Advice for the Occupiers from a Tea Partier
Hello, fellow protesters -- I'd like to offer some advice, in the spirit of camaraderie for your ongoing demonstrations. You've been doing things in protests we Tea Partiers never did and you're having experiences I am unfamiliar with. I think perhaps I can offer some advice to stop these events from occurring. I see you've been having some trouble with the cops telling you to break it up and go home and then, when you don't, they shoot tear gas into the crowd and swarm in and bust skulls.
We never had that at the Tea Party protests even though at some Tea Party events, some folks showed up packing heat, which you would think is more than reason enough for cops to come in and shut it down. They never did, though, and there are probably several things we did that you haven't been successful at implementing. What follows are some things we did that assured a tear gas- and baton-free event, and I offer them up simply as friendly advice.
1) Get permits. I know it's a bit of a pain and subtracts from your feeling of impromptu, grassroots, screw-the-system activism, but seriously, we have certain rules in place to help keep order and protect people from uncontrollable situations that get out of hand. Plus it gives those "pigs" (do you hippies still call cops "pigs"?) one less reason to roust you.
2) Police yourselves. I realize that part of your message is screw the system and you believe that folks should be able to do whatever, whenever and wherever they feel like it, but the fact of the matter is that illegal drugs are illegal drugs, and the feeling of power you may derive from having an "eff 'em -- just let them try to arrest me" attitude doesn't help your cause. People out here are calling you dirty hippies. You should work to get the general public on your side, not just the disaffected stoners, unemployed baristas, and out-of-work philosophy majors.
3) Have actual grievances with proposed solutions. "Destroy capitalism" may sound fine in the abstract and look great sharpied across your girlfriend's torso, but it's really not a grievance. Honestly, I have seen little beyond the standard communist sloganeering and heard little beyond a lot of talk about "unifying" (what you're unifying against and who is supposed to unify has also slipped my grasp), and frankly, after a month and more of protesting, I would think some of you could have come together and put in place a few talking points at least. While you're at it, be consistent! Calling for the Koch brothers to not support politicians and causes while not calling for Soros to do the same only shows your true agenda.
4) Find someone who is articulate and reasonably dressed to be your spokesperson. Having someone with wild hair that looks filthy, wearing a shirt with Che Guevara on it, and holding a sign that says "eat the rich" is probably not the best way to go to engender sympathy in the community at large. You may not think about it, but most of the people who watch the news and see you ranting about inequality probably just got home from a long day at work in the corporate world you're wanting to destroy, so getting those folks on your side would go a long way in helping you.
5) Hygiene! Learn it. Employ it. Looking like a modern version of Haight Ashbury circa 1967 may give you credibility at the coffee shop where you hang out and rail against the world, but it just makes you look like a dirty hippie on TV and in newspaper photos. Perhaps if you got a haircut and wore a suit and looked more like those you want to destroy, some people may be fooled into thinking you have a point. (But again, you must first have an actual grievance and a proposed solution before that's really going to happen. See point #3.)
6) Quit playing the drums. I know it's satisfying to bang your bongos, but seriously, it's monotonous and rather childish, which also happens to be the same description most thinking people give to your ideas as a whole.
7) Stop camping out. Bunches of people are saying, "Why don't these folks occupy a shower and a job?" (hearkening back to #5), and when you camp out for weeks, they don't think you're committed to a cause -- they think you're a lazy bum who doesn't have the 2 dollars a day it costs to camp in a campground. You never saw the Tea Party camping out. Granted, we Tea Parties weren't in the same boat as you Occupy kids; in other words, we had more at home waiting on us than an empty basement and a freezer full of Hot Pockets. We had, you know, responsibilities and homes and families to care for, jobs to go to, and, generally, you know...a life.
8) Listen to the cops. When they say leave, leave. Cops have a tendency to tell you only things you really need to know, and "disperse" is generally followed by tear gas canisters -- and, if you don't get the message at that point, batons swinging through the smoke. Face it: you kids don't have the knowledge or the guts to actually fight someone; in fact, part of your whole schtick is "war is not the answer" and "violence doesn't solve problems," but the truth is that it does, and the cops know it.
If you want to fight the system -- the very system, by the way, that has given you the freedom to sit around in a tent in the middle of major American cities for weeks on end and not die of starvation or exposure -- try to do it the old-fashioned way.
Hire a lobbyist.
Kender MacGowan blogs at kendersmusings.blogspot.com.