Andrew is the External VP of the NU College Republicans.
Is there any parallel between the Occupy movement and the Tea Party? Is it a drum circle of students who should be doing something more productive with their time? Both are relevant questions to ask when attempting to make any sense at all of the current Occupy movement. For over a week, haggard individuals from all over the region have camped out on the Rose Kennedy Greenway protesting corporate greed and economic inequality. Their unfocused effort is sure to accomplish little while testing the public’s patience and ignoring the importance of principles such as personal initiative and responsibility, as well as the good, old-fashioned American work ethic.
The proud, thunderous proclamations of the protesters, “This is what democracy looks like!” are washed away when those very same voices say that “it’s not so much about the demands, but using a real democratic process,” whatever that actually means. The Tea Party grew out of similar discord with the status quo of government activity, yet the Occupy participants, who are just as frustrated and angry, seem to be less organized, live where they protest, and rely on outside and non-participating supporters to assist them with basic hygiene. Further, the Tea Party has an organized and cohesive set of goals that consist of demanding policies of responsible, low taxation and limiting the power and size of government. The group is organized to the extent that they have succeeded in electing representatives to high office. The Occupy movement preaches the virtue of tax increases and the tenets of how corporations and rich people are inherently evil. Sound messy? It is.
So are these protesters drum-beating hipster students or are they something more? A good place to start would be at Northeastern University with the recent twelve o’clock “walk-out” last week. Roughly 100 students from the university met on Centennial Common to voice their grievances, and managed to attract some press attention.
Allow me to address some of my fellow peers’ comments and concerns. Victoria Porell, who helped organize Wednesday’s walkout, remarked to Boston’s NPR news station WBUR, “Students don’t have lobbyists.” While this is true, when you work for a company, that company most likely will. If your economic interests are tied to the company you work for, and that company is competitive, you will be represented just fine.
One of the participants, Alyssa, was quoted in the same news story saying, “I am a typical Northeastern student…When I graduate I’m going to have over $125,000 of loans, which is $1,500 a month starting six months after I graduate. I ask you, ‘How am I supposed to afford to live off of that?’” I would ask in response, how are you supposed to afford living off that mentality? Alyssa and other “typical” Northeastern students would do well to remember that they have come to college to get an education, acquire a talent or skill, and then seek an employer who can afford investing in their ability to make the company succeed.
Jon Phoenix, a fellow Political Science student, shared his perspective on what college is all about, “College was supposed to be the ‘be all, end all’. It’s supposed to be the place where no matter how crazy your background, you go into college, you come out, and you’re supposed to be guaranteed entry into the middle class.”
But the “be all”, and “end all” is not college, and certainly not how “crazy” your background in college was for the past four years, whatever you might have been doing. The “be all, end all” is you. Therefore if this hipster movement is to bring about a meaningful “change”, similar to the overall effectiveness the Teaparty has demonstrated, then it needs to do one of the following: (1) find an actual method or outlet that will realize their grievances; (2) clarify intended goals and unify all protestors to a single purpose of sorts, and; (3) if the first two fail, it would be wise to go home and start looking for any relevant job openings.