6 ) Revolution Is a Poor Alternative to Participation
The notion that the political system is broken seems to be a keynote of the Occupy movement. In the most recent Caux Round Table debate between the Tea Party and Occupy, the eldest Occupier stressed this idea. The people are not being served by their government, he claimed.
Cited was a local controversy over public-funding for a new Vikings stadium. The Minnesota Twins benefited from the construction of a new stadium a few short years ago in a scheme where officials cut voters out of the process because they knew a referendum would sink the playground for millionaires. The same process is occurring today on behalf of the Vikings. The Occupier pointed to the example as an indication that government is largely detached from the people it is constituted to serve.
Tea Partiers are likely to agree with that sentiment. However, a key difference between the movements is that Tea Partiers retain hope for restoration within the existing political structure, while many Occupiers are revolutionaries who believe the system is beyond repair and requires fundamental radical change.
The problem with the broken system sentiment is that it leaves us with nowhere to go. Either we roll over and resign ourselves to the status quo, or we engage in some undefined revolution. Revolution is a drastic measure, inherently violent and unpredictable. As a means of political change, revolution ought to be the last arrow in our quiver. We first ought to exhaust every other option.
In 2010, voter turnout in the general election was a dismal 41%. Primary election turnout averages in the teens. The average man on the street has no idea what a caucus is. Even those who participate in party politics are loathe to stay through an entire convention to hold party officers accountable and steer platforms, constitutions, and rules. Excepting for paid lobbyists and union-organized astroturf, legislative galleries and hearing rooms are wastelands. Citizens rarely take it upon themselves to follow or testify in the legislative process. The media only covers the most easily demagogued issues, pimping divisiveness rather than informing the citizenry. In a country with such abysmal participation and interest in the political process, it cannot be seriously argued that the system is broken. The system is working just fine for those who show up and utilize it. Until the people get off their collective duff and start making use of the non-violent and lawful tools at their disposal, arguing for revolution is a cop-out which diverts attention from genuine opportunities for activism to irresponsible calls for radical upheaval.
When Occupiers search their souls and ask themselves what the consequences of revolution might be to themselves and their loved ones, they may begin to realize that there is an easier if less sexy way to affect change.