The Occupy Movement has existed for about two months, and during that brief tenure it has garnered worldwide attention for the demonstrations and protests in some of the largest cities in America. Indeed, the large crowds of occupiers in New York, Oakland, Los Angeles, and other large cities have captured the majority of the media’s attention because of the large number of protestors, but the movement is alive and well in every city in America even if the public is unaware of it. There are few, if any, areas of the country that have not experienced increased poverty and cuts to basic services while corporations and the wealthy receive entitlements and preferential treatment at the hands of Republicans, and regardless the size of a community, there are informed citizens who understand that the occupy movement can achieve real change at the local level.
It is true that large crowds in major cities attract attention from the media that smaller communities are incapable of matching based on sheer numbers, but the media does not vote and cannot be trusted to accurately report the events as they really happen; that is where small town America can make a difference. One of the primary goals of the occupy movement should be to enlist support from citizens who are victims of corporate greed, job losses, and cuts to services by Republicans in Congress and the appropriate place to start is every small town in the United States. Fortunately for America, one small city in California is setting an example for the rest of the nation to follow.
The small mountain community in California has a population of 4,666 residents that swells to 22,000-25,000 due to the high number of employees and tourists who enter the city daily. Politically, the city is decidedly conservative so witnessing a group of occupiers on the main street replete with signs supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement and the 99% was shocking. The group was peaceful and non-confrontational to pedestrian and vehicle traffic but their message was clear; “Occupy Wall Street is about JUSTICE and getting the Government back to the PEOPLE… There is no left or right, this is a PEACEFUL OCCUPATION! We are the 99%!”
The small town Occupy movement connected with local merchants to promote shopping at small, locally-owned businesses in an effort to shift attention away from corporate retail giants like Wal-Mart that are part of the degradation of the American worker. Many merchants on the main street posted signs in their windows that read; “If you really want to OCCUPY WALL STREET, do your holiday shopping at a small independent merchant.” Business owners from around the country have cited poor sales as the reason they are not hiring despite Republican claims that high taxes and prohibitive regulations have killed jobs, and by aligning with local merchants, the occupiers have tapped into a valuable ally in the war against corporate greed.
What small groups can teach the rest of the country is that occupying large public areas in tent cities is not necessary to draw attention to corporate malfeasance and injustice at the hands of Republicans. The diminutive group in California demonstrates for three hours each Saturday when traffic on the main street is at its peak, and besides peaceably demonstrating, they collect clothing and food to distribute to the less fortunate. Contrary to Republicans and Fox News that claim the occupiers are disgruntled students, lazy, and clueless, this small town occupy movement consists of retired professionals and working-class Americans who are well-versed in who is responsible to empowering corporate control of the government that rewards the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the 99%.
There is no reason why every community in America should not have an occupy movement to work for income equality and shared sacrifice. One of the goals of the movement should be to transition from a protest movement into a massive anti-corporate electoral movement that can put an end to corporate entitlements and control of the government. Polls have shown that Americans are fed up with the richest Americans controlling most of the wealth, and the occupy movement has an opportunity to educate the population as to which political party is working to create jobs, preserve crucial social services, and rein in corporate control of Congress. If occupiers spent time educating average Americans to the Republican agenda of more tax cuts for the wealthy, job-killing spending cuts, and obstruction of job creation legislation, the country would experience a change that will benefit the 99% for a change while still preserving a vibrant business environment.
Every city in America should have an occupy movement to draw attention to corporate injustice courtesy of the Republican Party, and it does not take massive occupations to inform the populace as to why their jobs are being outsourced, or their tax dollars are sent directly to the wealthy. If small groups of occupiers were strategically located near banks, state or federal representative’s offices, or on a main thoroughfare for a limited time during business hours, the Occupy movement would be transformed from a big city phenomenon into a true every-city populist movement. The Occupy Wall Street movement purports to represent the 99% of America that is suffering from Republican corporatists, but with every city in America holding their own demonstrations, no matter how small, occupiers will see the movement become a true voice of the people; that is how America wins.