November 15th, 2011
07:21 PM ET

Letters to the President #1030: 'The occupation continues'

Reporter's Note: There is nothing President Obama enjoys more than my daily letter to the White House. I’m almost sure of it.

Dear Mr. President,

Despite weeks of activism and headlines, especially after they were booted from that park in New York, I’m still not quite sure what to make of the Occupy protestors.

I understand that they are generally upset about the way power and wealth are divided in this country; as in, “way too few people have way too much of it, and the rest of us…uh…not so much.” I get their idea of gathering on and then holding ground as a way of drawing attention. Yet, I keep waiting for that “ah ha!” moment when I will hear one of them say, “Here are our demands,” or “This is our plan to make things better,” or “Gosh, it’s getting kind of cold out here. Hey gang, what do you say we adjourn and reconvene in…oh say, mid-May?” (Note to self: When picking protests, consider the Florida chapter.) Still, I’m not sure what they are all about.

Now, it is easy to see this as a weakness on their part; a sign that they don’t really have their act together, because after all, how can we give you what you want if you can’t even tell us what it is? But a colleague pointed out something that has changed my view on that. He said something along the lines of, “You know, lots of great movements begin in turmoil. People don’t really know what they want other than ‘something different.’ They know they are frustrated and feel cheated by the ‘status quo,’ so they just lean into the ‘status no.’ Such movements need time to figure themselves out.”

That statement really affected my view of the Occupy folks. It reminded me that all sorts of social groups, religions, businesses, 4-H clubs, and even White House Administrations have flailed around trying to settle on an agenda. So why should we expect an ad hoc group crouching in a park under nylon tents with cold pizza for dinner to have their whole plan ironed out? I’m not sure either one of the major political parties can even tell us what they want these days, and they’ve been working on their plans for decades…indoors!

Anyway, just a few thoughts for a Tuesday. Did you try to call earlier? I was on a conference call and I could not jump off, but I thought it might be your number on the caller ID. Let me know.


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Filed under: Letters to the President • Opinion • President Barack Obama • T1 • Tom Foreman
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