FAQ Occupy Movement
What is We Can Occupy?
What is the Occupy Movement About?
People are dissatisfied with how our country is being run and want fundamental, lasting change. Most supporters of the Occupy Movement want a restoration of the American promise of democracy and a level economic playing field, where hard work and talent (not cheating or rigged rules) are rewarded. That will require, among other things, reforming Wall Street and removing special interest influence from government.
Can You Be More Specific?
A look at some of the economic data shows many concrete reasons why people are angry and ready to protest. All across this country, folks are feeling the squeeze. Unemployment is rising. Those with jobs are worried about losing them or not getting enough hours. The costs of healthcare, food, housing and education are all rising, while wages for all but the very wealthiest have stagnated for decades.
Our political system has been bought out through a campaign financing and lobbying system that makes our politicians accountable to big corporations and union donors instead of American citizens.
The benefits of our economy are being redistributed to a very few, the top 1% of Americans who own 42% of the country’s financial wealth. Even as our nation’s wealth expanded (the pie got bigger!) only a very, very few Americans got more pie:
Even if you aren’t familiar with these facts and figures, the daily reality of many Americans feels tougher, tighter, and people have a strong sense that they’re getting a raw deal (they’re right). Big banks took huge bailouts from the taxpayers, yet they continue to foreclose on our neighbor’s homes while simultaneously paying gigantic bonuses to the same executives who caused the financial meltdown. Worse yet, these corporations continue to lobby against financial reform, and continued to get their way.
More and more our government seems to be under control of the corporations and people with extraordinary wealth, and ignores the rest of the citizens. That is why we are here. That is why we protest.
For more information and background on the political issues, see the FAQ/Issues page (more content added all the time).
What do you mean “We Are the 99%?”
The top 1% of Americans control between 40% and 50% of the nation’s wealth – and often use that wealth to undermine the democratic process. The 99% are you and me, and the majority of people who are ignored because we don’t have the luxury of spending billions to buy our politicians’ attentions. Democracy means that everyone’s voices are heard, not just those of a few with deep pockets. We invite the 99% to speak out for a economic and political systems that work for all people, not just a few.
What do you expect to accomplish by camping out?
Camping out alone will not solve all our problems, but it will provide visibility to a point of view that is generally ignored by our politicians, media and corporate interests. Gathering concerned citizens into one place allows us to discuss important issues that are not getting enough airtime.
Huge swaths of opinion in this country are currently being ignored and many of us have our own thoughts about how to get out of this mess we’re in. The first step has to be gathering together, either in downtown camps or our living rooms and discussing these issues. The next step is getting organized.
Are you anti-capitalist?
Not necessarily, though some individual Occupy supporters may be. On the whole, people believe in the American capitalist model, where competition and free enterprise spur innovation and invention. It is the American dream–if you work hard, have a great idea, and stick at it, you can prosper. There is value to the Horatio Alger story.
The Occupy Movement does critique unfettered capitalism, which has created an uneven playing field that lets the very few win by cheating and set the rules. The democratic process has been undermined by massive corporate spending and special interests. This has broken the American dream of equal opportunity for all and the promise of a government that acts for the benefit of all people.
Are you anti-corporation? Isn’t it hypocritical to be using iPhones and drinking Starbucks then?
This movement is not anti-corporation, rather it points to the problems of record wealth inequality and the way corporate interests warp the fabric of our democracy. There are lots of products that corporations and business provide that have made our lives better. We just want to make sure that corporations benefit the society as a whole, not only a select few.
“… the general sentiment is against the corporate role in government and the effects of this involvement (eg. legislation tailored to a small percentage of what is putatively a democracy, a lack of accountability for those with financial power). Few want Nikon, Sony, J. Crew, etc. to fail, they just want them to operate within our overnment and our economy in ways that benefit to totality of the population,”– ilovecharts.
Are you anarchists?
The Occupy Movement is rigorously inclusive. The 99% represents the entire spectrum of political beliefs, including anarchy. Most of the Occupiers are not anarchists and in fact truly believe that, with systemic and lasting change, the government and the economy can help solve many of the problems we face.
Are you hippies?
The hippie movement began in the 1960’s by youth who felt disenfranchised and unrepresented by their government. The Occupy Movement shares some beliefs with the youth of the 60’s but is much more broad, complex and connected. Occupiers who decide to camp represent a diverse group including businesspeople, college students, parents, blue collar workers, suburban homemakers and others.
The 99% have numerous frustrations and grievances; often, the descriptor “hippie” is used by opponents of the movement, in attempt to pigeon-hole and devalue people’s goals and hopes. Bill Maher’s editorial on calling protesters “hippies” hits on some great points–watch til the end! (warning: adult humor!)
Are you Socialists?
There is room in this movement for a host of political views including socialism, but it is not a “Socialist Movement”. Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Independents, and others are all involved. What brings all of these viewpoints together is the understanding that government has been co-opted by corporate money and the will to make a change in how the system works.
Are you anti-American?
If you head down to your local Occupation, you’ll likely see Veterans, who proudly served their country, American flags, and a sense that this system can work if we all work together.
There are things that aren’t perfect about America–there’s always room for improvement–but specific criticisms of our political system or culture shouldn’t be taken as “Anti-American”. That’s an easy way to try to discredit the hopes and aims of the 99%, but it’s not accurate.
Free speech, dissent, and working to fix your country because you love it and want it to be all that it once was and can be again isn’t anti-American; it’s pretty darned patriotic.
Are you against the police?
No. The police are part of the 99%, and there are police officers support the goals of the Occupy Movement (read more, here). They face the same struggles that a declining economy, corrupted political system and lack of accountability create for everyone else. We protest and “are against” any displays of unjust exertion of power and force. This is very different from being “against the police”.