IRVINE — On Tuesday the Irvine City Council voted unanimously to permit the OccupyOC-Irvine demonstrators to camp on the Civic Center lawn for another two weeks. An agreement between the demonstrators and the city was set to expire today, is now set to expire on December 17th unless the agreement is extended again.
Mayor Pro-Tem Beth Krom praised the demonstrators for being respectful and living up to what they said they would do: educate and encourage conversation.
“It’s hard when you watch the news and see what is happening around the country,” she said. “We really have a very respectful group of people. It’s not a perfect occupation, occupations usually have sides that are unpleasant.”
The overnight demonstrations have their critics however. The primary complaint is that people will drive by and honk their horns at night disturbing residents in the neighboring residential area. The city has placed electronic road signs asking folks to refrain from honking, and that has reduced some of the disturbances. Read more in this OCRegister story.
The bigger issue for the OccupyOC-Irvine demonstrators is the reality that their overnight occupations cannot go on indefinitely. Eventually the city will need to water the lawn and ask the demonstration to move on to a new phase.
While it is a goal of the demonstrators to spur change in government policy at the national level, those changes are not really accomplished by occupying a park. In a democracy, the best was to make a change is to elect legislative representation that will move forward the desired changes politically.
The astro-turf TEA Party was able to translate their much smaller demonstrations into a formidable political movement in the lead up to the 2010 elections. The Occupy movement must shift its focus to grassroots organization of a political campaign focused on shifting the balance of power.
The OccupyOC demonstrators can serve their cause far more effectively by organizing the political movement necessary to guide the results of the 2012 primary and general elections towards electing legislators who will serve the needs of the 99% of Americans who are suffering for the benefit of a few millionaires and billionaires.
OccupyOC-Irvine, now that you have our attention, it’s time to get out of your tents and start registering and motivating voters to participate in the process of democracy.