Of all the criticisms of the Occupy Wall Street movement — which marks its one-year anniversary today — the most frustrating is that the participants allegedly do not know what they’re protesting against. Whether that comes from hip-hop moguls or from the Tea Party, the criticism is wrongheaded and delightfully so.
Why? Because Wall Street is a financial behemoth with many moving parts and tendrils that reach into every facet of society and government. It helps buy homes and takes them away; we buy debt from them to help fix the economy even though they wrecked it in the first place — and even admit to it; they keep one segment of the population in some form of indentured servitude and also the same for another. Heck, they even tried to stop this thing from happening.
And that’s just a sampling.
The Occupy folks down at Zuccotti Park — and at at least 15 other locations in the United States today — have every right to be concerned with Wall Street’s antics. Granted, our nation’s banks and financial corporations are a major driver of the economy, and we’re not ignorant to their critical roles on the regional, national and international stage.
But should we not call for more regulations to help prevent a repeat of 2008? Should we not call for banks to forgive bad loans (why shouldn’t it be just as much on the lender as the lendee when a $500,000 mortgage granted with virtually no money down to a person who eventually defaults on said loan?) and creditors not to charge sky-high APR’s?
And why should we overlook that one major political party is calling for continuing tax breaks for the most wealthy of Americans — the One Percent — while the Supreme Court essentially agrees that corporations are people too, my friend?
During their national convention in Charlotte — at least in primetime — the Democratic Party seemed to make no mention of the Occupy movement. That’s unfortunate, because the broader #OWS platform seems at first glance to reflect the Dems’ values of pushing for stricter financial regulations, doing away with the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich and corporations, and lessening the effects of economic disparity. Doesn’t it make sense to at least acknowledge what the folks at Zuccotti Park are getting arrested for today?
Ignoring an entire movement instead of helping it refine and broadcast its message could be a serious misstep for the Dems come November. (One only need to look at the Republicans, which until it nominated Paul Ryan for the veep slot didn’t really have the Tea Party — a creation borne of the GOP, whether or not they admit it — in its fold.) That’s not to say that Occupy’s message or direction aligns with the Democrats on every issue, of course: no single party owns the 99 Percent, and OWS is often called a “leaderless revolution.”. But of the major parties, which is more likely to land on the side of economic justice?
The answer was once obvious, and it needs to be again.
Would appreciate hearing from all sides on this issue in your reblogs and replies.
My first post for the Election Tumblr.
I saw Dorli Rainey on the bus today. She’s that elderly woman who was pepper sprayed at Occupy Seattle in November (e.g. here). She was wearing a button which read “Keep Calm and Occupy,” and smiled at me when she saw I was looking from a few seats away on the bus. It was pretty cool.
Yesterday, Occupy Oakland moved to convert a vacant building into a community center to provide education, medical, and housing services for the 99%. Police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, beanbag rounds and mass arrests. The state has compounded its policy of callous indifference with a ruthless display of violent repression. The Occupy movement will respond, as we have always reponded: with an overwhelming show of collective resistance. Today, we take to the streets. Across the country, we will demonstrate our resolve to overcome repression and continue to build a better world grounded in love and solidarity for one another. All eyes on all Occupies.
SOLIDARITY SUNDAY, 7pm EST, Sunday, January 29. Check your local Occupation for convergence points.
Washington Square Park 7PM
Thoughts while doing the dishes.