I had occasion to be near Sixth and Jefferson Streets yesterday. This is one venue of the Louisville version of Occupy Wall Street.
I stopped by to see if anything was happening. A crowd of around 20-30 people were milling around some picnic tables, and some of these people were engaged in a General Assembly in which decisions about policy are made in an open forum. I was not close enough to hear what the particular issue was, and I was only catching the tail end of the process.
I did hear one man say he wanted to discuss Christopher Columbus, at which time I left to feed the parking meter. When I returned, he was, in fact, conducting a discussion about Columbus and the ill-effects his "discovery" had on the inhabitants of the New World.
While driving to Louisville I heard on the radio dismissive talk of the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon, primarily in New York, but a few other cities were singled out for criticism. The common refrain was "what do these people want?" The idea being that this protest or gathering is delegitimized because it has not produced a coherent manifesto of its purpose and intentions. It has not even endorsed a presidential campaign yet. And I feel fairly certain it has not lined up corporate sponsorships with any companies engaged in the sale of camping gear.
That criticism is unfair.
This movement is kind of like a cake being baked. At the moment the ingredients are being laid out on the table. Since it is being baked by loose knit "committees", some want chocolate, some want lemon, some want nuts, it is entirely too early to pass judgment on the cake's eventual value to and acceptance by the political diners who will behold it when it emerges from the oven.
Personally, I'm intrigued by the process. I am hopeful for meaningful results. (I'd like to see public financing of elections, the abandonment of the legal fiction of corporate personhood, a return to meaningful financial rules including the Glass Steagall Act, and a fair apportionment of tax burdens--that will do for starters)
And, I am grateful for the trouble these patriotic people are taking on our nation's behalf.
I anxiously await the cake's removal from the oven, because then it's time for the icing.