Editorial: Occupy movement needs organization and leadership

By Editorial Board

After exactly two months of protests, the Occupy Wall Street movement is no closer to accomplishing any sort of goal.

The movement started Sept. 17 when protesters tried pitching tents in front of the New York Stock Exchange to protest the uneven distribution of wealth in the U.S.

According to an Oct. 6 article in the Washington Post, in 2009, the wealthiest 1 percent held an average of 225 times the wealth of the average median household. This disparity led protesters to adopt the slogan “We are the 99 percent.”

According to the Occupy Wall Street website, “the occupations around the world are being organized using a non-binding, consensus-based, collective decision making tool known as a ‘people’s assembly.'”

This basis of organization is leading the movement no where. We understand the protesters are disillusioned by political leaders because they account for a portion of the 1 percent. However, this horizontal structure of leadership lacks organization, and without organization, they will never get anything done.

At this point, the protesters don’t really know what they want to result from these occupations and, unfortunately, people are sick of the news coverage.

According to a recent poll conducted by Public Policy Polling, “only 33 percent now say that they are supportive of its goals, compared to 45 percent who say they oppose them. That represents an 11-point shift in the wrong direction for the movement’s support compared to a month ago when 35 percent of voters said they supported it and 36 percent were opposed.”

Yes, wealth inequality is a problem. But how do we fix it? The demonstrators have no clear-cut goals.

Looking back on the history of successful social movements, like the civil rights movement, people didn’t just start out wanting to create radical change. They wanted to sit on a bus. They wanted to go to better schools. They wanted equality. Later, when they became more organized and rallied around a central leader, that’s when things started to change.

We realize the horizontal structure of the Occupy Wall Street movement was a popular mechanism used to draw in supporters, but this structure is unrealistic in the long term.

This movement desperately needs a leader who can clearly articulate the group’s goals. If you want to end the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, then say that. If you want better health care or job opportunities, then say that. If they don’t come together with some objectives soon, their movement won’t last through the winter.