The reason why OWS is important is because the economic injustices cannot carry on any longer. People are tired and irate about the direction the country has been moving toward in the last few decades and they are desperate for a change. The OWS taps into this fount of collective angst and gives vent to them through civilized and non-violent protest. The genius of the OWS movement is in bringing together sections of the demography that had historically resisted such unity. For example, OWS managed to unite economically disparate groups, “from the bottom 6% of incomes up to the ninety-ninth percentile, around issues of economic inequality.” (Davis 932) Demographically, this is a broad grouping that had not lent itself to common causes and solidarity in the past. Yet, such is the verity of the message of OWS that workers’ rights activists, socialist/anarchist organizations, representatives of the very poor, had all come together for the common cause. Citing comparable examples from history, one can gain perspective on the strength of non-partisanship in OWS. For example,
“in the 1960s, poor people in the United States, with liberal middle class allies, mobilized around efforts to address poverty, resulting in the Welfare Rights Movement of the 1960s that followed on the national War on Poverty. Efforts to explicitly expand the welfare rights movement to include workers, and thus transition toward a movement addressing broader issues of economic justice, foundered. From the opposite direction, efforts to expand more middle class movements to include the poor have also failed. For example, the significant successes of the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr., could not be replicated when Reverend King turned his attention to the rights to adequate housing and the Poor People’s Campaign shortly before his death.” (Davis 932)
This brings into light the political and social significance of OWS apart from its economic implications. To put the socio-political importance of OWS in perspective, one has to compare its reach and participation to similar people’s movements of recent times. The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign of the 1990s and 2000s is a suitable example. This campaign spoke to the American conscience to take substantial measures in alleviating the travails of the very poor. Some practical measures as donating old and unused real-estate to the poor have been suggested. This was a movement led and run by the homeless community in the country. Brave as this movement was in its propagation, it failed to engage higher income citizens in their activism apart from taking their donations and volunteering. The mission statement of the campaign, namely, “‘to unit[e] the poor across color lines as a leadership base for a broad movement to abolish poverty’ – further emphasizes the primary focus on the poor, without a clear appeal to those who identify as workers or members of the middle class.” (Davis 933) This explains why this movement could not gather momentum the way OWS was able to do. It also explains why OWS is unique and special in terms of strengthening the American social fabric and sense of solidarity. In this respect, the historical significance of OWS is on par with that of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, although the domain of protest was social and not economic in the latter.
Another key indication of the centrality of OWS in American public discourse is its infiltration into art and popular culture. Indeed, creativity and political resistance have always found association during key moments in American history. For example, a prominent example from twentieth century history was the theatrical activity of the civil rights and antiwar activists of the 1960s. Going a little further back, the mass orchestrated labor revolts of the early twentieth century formed the content of films and theatre of the time. Expanding this point, OWS supporter Mike Daisey, the monologist and raconteur, observes: