like the political leverage that would make this possible. Others would have it simply go out with a bang on March 11th, even preferring a forced eviction to an orderly withdrawal. But it is hard to see that as anything but a pyrrhic victory. Has the nation shed any tears for the evicted rabble of the now scrubbed and buffed Zucotti Park?
Other options that are available have yet to be explored, however. The first is that, contrary to Andreas Rau’s fevered imagination, Mayor Richards has in fact accommodated Occupy before, and has hinted his willingness to do so again. What he desires, or so he claims, is an end date where OccRoc will declare mission accomplished and the world can return to normal.
So the possibility of pushing off the day of reckoning another month or so is there. But that leaves it in Occupy Rochester’s hands to decide what goal, if any, they can put their continued Occupation to. To put this in the sort of painful poetry that Rau himself enjoys, the locus needs a focus.
A focal point is on the horizon, that being the upcoming Republican State Convention. With the Republican party drowning in its own bile, with organizations like ALEC now standing naked as prime movers working with Republicans to put more of our government in corporate hands, how can Occupy Rochester not make this moment the lodestar of its existence?
Occupy can also show the city where their Democrats really stand in this time of decision. One thing you can be sure of is that Adam McFadden, Lovely Warren and the rest of the City Council will not be standing arm-and-arm with Occupy as they rally the progressive base to meet the Republicans. The Democrats have been quite cool towards this tea party within the liberal rank-and-file, as well they should, since the bloodless inertia of the Democrats is visible to anyone who is not distracted by matters of contraception. The Democrats are not willing to hit the pavement when they are out of power, how much less should we expect of them when they have a White House to keep?
And as for our Democratic mayor, a man so wealthy that his stools probably contain more precious metal than a shot of Goldschläger, and who took the throne through something less than a fully democratic process, if he isn’t the symbol of what Occupy stands against, who is?
Only a curmudgeonly asshole could actually cheer for a return to the muffled voice of the status quo. Here, then, is what Occupy should do regarding it’s March 11th ouster.
First, by any means necsessary, get the City Council membership on record as either pro or anti Occupy. Simply “are you with us or against us? “With” means you are ready to support Occupy staying in the park for at least one more extension of the contract.
Against means get ready for a rough ride, gang, as Occupy raises holy hell showing the citizens of Rochester that while Republicans will tie themselves into pretzels to protect every wealthy, felonius fuck in Creation, Rochester’s Blue State Liberal Progressive Civil Rights Beneficiaries won’t lift a finger to help a cause based on defending the Holy Middle Class.
Assuming that this tact works, if the weight of the City Council’s support can sway Richards, then on March 27th every Occupier and their mother should show up at City Council to present a short agenda of items that anyone who isn’t a billionaire and who doesn’t want a transvaginal probe shoved between their legs should have no problem endorsing. Then they take a People’s Vote in front of the Council to prove that these are the things that the 99% actually do want.
And one of them will be a new Congressman.
That good enough for you, Andreas?