What Should the Occupy Movement Do Next? Back Elizabeth Warren.   

How to Make Government Work
Sept. 17 2012 5:43 PM

Occupy Wall Street Is a Year Old. Time To Grow Up.   

Protesters affiliated with Occupy Wall Street march in the Financial District on Monday in New York City.
Participants in the Occupy Wall Street protest take part in a rally to mark the one year anniversary of the movement in New York on Monday.

Photo by Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images.

Occupy Wall Street is only 1 year old, and yet its slogan—“We are the 99 percent”—has become ubiquitous. The movement has forced us to focus on issues of equity and fairness that had fallen off our political radar, even after the financial cataclysm of 2008. We are now scrutinizing tax policies that favor the wealthiest 1 percent, and we are finally asking harder questions about a financial sector that drove the economy into a ditch.

For an essentially—and indeed intentionally—disorganized group of folks to have such an enormous impact is quite an accomplishment; they are redefining and rebalancing our political discourse.
So to all those who are dissatisfied because the Occupy movement did not grow into the complete political theory or social agenda that some wished, I say: Give credit where credit is due. This is a great American success story.


But we do have to ask, "Now what?" A few sporadic protests on an anniversary do not substitute for a more meaningful agenda. So, here are two proposals.

First, a programmatic suggestion. Choose one important idea that is perhaps outside the confines of our ordinary political chatter, and place it on the agenda. My vote goes to Martin Wolf's proposal of a wealth tax—a very low tax on wealth that can be used to pay for much-needed government programs, reduce inequality, and lower tax rates on those who are really struggling.

Protesters affiliated with Occupy Wall Street march in the Financial District on Monday in New York City.
Protesters affiliated with Occupy Wall Street march in the Financial District on Monday in New York City.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Second, a political suggestion. The Occupy movement needs an organizing principle, and—just as the Tea Party did—it needs some actual measures of success. Choose one candidate whose agenda is squarely within that of the movement and make his or her electoral success a focal point. This will give structure, a way to measure and demonstrate success, and a point of leverage over time, as successful candidates enter government and become more responsive to the movement.

My first choice: Elizabeth Warren. Nobody out there better captures the ethos of what the moment is all about. But whoever and whatever cause they adopt, Occupy has to move on from last year's protests. A year is an eternity in politics—though less than a moment in history. But you can't survive long as a movement unless you push affirmative ideas, and start backing real candidates.

Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of the state of New York, hosts Viewpoint on Current TV. Follow @eliotspitzer on Twitter.



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.