Why Campaigns Shouldn't Ignore the ‘Occupy’ Protests

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One Gen Y consultant makes the case for campaigns to embrace protestors and draws a parallel to the Arab Spring.


Any politician would be remiss to ignore the gathering storm that is the Occupy Wall Street movement.  

The traditional news media has been quick to trivialize it as a bunch of angry kids with too much time on their hands. The irony is they fail to see the direct correlation between the Occupy movement and the conditions that existed in the Middle East before revolution took hold.   

Many look at the Occupy protests as lacking a central focus; yet in their superficial analysis, they falsely characterize the movement’s main strength as a weakness.

Occupy Wall St. has managed to become a veritable Rorschach test for many forms of lament manifesting as a result of our current political conditions. Some look and see a group that is standing up to corporate control over the legislative process. Some see a group calling for nationalizing the banking system. Others see a group rallying for socialized medicine.   

Traditionally, this would have been troublesome for any political movement, as without a bumper sticker slogan it’s hard for the evening news to grasp your cause. But political movements no longer need the validation of the evening news to raise awareness and earn relevance.

Across the Middle East, we saw revolution spread in countries with state controlled media and governments that worked hard to suppress channels of communication to quash uprising. Despite those efforts, citizens were able to successfully use social media to spread the message of the revolution. It's exactly what we're seeing with the Occupy protests and it's where the movement gathers strength. 

With social media, the politically motivated have been able to streamline the process and reach their friends and a core of like-minded individuals with a message that is presumably relevant to them. By our nature, we tend to congregate around those with similar socio-economic standing, and therefore have the ability to influence dozens of friends or peers in an instant. 

Those same friends spread a targeted message to their group and influence the opinion of dozens of others. The result is a digital contagion effect that if modeled out to show how quickly it spreads would make the Ebola virus blush.

This is where the true genius of the Occupy Wall St movement comes into play. By serving as a vague umbrella, standing up for 99 percent of the population, it allows each individual to put their own spin on the movement and use social media to mobilize peers who agreee. The model is strikingly similar to the way revolution spread in the Middle East.


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4e04d3774bfd8609cef4d7478a676ac6?d=mm
GOPCampaigner


Wow. This is the worst, worst, worst idea ever. In what area/district would this micro-strategy ever work? I'm thinking, if you're running in a district solely composed of liberal professors and college students, you might have a thin chance of scraping by in an election, if it's THIS November.


As a 'youth engagement political consulting firm,' you can't deny the statistics that have said for decades that young people don't vote. (I'd post a link but I don't think this site accepts comments with links, sorry, maybe I can repost on my blog) Don't get me wrong, I used to think we were on an upswing ten years ago, I even did an in-depth study citing valid statistics, but time has proven that that's just not the case.


Additionally, the Gen Y'ers - the proper term is Millennials, or Millennial Generation, by the way - are graduating college and many have been in the workforce (or not) for 5-10 years now. They are PAYING TAXES and therefore have a much deeper level of understanding of how important smaller government and lower taxes are to improving the economy.


It's ridiculous to make a comparison between the revolution of the Middle East, in which there is legitimate and serious oppression being felt, and a group of protesters made up primarily of young adults who are still living at home with their enabling parents complaining that they aren't being handed everything anymore.


I would NOT recommend that any serious candidate for office, Republican or Democrat, touch this issue with a ten foot poll. For the vast majority of candidates (state and local), it should not be an issue at all - deal with your local politics. For national campaigns, this protest will fizzle long before November 2012, so you really don't want to hitch your wagon to that horse. It won't sustain an entire campaign.


4e04d3774bfd8609cef4d7478a676ac6?d=mm
Matt


I agree 100% with GOPCampaigner. What kind of idiot candidate throws his lot in with a group that tolerates the rampant drug use, hedonism, and public nudity/urination/defecation? At a time when Americans are yearning for responsible adult leadership, this is exactly the wrong advice to follow.


This New York based consultant should take a trip downtown and see what he's advising candidates to support. After taking a trip to see (and smell) this firsthand, I can confidently say that it's a public health disaster and I hope the mayor grows a set and shuts this thing down before someone dies.


I sense that this "consultant" is just an OWS fellow-traveler and is giving "advice" in a weak attempt to get their proto-fascist ideas accepted by mainstream politicians. Do not follow his advice.


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