In restaurants that run Fox News the whole day long, you can’t avoid self-appointed experts asking that question about the Occupiers. There are as many answers as there are people IN Occupy, all correct answers, and probably a plethora of answers from people OUTSIDE of Occupy, answers with varying degrees of credibility largely depending on the source. But despite TV talking heads endlessly pretending not to know what is going on, there is some value in contemplating the answer, for yourself at least: What do you want Occupy to accomplish?
It came to me last night just before I fell asleep, exactly what I want Occupy to undertake and (with luck) achieve: I want them to establish, in this current chaotic age we are enduring, that we really do have the rights of assembly and petition. The last clause of the First Amendment was not tacked on the end for literary balance, or to annoy students memorizing the Bill of Rights: it is there to guarantee that we the people have the right “… peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” It means just what it says. It means peaceable assemblies should not be cleared out of public spaces by the police. It means that it doesn’t matter if, say, Mayor Bloomberg thinks our grievances are legitimate… we have a right to voice them in public, and he, in his role as the executive member of his local government, has an obligation to listen. If Occupy does nothing other than establish the rights of assembly and petition, it will have performed a great service, whatever economic justice it manages or economic injustice it staves off. Without assembly and petition, we are toast, burnt and with no butter.
My thoughts are with the 99 percent in Oakland and all around the world today. Do not let them take you for granted!