We are many. Our causes, our concerns, and our voices are as numerous as our Occupiers. The media and ‘powers-that-be’ do not understand that our concerns are too broad and too far reaching to be reduced to a simple set of ‘demands’. They do not (they refuse to) understand the depths of our frustrations, the totality of the betrayals. They cannot deal with a ‘leaderless’ revolution. We cannot expect the response we individually and collectively desire without effectively communicating to our intended audience. We are moving on uncharted grounds. How can All that is Wrong be reduced to a “Top Ten” list of demands.
But, there is a historical perspective that can help to (possibly) illuminate a way forward.
Once before, in my lifetime, WE took to the streets. It was a simpler time, it was a more straightforward issue, our desires and the solution were obvious… End the War in Viet Nam. We were all at risk, the Government practiced Forced Conscription, the Selective Service, The Draft. Every single person of age (18-35) KNEW that the Government could call your name (number) at ANY TIME.
We protested, we demonstrated, we exercised civil disobedience. People were arrested, the People were harassed and ridiculed, People were killed by Government violence against American Citizens. But we stayed, we persevered, we sacrificed, we refused to be defeated. Eventually, the War was ended. “Peace” was restored, the overt American aggression ceased. When we stopped warring on the People of Southeast Asia… the War ended. It took years, it took regime changes in the American Government. We did not overthrow the system, we changed the system. WE were Legion, hundreds of thousands in the Streets, in Colleges, in Big Cities, in Small Towns, ALL across the Country. Ultimately, the ways in which we treated those returning from their forced conscription into the service of the Corporate Military Industrial Machine was shameful. Those who served in the unjust Corporate War for Profits and Access to Resources did not deserve our scorn or hate. That injustice has not been undone.
Action in the streets catalyzed the Movement, the changes were effected at the Ballot Box. Many of those changes have been undone over the last thirty or forty years… again through the Ballot Box. Our dreams were compromised, our hopes for a better future, a better Government were dimmed. This was not done TO us… but BY us. We abandoned the dreams, we believed the lies of the 80s rush for wealth. We shifted from making a better world for all of us, to what we could take for ourselves. We turned our backs on each other and the future. All that became important, all that had value, was defined by what we were told/sold by the media and ‘powers-that-be’. Our leaders and heroes were murdered, incarcerated, or dis-credited by repetition of media/establishment lies. We sold out to greed. How much can I get for me became the clarion call. We separated ourselves from each other by focusing on the differences, by creating fear of those differences. We rationalized our greed and our fears, we began to hate and resent. We stopped believing in the greatness of our Democracy. We believed that ‘this is all there is’ and it became our overriding imperative to get as much as we could for ourselves, the rest of you be dammed. We abandoned our responsibility to our fellow citizens, not only of this Country but, we abandoned the Citizens of the Planet. Our greed, our unbridled exploitation of the Planet, at any cost, became the hallmark of America. WE VOTED FOR GREED. WE VOTED OUT OF FEAR. WE BELIEVED THE LIES. WE BECAME THE LIES. WE PARTICIPATED IN THE CREATION OF THE 1%.
We kept our heads down, running as fast as we could to keep the Corporate Pace, yet we were losing ground every minute of every day. Unions turned their backs on workers. Corporate moguls took every advantage. We were told that America is not big enough for all to have what they need, only big enough for the wealthy, the strong to take what they wanted. WE turned our backs on each other in pursuit of personal greed. Others became dangerous for wanting their share. They were demonized by the lies of the Reich-wing. We went from “Love is ALL You Need” to “Everything is What You Want”.
WE are now awakened. I believe in OCCUPY. I too want many of the same things. I read the signs, I see the pictures, I walk the lines. I OCCUPY. I do not agree with all the players and all the complaints… I listen, I understand, I just do not agree. That is NOT saying those that I do not agree with express unworthy or illegitimate ideas, goals, or solutions. WE OCCUPY, WE occupy with compassion, with tolerance, with open minds and hearts.
We went to the Streets, We protested, we disrupted, we changed the world…. But the World did not change , the SYSTEM did not change, UNTIL… We occupied the Ballot Boxes. The change we accomplished was effected as much in the Ballot Box as by our protests in the Streets. And Yes, it has been the Ballot Box that has allowed, promoted, and protected what has happened since.
WE can get their attention, WE can make them react, but they will not make the basic structural changes to an inherently unfair economic system that supports their greed, wealth and power. If we could not change the system from the outside in the 60s, the battle We face today is even more difficult. The powerful have more power and wealth. The media is controlled by a chosen few. The lies we are told are pervasive and the result of 40 years of mind control science (marketing). We have been deceived and distracted, by the media and our race for greed. We have reached the point where questioning the media causes one to be cast out and maligned. After decades of abuse by the powerful, the under-classes of America are awakening. We have been fed the lies of ‘job creators’, ‘government is the problem’, of racial and religious hatred, of the ‘good of wealth’ and the ‘evil of poverty’, and how it is all our own fault. WE have watched as our government has been corrupted and co-opted by the 1%, Hell we have participated. And, WE believed the lies, until recently. Until these lies and others we are told… are exposed and UNDERSTOOD… then we are all doomed to be duped into a future of less and less.
YOU are NOT part of the 1%… even if you are in the 98 or 99%… the gap is too far… YOU WILL NEVER GET THERE… and THEY DO NOT WANT YOU. So why do you keep defending their money, their tax loopholes, and their greed? WHY are you opposed to the Millionaire’s Tax? YOU WILL NEVER pay it.
Don’t you feel bad for your children and their children. Are you willing to do a single friggin thing for future generations, like your parents did for ours? Are you so caught up in your own little “Game of Accumulation” that you can’t see the forest for the trees. Stop your madness and self-delusion… YOU ARE part of the 99%… start acting like it.
With the power of the 99%, there is a clear path forward, a peaceful, non-violent, legal path to effect the changes we demand. And like it or not, believe it or not, that path is the Ballot Box.
I have recently listened to young Occupiers speak of their distain for the Ballot Box, how they have never voted, how they do not believe that voting makes a difference. And given their life experiences I cannot argue with their observations. Hell when I was in my 20’s, I never believed that the Ballot Box was the way forward. But it does not have to be that way. The Progressive Agenda HAS NEVER BEEN DEFEATED AT THE BALLOT BOX… if we unite and get out and vote. The changes we seek, in the basic structure of our government, of our society, will not come peacefully through any type of sustained popular action, save one… the Constitutional Right to Vote.
YOU want a better, more fair government… VOTE for it. Vote for candidates that support (or at least do not oppose) your views. Work for candidates that will make a difference. Change comes in small incremental bites, revolution comes in one big choking chunk. We did pretty well in 2008, and we fell down in 2010. Voting is a life long commitment. You cannot just do it once and expect miracles. Progress like evolution happens in fits and starts. New ideas do not simply replace old entrenched power structures. Even with all of the Corporate money and influence in our elections WE are still 99%, and last time I checked that was enough, even for the Senate.
WE will continue to occupy, every day, every night until…. Until EVER. And if all we do is occupy, then never may be how long we have to wait. But on November 5, 2012, WE will have another opportunity to exercise our Consitiutional franchise. We cannot ignore the election, we cannot boycott the election (we tried that and the BAGGERS won). WE have to be smart, and not just block vote against incumbents. WE have to use our minds, our voices, our intellect to evaluate each candidate individually. Sometimes the choice will be clear, others it may come down to the lesser of evils… but Damn it, that is the way it works. WE have to vote smart. WE HAVE TO VOTE.
A couple of thousand years ago, the story goes… there was a young Jewish preacher… He said, “…. you are no more than the least amongst you…”. What are you doing to help?