On a warm October afternoon, I joined 250+ of my neighbors in supporting the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protest in my own small town. My sign said “Capitalism isn’t wrong, Greed is”, which sums up my feelings about the corporate takeover of our government to further Wall St. profits. It has been a long time since I was in a demonstration of any kind. I used to join peace marches, annual LGBT pride/rights and Martin Luther King marches, and protest cuts to low income housing. Later on, when I was managing low income apartments, I discovered direct action and joined the city’s neighborhood redevelopment committee for my neighborhood and started a neighborhood watch. After moving and taking a job in county government, my political activities halted. However, this demonstration was one that I couldn’t pass up. I needed to once again hear my own voice, as well as feel as though it had been heard by others.
When I arrived, I found people from all walks of life, including some self-described conservatives who understand that current Wall St and Congressional practices are the cause of our current economic stratification. They understood that we have come to a point that the rich will no longer be able to maintain their wealth on the backs of the rest of the population because the rest of the population has been drained. They understood that many of the people who are demonstrating in cities across the nation have the time to do so because they are unemployed with little to no job prospects. Although I believe in reaching across parties, boundaries and labels to communicate, I found myself stunned that self-described republicans could understand the depths of the economic crisis the way they did. This led to a conversation about the things that could revitalize the economy. The ideas that were put on the table were 1. buying only American-made items, 2. bringing manufacturing jobs back to American shores, 3. reinvestment in infrastructure instead of corporate tax breaks to create real jobs, 4. ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 5. an equal percentage based tax across the board, 6. returning congressional jobs to part-time service with a small stipend instead of 1st class jobs, and 7. getting rid of all lobbyists that have corporate ties and making lobby “perks” a federal felony for both parties involved.
We agreed on about half of these ideas, which I believe is a pretty good start. I am hoping that these conversations continue as the OWS movement continues, and that people start to find ways to take direct action in instituting such ideas. But more than that, I hope that this nation rediscovers it’s pride in itself both individually and collectively, much as I did when I made my voice heard.