Thursday, December 22, 2011

10 of 11: #Occupy

After "The Arab Spring" and Europe's summer of discontent, many were wondering why America couldn't protest what we supposedly couldn't stand. Well, we all now know what happened next...

"The American Autumn" began, and it came here in full force.

It probably doesn't help that despite economists marking the official end of "The Great Recession", household income continued to fall nearly 7%. No matter how much we say the recession is over, for many Americans, and a whole lot of Nevadans, it rages on as they live in fear of losing everything. But in the last couple of years, that fear has been turning into anger. In the beginning, "Tea Party, Inc." was hoping to co-opt that anger and direct it at "LIB-RULZZZ!!!" But now that Occupy Together is offering a non-corporate alternative to the "tea party" corporate front groups, people are realizing they now have a chance to redirect their anger at the forces that really caused this mess. [...]

This is why Americans are angry, and this is why Occupy Wall Street may become more than just one protest. People want jobs, but Congress does nothing. People are feeling ignored. Even while the 99% suffer, no one cares as long as the top 1% continues to prosper. Though people are demanding real economic solutions now, all they're seeing on Capitol Hill is more bickering about policies that do nothing to help formerly middle class workers.

This is why Americans are angry. They feel like the system is broken. And really, can we blame them? Can we blame them for being angry at Koch Industries buying as much "free speech" as they want with each upcoming campaign while they were continually ignored?

It even came here and reached us locally. Down south it seemed to hit a climax in October, when the G-O-TEA thought they were just going to see a debate and do a conference inside. They didn't expect an uprising outside.

Yes, there were a few conspiracy nuts. And there were some Ron Paul fans. And there were some genuine socialists.

However, there were also unemployed workers. And there were frustrated students. And there were union workers. And there were angry seniors. And there was an amazing cross-section of Southern Nevada present outside The Venetian. For all of Wall Street's efforts to smear and denigrate the Occupy/99% movement, there's obviously far more to it than just the small radical fringes that's really resonating with the strong majority of Americans. And that scares the corporate powers that be.

This is what scares them.

They just can't lump together all the Occupy/99% protesters as "crazies". It's easy to zoom in on one person and try it, but it's not so easy to dismiss this kind of crowd. And it's not easy to dismiss the policy ideas that most in Occupy support that most Americans also support, such as making the super-rich pay their fair share so we can make better investments in taking care of our seniors, putting people back to work, and educating our future leaders. The big corporate powers that be simply can't spin that as "fringe" or "extreme", and that scares them.

It seemed like The 99% Movement was about to "go big" and reshape American politics, but then it hit a snag. Winter was fast approaching (btw, Happy Solstice!), and so were the cops. And in the process, it seemed like Occupy was losing steam. Honestly, I was getting concerned.

However, I am concerned about The 99% Movement going forward. Is apathy laced diaspora the best approach to this next election? An election that can take this country in a radically different direction? An election that will again prominently feature the Supreme Court? An election that may feature [Mitt Romney or Paul-Gingrich-Perry-???], both of whom holding nothing but contempt for the 99%, as the Republicans' Presidential Nominee? An election that will either get Congress working for the 99%, or result in a Congress that's even more hostile to the 99%? When much is at stake here, I don't see the use in progressives sitting out this election to engage in street theater... While "Tea Party, Inc.", is set to spend however much it takes to take full control of the government.

If one wants to change the system, one can't just sit back as a bystander. One must work to create that change. And while protests are fine and dandy and a great way to express one's right to free speech, protests alone will not solve our problems. We have to remember to vote, too.

But then this happened, she came back, and I saw reason to hope again.

It can be quite easy to become discouraged by the whole process. And it can be quite easy to become distracted by the endless media hype and speculation over meaningless "dog and pony shows". And it be quite easy to become disgusted by all the dirty corporate money thrown around. Sometimes, it's quite difficult to remember what really matters.

However, we just can't forget. We can't forget the importance of getting involved, contacting our members of Congress, building a real movement, and ultimately using our votes to change what we don't like. That's the beauty of our system, and that's something we should never feel compelled to give up.

We can't wait for job creation. And we can't wait for an end to Congress' charade games that keep threatening middle class families. We need real, bold action on job creation. And if the current G-O-TEA House majority prevents Congress from acting, then we need to change Congress by occupying the vote.

Hopefully, this will finally come to fruition in 2012.

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