These are heady days for those who are invested in any way in Occupy Wall Street. This action seems to be growing at its original site on Wall Street and there are sympathy actions happening around the country. Right now it feels like things are starting to fall into place for an actual movement to gel and gain some traction.
As with many new loves, there is an exhilaration and lots and lots of hope. I am extremely hopeful that even focusing a light on Wall Street practices will help expose many of the excesses as they have not been exposed before. Because so much of our media is corporate owned or sponsored by the very group that is being exposed, news of the excesses of Wall Street has been pretty much hushed up in the United States.
The early days of Occupy Wall Street have been ignored by the corporate media in one of their patented moves – if they do not report on a subject, it will go away. This has been practiced in the past against such things as the march against the invasion of Iraq and Howard Dean’s campaign. Often they use a measure such as showing a counter demonstration in a highly favorable light. This is the reason why poorly attended tea-party rallies get such phenomenal coverage. But in this case, it may be hard for the media to find more than just a few people who want to rally in favor of Wall Street excesses.
Added together with other recent actions this year in the United States, this is beginning to look like a movement. From the outpouring in Madison by and for the citizens who got the royal shaft from the newly elected legislature and governor, to the uprising in Ohio against the very onerous SB5 that limits collective bargaining by public employees and now to the Occupy Wall Street it looks like public awareness is honing in on not only the excesses of Wall Street, but the excesses of those doing their bidding.
I always say that behind every silver lining is a cloud. We need to investigate that cloud and figure out how to conquer it. The cloud is that sustaining a movement such as this will be hard. There have been movements like this before that have arisen to confront one form of excess or another. But people can’t live on protesting – food and shelter cost money. And protesting does not put people in places where they can change the laws that allow, even encourage these excesses. Nor does protesting help create a media more favorable to exposing the dark side of our system.
Even while we are feeling heady and hopeful, those on the corporate side are readying yet another assault on real democracy in the various state legislatures. Many states have already passed ALEC prepared bills that suppress voting in ways reminiscent of the old Jim Crow laws aimed almost specifically at Democratic voters. Several more states will push hard to pass these bills also. Here in Iowa, the election to replace the recently retired Swati Dandekar could give the Republicans the opening they needed to blunt the vote of students in college towns.
While Occupy Wall Street has a moment in the sunshine, corporate powers are working hard behind the scene to take over control of internet – the one bastion of free speech really left. They are also working hard to greatly curtail the power of unions. Also in the target are wages and benefits and any social safety net. Job security is pretty much a thing of the past as there is little to stop jobs from being shipped overseas on a moment’s notice.
Most of the readers of this blog are quite aware of the current situation. We all need to be aware that we can’t let this moment pass. We must continue to build on these recent successes and turn it into what will be a real movement. The energy and hope of Occupy Wall Street must be turned into good candidates and votes next November and well beyond, just as they were in Wisconsin last August.
Let me leave you with a very fitting quote for these times from Justice Louis Brandeis:
“We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”