Lots of year-in-review posts flittering around these days, and quite a few people looking back at the latest force to enter the political scene. Nobody can argue that the Occupy Wall Street movement hasn't had an impact, but it's hard to argue that it hasn't stalled.
It took a couple years for the Tea Party Movement see their polling numbers begin to plummet, as people saw through the shared concern for a government that most people see as too big, ineffective and wasteful, and noticed that it was fundamentally a conservative to right-wing movement.
The same pattern is happening with the Occupy movement now, except it's happening faster. There are assuredly a ton of reasons why it's happening so much faster; I'd even say that part of it may come from the wariness people have from being disappointed with the Tea Party, which also claimed to "really" be the voice of the majority. But while the Tea Party followed the law the vast majority of the time, the Occupy movement types have flaunted the law all over the country, even going so far as to block regular people from going to work and counting anarchistic vandals among their crowds.
But all that really is a sideshow to the ideas behind the movement.
Merely sharing a set of concerns doesn't mean you are with someone politically. You can be concerned about the size of government and want to trim the fat, or you could go the libertarian route and want to shut the doors of whole departments of the executive branch. Similarly, you can be for making college more affordable, or expect the government to pay off student debt for people who spent tens of thousands on degrees that aren't worth much, or even call a college education a human right.
Regardless of where the Occupy movement decides to fall on issues, and even if it got well-organized overnight, remaining a protest movement that does not mobilize toward electing friendly politicians or enacting friendly legislation will get them nowhere. Protests are a means to an end—namely, bringing attention to a cause and rallying people around it. If you don't then harness that attention, and organize those rallied, the momentum goes away.
You can already sense this happening as you peruse the Facebook pages and websites for Occupy groups around the country. The vast majority of what they used to talk about was when to protest next, how to draw attention to their complaints. They've accomplished that. Any mention of trying to work with other organizations to further specific goals is often met with complaints that they can't—not with unions, special interest groups, or Democrats.
As the saying goes, organizing liberals is like herding cats. Perhaps what this shows is that organizing the far left is like herding stray alley cats.
Will they get their act together and buy into the system enough to push for supportive candidates and legislation, or will they choose to stay in second gear and merely be permanent rabblerousers and complainers?
Solomon Kleinsmith is a former nonprofit worker, serial social entrepreneur and strident centrist independent blogger from Omaha, Nebraska. His website, Rise of the Center, is the fastest growing blog targeting centrist independents and moderates.