It remains to be seen if the Occupy Los Angeles movement and it’s global counterparts will generate any future changes in economic and political policies.
What is certain is the polarizing viewpoints concerning the movement’s call to action—opponents deem the protests un-American, provoking class warfare through mob mentality, whereas supporters argue that their frustrated claims of an economically unequal society justify an international movement.
The most prominent criticism of the movement has been that protesters don’t even know what they’re protesting about; that they’re angry with their own financial situation and they’re taking it out on those who have prospered.
This belief couldn’t be more wrong; participants know exactly what they’re protesting about, but can’t sum up their numerous grievances in one neat, bumper-sticker slogan.
Many people are frustrated with income inequality; the majority of the country’s wealth lies in the hands of too few people, essentially eliminating a middle-class.
These people use their wealth to buy influence over politicians, a system recently made easier through the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United ruling, which lifted many restrictions on how corporations could spend money on political campaigns.
This underscores another grievance: as protesters object to the notion that corporations should be recognized as people. This corporate anthropomorphism only adds to the wealthy 1 percent’s influence over political bodies, and devalues constituent demands and union authority.
Finally, more and more people are in debt and are unemployed in a political environment that favors campaign donations and toeing party lines over the demands of the incensed 99 percent.
That isn’t to say that all of the wealthy 1 percent of America should be hated; many have gained their wealth through reputable means. This too is another misconception opponents of the Occupy movement have; that protesters’ frustrations are generated by their financial jealousy.
But what does anger the protesters is how many of the 1 percent gained their wealth through deceitful financial schemes that helped push us into the current economic crisis.
These same people were bailed out by taxpayers, yet they paid no price for inducing the economic recession. The Occupy LA movement—and its older sibling, Occupy Wall Street—can be summed up as frustration at the current state of American society. The protesters feel that politicians aren’t listening, and an international movement is the only way to have their voices heard.
Voting is the only solution—if politicians don’t respond to the peoples’ demands, they should be voted out. Maybe the movement will be prominent enough to get people off their butts and vote in droves. One can dream.