Hey, Milwaukee, occupy this
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Real talk: I’m not into politics. I tend to ignore political stories on my Facebook feed in favor of stuff like this, and the only reason I bother voting in the presidential elections is to get my friends and loved ones off my back. I didn’t attend any of the protests in Madison, because, as Jon Stewart recently noted, I’m part of the majority of people with shit to do.
But this past Saturday afternoon, I didn’t have shit to do, so I checked out the “Occupy Milwaukee” rally. You may have heard of it. A bunch of people gathered in Zeidler Park, made a bunch of clever signs, chanted a bunch of clever slogans, and tried to change the world. It was all part of a larger movement inspired by the “Occupy Wall Street” protests, designed to bring about economic justice for the embattled “99 perent.” It was, as they say, a Festivus for the rest of us. It may or may not have worked.
I spent most of my time slouching around on the sidelines with other media types: photographers, bloggers, suit-wearing TV reporters, unimpressed cameramen. I took a few crummy cell phone pictures, tweeted a few crummy tweets, and soaked in the atmosphere. But as the crowd began to make its way from Zeidler Park to Chase Bank, I jumped in and joined the march. And for a few minutes, I understood why so many people get into this sort of thing: It’s fun, it’s sexy, and it feels like you’re changing the world. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment.
But now, in the cruel light of the (40-hour) workweek, it’s time to squabble over the details, and try to figure out what the protest meant, and what it accomplished. Frankly, post-game coverage of these things by the media and the protesters themselves always irritates me. It quickly devolves into arguments about crowd size (I’m not very good at judging crowds, but it seemed that at its peak, the rally filled the streets of roughly two city blocks), or complaints that the mainstream media is ignoring The Most Important Thing In The World in favor of, I don’t know, Kim Kardashian and her mutant husband.
But I refuse to get caught up in that game. All I can tell you is that a ton of people showed up Saturday, nobody caused any trouble, and, for a few hours, it seemed like a bunch of clever signs and righteous anger could change the world. Isn’t that enough?