NY Times’ Carr: Occupy Wall Street at a ‘Tipping Point’

David Carr advises the movement on its political future

The Gray Lady has Occupy Wall Street on the brain.

The New York Times’ two most prominent media writers – columnist David Carr and reporter Brian Stelter – both wrote about the protest movement on Monday.

While Stelter wrote about the attention paid to the media's coverage of the movement – the press can’t seem to win that battle — Carr wondered aloud about the future of the protests, sure to “become more of an idea than a place.”

Prompted by the protesters’ eviction from their headquarters in Zuccotti Park – courtesy of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg – Carr believes the movement is at a “tipping point.” Even the members of the movement know it.

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Occupy Wall Street left many all revved up with no place to go. In addition to the 5 W’s — who, what, when, where and why — the media are obsessed with a sixth: what’s next? Occupy Wall Street, for all its appeal as a story, is very hard to roll forward.“

Though many have criticized Occupy for not having a concrete set of goals, Carr comes to the conclusion that it’s okay to be unsure of what’s next.

None of our politicians have a clue either.

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“The president has primed the pump over and over with borrowed federal largess and still jobs refuse to flow. The myriad Republican debates have become a kind of random gaffe generator with little in the way of serious public proposals. And by the way, there’s another term for a gathering of politically committed people who make a lot of speeches and argue endlessly over process without producing much in the way of solutions: Congress."

Yet while Carr may find the protesters' lack of leadership and refusal to pander to the traditional political process “charming,” he also suggests that continuing in the same vein will render the movement ineffectual when it comes to having a lasting influence on society.

The civil rights movement acknowledged the importance of the political process in seeking an unencumbered right to vote. In refusing to the play the politics whatsoever, the Occupy protesters preach to the choir rather than impacting a wider swath of the populace.

This is not to say Occupy must abandon its message of inequality and anti-corruption, but even Carr, who rose to his mighty media post through unorthodox channels, notes that politics is how things get done in this country.

That is why Occupy must try to impact the next election – as the Tea Party did in 2010 – or suffer for it.

“Regardless of how the movement proceeds now that it is not gathered around campfires, its impact on the debate could be lasting and significant,” Carr wrote. “If the coming election ends up being framed in terms of “fairness,” the people who took to the streets, battled the police and sat through those endless general assembly meetings will know that even though their tents are gone, their footprint remains.”