There's an unavoidable dilemma here for this wonderfully anarchic movement: The larger it gets, the more it develops the ability to demand and win reforms, the more it will need structure and organization. And the more that happens, the further Occupy will move from its original leaderless experiment in true grassroots democracy.
But these are the problems a movement wants to have — dealing with growth and expanding influence is a lot more pleasant than realizing (as a lot of traditional progressive political groups have) that you aren't getting anywhere.
All of the discussions around the next step for Occupy are taking place in the context of a presidential election that will also likely change the makeup of Congress. That's an opportunity — and a challenge. As Meyer notes, "social movements often dissipate in election years, when money and energy goes into electoral campaigns." At the same time, Occupy has already influenced the national debate — and that can continue through the election season, even if (as is likely) neither of the major party candidates is talking seriously about economic justice.
That's why a formal platform could be so useful — candidates from President Obama to members or Congress can be presented with the proposals, and judged on their response.
Some of the Occupy groups are talking about creating a third political party — a daunting task, but certainly worth discussion.
But the important thing is to let this genie out of the bottle, to move Occupy into the next level of politics, to use a convention, rally, and national event to reassert the power of the people to control our political and economic institutions — and to change or abolish them as we see fit.
OCCUPY AMERICA IS ALREADY UNDERWAY
All across the country, Occupy organizers are developing and implementing creative ways to connect and come together, many of which we drew from for our proposal. We hope all of these people will build on each other's ideas, work together, and harness their power.
From invading the halls of Congress to "occutripping" road trips to ballot initiatives, here is a list of groups already working on ways to Occupy America:
Occupy Congress is an effort to bring people from around the country — and, in many cases, from around the world — to Washington DC on Jan. 17. The idea is to "bring the message of Occupy to the doorstep of the capital." The day's planned events include a "multi-occupation general assembly," as well as teach-ins, idea sharing, open mics, and a protest in front of the Capitol building.
A huge network of transportation sharing was formed around Occupy Congress, with a busy Ridebuzz ridesharing online bulletin board, and several Occupy camps organizing buses all around the country, as well as in Montreal and Quebec.
There are still two Occupy tent cities in DC, the Occupy DC encampment at McPherson Square and an occupation called Freedom Plaza, just blocks from the White House. Both will be accepting hundreds of new occupiers for the event, although a poster on the Occupy Congress website warns that "the McPherson Square Park Service will be enforcing a 500 person limit."
The Occupy Bus service was set up for Occupy Congress, but organizers say if the idea works out, it can grow and repeat for other national Occupy calls to action. They have set up buses leaving from 60 cities in 28 U.S. states as well as Canada's Quebec province. The buses are free to those who can't afford to pay, and for those who pay, all profits will be donated to Occupy DC camps.