COMMENTARY: 'Occupy' Movement Is a Failure

By Joseph J. Honick
Joseph J. Honick
Joseph J. Honick

“Occupy” is a failure and it needn’t have been.

As a longtime supporter of strong public expression by demonstrations, marches and other means on major issues to the nation and the world, I can only conclude the so called “Occupy” movement is nothing more than a failure.

Worse, it is and was a necessary effort that turned into little more than a well publicized nuisance to most places.

I am not only disappointed that this has occurred, but, as with many others, I am offended to a great extent by what this may have done to the demonstration concept elsewhere.

So what is it that has been so counterproductive despite all the hype here and around the world? After all, in most of the so-called “liberal and progressive” media, we are daily treated to the trumpets of the spread of “Occupy”?

Here, in a few nutshells, is what has turned a potentially useful movement into a major combination bore and irritant:

1. No clear message: beyond a lot of yelling, screaming and complaining, hardly any, if any, participants could tell willing media what the message was or is;

2. No leadership: there is no central sense of identifiable leadership, if any, either locally or nationally and certainly not internationally. Result: neither the public nor media already occupied with political campaigns have anywhere to go for the message if one actually exists.

Actually, I raised the possibility of such displays of dissatisfaction some months ago in a column that asked essentially: “Will we now fear parades?” ( idea growing out of the problems of heavy unemployment, home foreclosures and all the rest of the obvious concerns. My expectation was that someone or some group would do as many have before and produce a coherent message in writing and some accepted and respected leader personalities.

Neither has occurred.

Had either of these efforts been pursued effectively, the situation could have been more productive, perhaps even a major success.

Instead, in many places, crowds supposedly the “Occupy” crowd in each location have wound up leaving public spaces in a mess and causing the local taxpayers to have to clean it up. Along with such events have come conflicts with police and others that have often deteriorated to much damage and personal injury both to demonstrators and law enforcement.

Pardon the repetition, but having marched as a very young man in that historic parade of a million people when MLK made his “Dream speech, we all could see what it was for and how this massive collection of humanity treated the nation’s Capitol respectfully.

When gays and others have similarly demonstrated, the groups knew the value of the impressions they wanted to make and the message they wanted to convey to be successful.

None of this has been the case with the “Occupy” effort. There are those who see my view as cynical. I choose to see it as sadly realistic.

On a potentially positive side, I am told it has galvanized the participation of heretofore apolitical young people to become involved in the political process. But there is little time to see this potential pay-off.

Now that the nation is engulfed in a less than civilized presidential campaign that floods the media and international fiscal and physical conflict of major importance, the likelihood is most people couldn’t care less about moaning, groaning crowds who came too late to the party and without identities that could be deciphered.

As the nation and the world stand incoherently on the brink of still newer potential wars and major political debates, fewer and fewer of those who could have helped will pay much attention.

That reality is both realistic and costly to any movement that might have made a real difference.

* * *

Joseph J. Honick is president of GMA International in Bainbridge Island, Washington. He is a contributor to This commentary was originally published in O'Dwyer's PR Report and is reprinted by permission.