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Margaret Weinberg

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Why it's Time to Organize the Occupation

Posted: 10/25/11 10:35 AM ET

I want to write about the Occupy Wall Street protests for my first Huffington Post blog. After all, it's an exciting movement that is happening right now and our country has been in desperate need of this type of large-scale political activism for a long time. However, despite following the protests in the news, I still find myself confused.

Protesters seem to be concerned with everything from corporate greed, to Obama, to capitalism, to the costs of college. This seems like a cause without a cause, not to mention one without a leader. There is an undeniable, underlying philosophy -- that there are things in this country that aren't working. And the protesters couldn't be more right about that. But a protest needs to have specific and realistic demands. There needs to be a clear problem, so that an achievable solution can be established. If there isn't, then where does this end? When will the protesters tire? Or are they going to stand on Wall Street until a very broad aspect of our society suddenly changes?

Like most problems, the Occupy Wall Street protests represent a larger issue. Political activism has been dying in our country for a long time and now that we've found a cause it's tempting to jump on the bandwagon. We're excited, and why shouldn't we be? It's wonderful that this kind of large-scale movement has been so successful, causing sister protests to pop up all over the country. But the truth is, we haven't even established what the bandwagon entails yet and in our excitement it is easy to lose sight of the importance of having a sure goal. People are bringing a myriad of worthy causes to the protests, but it's time to take a step back and remind ourselves that this is just the beginning of what could be an even more successful movement. We need to take this type of large-scale change one step at a time and think about what specific and fixable issue is most important to represent right now.

There are other questions that need to be asked as well -- questions that are getting lost in the heat of the moment. We need to think about where we should be standing -- is Wall Street where we can make a difference, or does the anger belong in Washington DC? And we need to think about what we're asking, what solutions we are proposing, and what realistically can be done.

No matter how noble the cause, it's the execution of the protest that makes the difference. For every issue there is an opponent, one who will grab on to a protest's weaknesses and use them to their own advantage. It's time to establish our common ground, so that we can effectively stand as a united force that tells the world how to change, instead of just stating that it should. And if this protest can turn itself into a more effective one, perhaps we are just looking at the beginning of the rebirth of political activism in America.