I have a long history with ACORN, going back years before the O’Keefe/Giles video reports. While they were mostly on the periphery of my political life, starting in 2005 they became something I had to deal with regularly, and for an extended period even daily. This post isn’t about any of that. I mention to put in context my long-standing fascination with Wade Rathke, co-founder of ACORN. The man is simply the best at what he does.
Don’t get me wrong; there is much to dislike about him. His method of ‘community organizing’ preys on people’s fears and anxieties. They exacerbate and prolong racial tensions. And, his ultimate aim is a utopian marxist state. All that said, he is very good at what he does and understands progressive movements and how to create and maintain them better than just about anyone.
So, I was curious to read his recent take on the Occupy Movement:
Nonetheless, listening closely to the whole meeting, it was hard to escape the conclusion that as committed as many were, they were groping for a plan for the future. There was no consensus on that question, and really very little debate or discussion. Several people raised the issue during the “soapbox” session, which allows open mic griping that everyone can easily ignore. In fact most people left the room during that section to visit elsewhere in the coffeehouse.
As an organizer, I would venture to predict that there is a hard debate coming between occupants committed to a program and plan going forward and occupants committed to the process and trusting that something will emerge. Logically one would think that this sort of thing simply works itself out, but after listening to a 45 minute debate of sorts as they struggled to decide where to meet again twixt and tween the Plaza and our Fair Grinds Common Space, I wondered if that was possible or the group would simply split into various Occupy this and that’s without being able to sustain the Occupy core.
It’s possible to chalk this up to sour-grapes, criticizing a movement he didn’t help create. However, as someone who has spent a great deal of time reading the minutes of OccupyWallSt’s meeting minutes, I think Rathke is exactly right. There is no there, there beyond a slick focus-group tested marketing slogan. And you can’t build a real movement on a slogan.
If the Occupy crowd is starting to lose hard-core believers like Rathke, the rest of the democrat-media industrial complex can’t be far behind.