If you live in the NYC area and watch the evening news, you might have the impression that Occupy Wall Street is the biggest thing to hit since Lady GaGa. Think again.
In a recent poll, just 17 percent of Americans say that they are following the protest closely – down from one in four in April. It is not surprising that more people followed the death of Steve Jobs than Occupy Wall Street…but more people are also following the situation in Afghanistan closely than OWS.
It seems to me that the OWS protest is more like organized labor’s inflatable rat than a real movement…you see it, and move on without engaging unless you are already a supporter.
Why? The protestors are certainly getting plenty of ink and air – which is the key criteria for legitimacy for many in my profession.
- Sustainable movements need a leader. A face for the cause. Would the Civil Rights movement of the 60s been the same without Martin Luther King Jr.?
- You have to be for Much like the broader, more generic protests of the 60s, it is clear that the OWS protestors are against “the establishment” – but they offer little in terms of specific recommendations. President Clinton pointed this out in a recent interview, and recommended that the protestors get behind the Obama Job Plan.
- They need defining moments that create a real connection with the broader population. Historically, these moments come from the missteps of the establishment, particularly law enforcement. One of the founders of the movement seems to think that the arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge are that moment – but I’m not sure that is sustainable. And I’m not sure jumping on the beat up Bank of America bandwagon will do it, either.
In totality, OWS needs a relevant, sustainable narrative, delivered by a credible and compelling spokesperson.