I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the Occupy Wall Street movement. I’ve struggled for a while to understand my relationship to a movement I feel like I should have a relationship or understanding of. This is partly because I was busy enough to not think heavily about it and partly because I just wasn’t ready to jump into the fray. I’m ready now, so here it goes.
1st off, I totally disagree with right wing politicians and journalists who call the protests and protesters “Anti-American” They’re not. They’re working within the guidelines set forth by the Constitution. This polarization, however is an old right wing trick. Remember in 2008 when they were calling certain people and parts of the country the “Real America?” Implying that those not in that part of the country weren’t Americans. This is the same, tired tactic.
I’m also not a fierce opponent of capitalism. Capitalism without some common-sense guidelines, yes, but the system as a whole, no.
Here we go: A lot of politicians and/or journalists on the right like to tell their “self-made” stories. Either they, their parents, or their grandparents worked 3 jobs, was away from home a lot, etc. They did this so that they could create a solid middle-class life for them AND THEIR KIDS. That’s great. Good for their families, good for their kids, they can go to a better school, get a better job, and do better than their parents did.
I present to you, readers, arguably one of the biggest pillars of the “American Dream.” Your kids will have a better life than you did. And guess what? This pillar of the American Dream hasn’t been kept secret by the older generations. It’s something ingrained on the American consciousness. The next generation should have it better off than the previous one. Call it entitlement if you want (and many right-wingers do) but its entitlement that was promised us by the very people who now scorn the movement. (Do you think well to do politicians’ kids are suffering? I bet not. Entitlement, anyone?)
Bill McKibben illustrated this point eloquently in the Washington Post Recently:
And if the Tea Party speaks to an older generation deprived of the America its adherents remember, this new movement speaks to a younger generation robbed of the future it had been led to expect.
Suddenly the future we were promised is crashing down around us, all while such a tiny number of people enjoy record corporate profits. Now the current generation is going to find itself working three jobs to get the kids through college when we were promised that life would be better for us.
I still think it can be, but some of that money that’s part of the record corporate profits has to come out of the top of the system. It doesn’t have to be a ton and it won’t make us Socialists. But it would make things a whole heck of a lot more equitable.
As a country we live and die together, so this dichotomy can’t continue to exist.
So yes, I support the Occupy Wall Street Movement.