Friday, November 18, 2011

Right idea, wrong approach...

Occupy Wall Street.  I'm sure you've heard about it by now.  Heck, it has spread all over this country, even all over the world.  What is it?  What do they stand for?  Who is leading the charge?  What are they hoping the outcome will be?  While the movement may only be two months old, there are still so many questions remaining.  Let's see if I can touch upon a few of them, and give my impressions of the movement.

First of all, what is Occupy Wall Street?  Conceptually, I think it is great.  I see OWS as a movement of people fed up with politics as usual.  This country has shifted from the land of opportunity to the land of haves and have nots.  We continue to see the gap between wealthy and poor grow wider and people are rightfully upset about this.  Now, before you accuse me of hating rich people or spewing class warfare, stop, I don't begrudge someone for having money.  If they have worked hard and earned their money, good for them!  What I am tired of, however, is the loopholes the rich are given at the expense of us in the middle class.  People with money are able to influence those on Capital Hill to help them out even more, while people like me are only able to see my bank account get bigger by picking up a 3rd, 4th or 5th job.  I do not want to be given anything, I want to work for it.  Like I said, I'm not mad at you for your successes in life, I applaud you.  That said, I'm tired of paying more in taxes so you can get a break.

Like I said before, conceptually this idea is fantastic.  However, I'm not sure we should be mad at those on Wall Street.  While I feel many of them may be immoral people, they haven't broken any laws.  They are operating under the current set of laws, whether we like them or not.  That said, our anger should be directed toward our elected officials past and present in Washington DC.  They are the ones who make the rules.  They are the ones that continue to give tax breaks to the wealthiest among us.  They are the ones who have a lower approval rating than the Kardashians for gods sake.  We should be occupying DC, and reminding Congress that they work for all of us, not just a select few.

I recently tried to explain to my 9 year old daughter what they were doing as we drove by Lincoln Park in Portland, where the Occupy Maine group is camping out.  She had a hard time understanding it all, and rightfully so, she is only 9, but her first comment was, why camp out?  I couldn't answer this question.  I don't really know.  I mean, I get that in order to occupy an area you need to set up shop.  I get it.  However, I think it is a bad way to protest.  We have the most powerful form of protesting, our vote.  If we are unhappy with how things are going, we can go to the ballot box and vote for people who will do right for the people.  If the new batch of politicians can't do what is right, we can vote them out and start over.  However, in order to make this work we have to stop worrying about party affiliation and insist that no matter what you call yourself, a Democrat or a Republican, you need to look out for everyone, not just those that give you the most in bribes.

Every good movement needs leadership.  While I appreciate their attempt to keep this open to more people, it's hard to not have a central person to be the face of the movement.  What's worse, is now it is starting to spin out of control.  With no real leadership to speak of, and occupiers intentionally getting arrested to make some point, this movement will fall flat on its face.  Again, I want to rally behind them, but I simply cannot.  In order to turn things around and make this movement become a legitimate force, like the Tea Party did, it needs individuals to stand up and proclaim its purpose and goals.  It needs someone to whip the occupiers into shape and lead them in a positive direction.  You can claim that you are peacefully protesting until you are blue in the face, but with every arrest, every riot, every person that smashes a window, you lose more and more credibility. 

In all honesty, I'm losing hope for the Occupy Wall Street movement.  I'm hopeful that the concept can live on, but I think the movement itself is losing any steam it may have once had.  If there is truly a large percentage, say 99%, that is pissed off with politics as usual, then we need to hit the ballot boxes next November and send a message to the politicians in Washington.  If they aren't going to do what is best for all of us, we need to send them home so someone else will.  That is how you get a point across.  Stop trashing parks and blocking bridges.  All that is going to do is disrupt the lives of people who have nothing to do with this, and that isn't acceptable.  If you want to be taken seriously, do the right thing and make change, don't site around and bitch about it.  I'm just saying...