I have been following the #occupywallstreet story and Twitter traffic since well before the first planning meeting materialized in New York. I have until now written little about the subject, though I’ve shared a great many links and videos. I do indeed find myself in wholehearted support for the potential of what I’m calling the Occupation Movement. In fact, I helped organize a solidarity rally in Austin, Texas on September 17th, the first day the New Yorkers took Zucotti Park (Liberty Plaza).
There is, as I am sure all have seen, an anti-capitalistic element to the movement, though I know for a fact that not all in the movement are so. Many of us have no problem with the idea of exchange of goods, services and some variety of regulated currency. However, many of us are reacting to the controversial split decision ruling of the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC and have grave reservations about unlimited corporate/union donations to political campaigns, as well as the concept of corporate person-hood- ABC News coverage of “bipartisan” American opinion on the case- Of course, this kind of event coupled with that kind of material does draw a certain contingency of Communist, Democratic Socialist, and anarchist folks, but there are also independents, Libertarians, and even disenfranchised Democrats and Republicans present. None of us want to destroy anybody’s personal liberties, and this is most certainly not some Obama re-election campaign.
In my viewpoint- all the reasonable people who are involved in these occupations want nothing more than meaningful civil discourse, rather than this reality t.v. show version of politics that is constantly drummed up by the media as a whole. Many of us are sick and tired of a two party system that doesn’t accurately describe our philosophies. About about 35% of Americans now consider themselves independent voters according to the Pew Research Center- Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology. I think many of us are looking for a new paradigm of politics that doesn’t require some label and a national conference of other jackasses telling you what to think. Many of us want to bring the political focus back from Washington D.C. into our own local sphere where we can educate and learn from each other without name-calling and mudslinging and where we can have debate and find solutions in a public forum. To be politically disenfranchised, want some kind of public forum for civil discourse and actually get all those people in one physical location to have an actual conversation, you almost HAVE to occupy a public park!
I honestly believe that we need to get rid of the party labels and the name-calling and come together as Americans and have honest civil discourse or we will have a civil war. Again. I also believe that we need to create public forums specifically for the purpose of holding lectures, discussion groups, debates, and general assemblies. In times like these we need to have an open air market for ideas. Internet chat-rooms don’t work for this. The rules would be simple- No drugs nor alcohol, zero tolerance for violence, leave no trace and when participating please abide by the rules of the general assembly. These forums should become the platform for adult education, debate and consensus building in our local communities. We need a physical place for groups of people to coalesce around common ground and start working groups to achieve common goals. We need a space specifically designed to be the people’s forum in every city in what’s often referred to as “the laboratory of democracy” that each state is. I think that in and of itself may well lead to a significant amount of job creation.
We have so many more similarities than differences and a 1950’s dualistic perspective on politics is just not going to cut it any more. We have to stop allowing media to frame the political content of the news- we need to drive the content and get down to brass tacks. We can no long afford politicans be the representative of the majority, they must represent the consensus. If you can’t reach consensus on an issue then it is either not important enough yet or the decision making process needs to be deferred to a more local setting. Per example: we learned through Prohibition that a nationally binding amendment was not working for that issue. As it turned out, it was too divisive to even decide it on a state level, so it was brought down to the county level and each individual county decided whether to be wet or dry. For this reason there are still dry counties today. The fact of the matter is that you can’t paint politics in broad-brush strokes and you certainly can’t force the opinion of a third of the country on the other two thirds just because your side won and one of those thirds is politically disenfranchised from you AND your opponent.
There’s much more more piss and vinegar where this came from, but these are my opinions I wish to voice at this time. With this I merely meant to stress to all Americans that you can’t judge an entire movement by a naked communist on a street corner.