Ever since the winter hit the US the Occupy Movement that many have now claimed dead has been very much alive. Many main stream media outlets refute this claim with questions such as why have their numbers dwindled in the streets, and where is the change that was their clarion call? These questions have some legitimacy, however the main stream media once again has got it wrong. Fox News and other right wing media networks compare the movement to hippies looking for hand outs or spoiled entitled ignorant kids who don't understand how the world works. They have done this to discredit the movement and to detract from people hearing the actual message of Occupy. These same media outlets also have a habit of comparing the Occupy Movement to the Tea Party movement of 2009-2010. The Tea Party was a group of people that had sympathetic views to the right wing and therefore became their darling and could do no wrong. It was a "grassroots" mobilization of people with the aim of restoring America to the good old days. These media outlets see Occupy as such a group of people, a "grassroots" mobilization of people centered around a common theme of fairness and equal opportunity; social justice. There are some similarities between the Occupy Movement and the Tea Party movement to be found. However there is one key element that can allow a glimpse into the future, of what America is to become. This key element, this key variable that the main stream media has yet to pick up on the significance of is the difference in demographics between the Tea Party and Occupy.
The Tea Party is made up of individuals who are, on the whole, 50-75 years old, Caucasian, conservative, devout Christians, and registered Republicans. There are no doubt independents, young people, even minorities such as African Americans and Latinos. Yet, the overwhelming majority of the Tea Party is of the same single demographic, old white christian conservative men.
The Occupy Movement is comprised of individuals of all races religions cultures and socioeconomic status. The average age of a Occupier is anywhere from 25-30 years old, has $75,000 in student loans, no job due to the recession, and are stuck treading water on the fringe of society, waiting to have their opportunity. They feel alienated and deceived; the world they were promised would be there when they came of age had gone to dust right in their hands. Meanwhile those at the top of the socioeconomic latter were doing better than ever before and were hardly touched by the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression. The world was askew. This is your average occupier.
The picture that comes into view when taking a step back from the scrum is that of two different generations with two different sets of morals with two sets of different ideas for what they want America to be. The Tea Party only came about due to the fact that the system that they had helped create with Reagan, one based on trickle down economics combined with Christian piety and social values was being seriously questioned and refuted by the majority of the American public. When President Obama was elected with a "super-majority" in Congress the generation that had put into place the system for the past 30-40 years went up in arms, literally.
Each generation attempts to create a society that emulates their own nostalgic childhood. For the baby boomers this period was the 1950's, America's most prosperous time up till now in all of US history. This was not due to many of the reasons that those on the right claim such as, religious virtue in government, family values, economic fairness, and no abortions or gays in the military or trying to get married. These were all cultural norms back then which have since changed, Cultural norms naturally change with each passing generation. After all each generation grows up in a different time period in which society is not identical to their parents ensuring variation in cultural norms. The period that the Tea Party, and the Republican Party has deified, the 1950's, is the polar opposite of what the Occupiers hold to be their self evident truths, their cultural norms.
The Occupiers grew up in the 80's and 90's, when economic opportunity was not great but still held hope. All you needed was a magical piece of paper that cost often over $100,000 from and you were in the door, opportunity redeemed. Roe v Wade was the law of the land and women were in the workplace not at home with the kids. Religion in the US had taken on an extreme form in the evangelical movement turning off many kids from the ideas and practices of the faith. There were also numerous scandals that erupted over the Catholic Church and other religious entities that made them hypocritical and fallible in this generation's eyes. Due to the changing cultural norms over time, the Occupiers generation saw for the first time in human history their peers, kids, coming out of the closet and telling the world who they were. They grew up with peers that were outwardly gay, and they saw nothing wrong with that.The values that the Occupiers hold, the America that they see as their future is in direct opposition to that of their parents, that of the status quo which the baby boomers created for the Occupiers.
What the media and most of America has failed to see is that their view of the Occupy Movement is no different than that of their parent's opinion, the greatest generation, of their own backlash to the status quo in the 1960s and 1970s. The "greatest generation" thought that the values embodied by their children would lead America down the wrong path and would consequentially lead to the loss of America's moral superiority and its position on the world stage. They did not like the America that they saw coming down the road at them ushered in by their children, just as the baby boomers now do not like the America they see glimmering in their children's eyes. The Occupy Movement is the body that will lead the charge to change America to the upcoming generations values beliefs and cultural norms. With every passing generation comes a conflict between the old and the new for power over society. It is predictable enough to set your watch by. The clash of the generations is coming to fruition with the Occupy Movement fighting for their vision of America, while the Tea Party clings onto increasingly less and less power attempting to maintain the system and the America they created.
Occupy is the embodiment of what the youth wants America to be. The Tea Party and the majority of politicians spearheaded by the Republican party is the defender of the status quo; and if they had their way there would be some big changes in the size of government and other social policies. This is the ideological battle that is being waged right now, and America is blind to it. Those atop the GOP are keenly aware of it; how often have they claimed this election is for the soul of America? The reason that talking point is used so often by those on the right is because they believe, and rightfully so, if they do not control the reigns that the vision of America epitomized in the Occupy Movement will come to be and America will go ithe way of the Dodo. This is their view because for America to succeed it needs to be exactly how they remembered it was as a kid in the 1950's. The America their children are embracing is as far from that as possible leading to the destruction of the United States. This line of thought is absurd. Just as the generational conflict between the baby boomers and the greatest generation did not cause the downfall of America nor will the schism between the baby boomers and the occupiers. Some values trumpeted by the Occupy Movement will become societal norms. Meanwhile others that they also hold near and dear to their heart will fall by the wayside and not be able to trump the status quo. This has happened with every single generation. Some values are adopted while others are not, the same will be true for the Occupiers values and social constructs and norms. To claim that the state of America is in jeopardy due to a generational conflict is as genuine as a politician making a campaign promise.
The reason that the media and all of the pundits and critics are wrong when they say Occupy is dead or is dying is due to one overwhelming factor that a medium would have a hard time predicting. Before the Occupy Movement was born the upcoming generation had a pretty perfect upbringing, in regards of economic social and national stability. There were no economic down turns, no social injustices that led people into the streets, they had little to no adversity on a macroscopic level. Due to this easy upbringing the younger generation was extremely complacent, did not question the status quo, and had no unifying wrong to right, no cause de celeb to unite them. On the whole the generation was labeled as entitled spoiled lazy and apathetic. This was directly due to the lack of adversity on a macroscopic scale this generation experienced growing up. Truth be told the baby boomer generation was looked upon the exact same way by their parents as they do on their children. It was not until the economic crash and great recession did this younger generation have a reason to unify, speak their dissent, and fight for what they viewed as morally right against the status quo. Without the economic crash and great recession the upcoming generation would have never unified to the level they have and created a platform in which they can more effectively fight for their vision of America against the status quo. Not even the attacks on 9/11, which every single person of this younger generation can tell you where they were when it happened, had the ability to unite the upcoming generation to the level of activism they currently express.
It is this cohesiveness that will keep the bonds together of the Occupy Movement over time. It may morph into new forms but the values and the vision of America that the Occupiers have embodied will remain until it is their time to pass like every generation before it. It is hard not to run into someone who is 35 and under who does not have a mountain of student debt and feels disenfranchised due to the lack of opportunity. The America that their parents had promised would be there if they did the right things, if they went to college and got a degree that they would have a job waiting for them in the real world when they graduated, was gone. It is this sense of betrayal and unfairness that unites the Occupy Movement. One of their founding principles ins solidarity. It has become a greeting between Occupiers almost like a secret handshake, or a made up language that only a certain group of people know. This strong emotional connection is amplified by the fact that the group representing this grievous injustice is the youth. Not only does youth bring vitality and vigor to a movement but it also brings longevity. The entity that the Occupiers are opposing are 50-75 years old. Within the next 25 years the majority of the baby boomer generation will join their parents and no longer be of this world, leaving the Occupiers at the helm. The values of the youth always outlast that of their parent's due to timing. Whomever is born last will most likely outlive those born before and therefore so will their values. The Occupy Movement literally cannot die because the generation that embodies it is younger than the group that they are engaged with for the future of America and what it will look like. Therefore no matter how many media outlets pundits or critics claim that the Occupy Movement is dead, they are dead wrong.
The Occupy Movement has become more than the protests, it has become more than the youth speaking out against the lack of opportunity and injustice that has been done to them. The Occupy Movement has become a principle, an idea, that people come before money politics or anything else in this life. That when there is a grievance of the people it has the right to be heard and not drowned out by lawyers and special interest groups.That when the people are harmed by a corporation, which is not a person according to this group, they have the right for due compensation and rightful restitution instead of being smothered in legal proceedings and fees that only the wealthiest among us can afford, with no promise of success. The Occupy Movement has become the idea that We the people come first not We the special interests. After all, the most special interest for the government of the United States is it's people so we should be treated as such. People are mortal; we were all born and we will all die. Movement's such as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street are groups of people and because of this unity can often hold together a cause much longer than one person's life span. However, they are still mortal, they can and will still die at one point in time in the future. Idea's on the other hand are bullet proof.
The Occupy Movement has reached the stage where it no longer needs the people on the streets to stay alive. It has become an idea, a call for justice, a unifying principle that a generation embodies and personifies. No matter bombs and bullets slung at the Occupiers, whether defaming them via character assassination attempts or by forcible arrest, with just a skosh of pepper spray, Occupy will live on. The values and vision of America that are expressed will come to be in some fashion. The Occupy Movement has imprinted a set of values and beliefs upon a generation due to the realities they see and face. This led to solidarity amongst this generation creating a set of principles and ideas that have now become the Occupy Movement. This is why Occupy can't die. This is why Occupy is so important and gives us a glimpse into the America that is yet to be. Occupy is their American dream, it is their vision of America, it is their ideology. Just as the GOP, Tea Party, and establishment politicians fight for the status quo because it is their ideology based on their views, the Occupiers not only have their grievances and unified outrage. They have a platform in which they can fight for real change and having a better chance to make their vision of America and not have to compromise quite so much, like their parents.So the next time someone tries to say that Occupy is dead or dying or doesn't matter just remember to make one simple remark. What did your parents think of all the social and political strife during the late 60's and 70's as well as the counter culture revolution... and how is that different from Occupy right now... the changed from that "revolution" are still with us today, and in the future the same will be true about Occupy.