Folks have been pressuring me to write something about the Occupation phenomenon we see blossoming across the country.

They thankfully fall short of asking me to shepherd the movement, to insert myself into the precarious politics of the situation at the San Luis Obispo courthouse, where every evening seems perfumed with that decades-old combination of cigarette smoke and trepidation over impending escalation and aggression on the part of the civil authorities. Rather, it seems an entertainment of the resounding pathos of these Occupiers is a sort of litmus test for not just liberal journalists these days, but for all political thinkers as well.

I hope I can respond to all the interest without having to dwell too much on my own sympathies with the movement; that massive corporations and the nefarious “Bohemian Club” power-elite types who pull their strings have an undue influence on our democracy and our society at large is, I hope, grossly self-evident in this young century. And regardless of what persuasion I could muster for their movement, I sense a broad cultural resonance with the Occupiers. Though their aims are sundry, the simplicity of their sentiments and their eagerness to herald them and even, for many, if calamity strikes, spend an evening in custody for them ought to register with Americans as the fervent patriotism of our generation.

But it is also my hope I’ll earn the Occupiers’ forgiveness for criticizing their movement in some respects. Namely, I see a sluggishness among them to respond to the media’s largely inaccurate deprecations — that they comprise solely hippie phantasms of the 1960s, that they recruit the homeless to distribute drugs and alcohol, that they deface public infrastructure, and other similar nonsense.

A public relations makeover that downplays countercultural sentiment while stressing coherence and diversity, I suspect, would do the movement good in the mainstream news, where it seems to have nowhere to go but up. If the only obstruction to the movement’s growing dignity is its rhetorical sympathies with the punk neoliberalism of the 1970s, I propose that a positive and congenial campaign would turn more heads. The message ought not to stress hatred of corporations but an intolerance for the un-Americanism of their excessive freedoms and influence.

Given the anarchic distribution of the movement’s organization, which relies principally on post-postmodern infrastructure such as social networks, its success would be the first of its kind in America. Please pardon my cynicism, but to expect Occupy Wall Street (OWS) to imitate this year’s liberal triumphs in the Middle East is a naive overreach. Perhaps it is high time for a movement to produce a symbolic leadership — their Martin Luther King, Jr., their Ghandi, their Jesus — which, at the very least, would provide for the television cameras a suit-wearing figure to focus on.

Though I strongly feel, if ever there was a liberal reform movement with a real shot at success, it’s this one we see in front of us, I simply cannot imagine a victory scenario without the President shaking somebody’s hand on the steps of the Capitol.

By enumerating the movement’s strengths and by downplaying its weaknesses, a popular leader would prove radically valuable.

I find it tantalizing to imagine the great speeches studied by future generations of schoolchildren might contain this leader’s praise of OWS’s diversity, truly its greatest strength; its rhetoric will welcome the police as compatriots in the 99 percent, not demonize them as hired guns in the pocket of J.P. Morgan-Chase. Despite this being the tragic case in New York and other cities, rhe speeches will deflate the counter-culturalism endemic to the GOP’s media zeitgeists, and they will above all illustrate for Americans the fundamental optimism and good intentions at the movement’s core.

Fortunately all these criticisms are already well at the heart of the movement’s group consciousness, Robert Brewer — a local nurse and volunteer fireman — assured me when I visited the San Luis Obispo courthouse this weekend. The Occupiers understand themselves as elements in a continuing process. Theirs is no mere revolt, and they intend to exert their influence on the political sphere well into the future.

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