The Hot Corner: The revolution beginsWritten by Don Burnard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In several of my columns, I’ve warned that America had better wake up and pay attention before it’s too late to save what’s left of the middle class. There now appear to be signs that at least a portion of America is paying attention and doing something about it, and that portion seems to be growing every day.
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) was widely ignored by the mainstream media, and dismissed as some hippie-types complaining about who knows what when it began. Now, it seems to be spreading exponentially across the country and growing larger every day, and it’s getting more attention. The 1 percent is getting scared, Obama is starting to pay attention to the economy on Main Street instead of trying to placate Wall Street, and the Democratic Party shows flickers of possibly growing a spine.
The GOP flaks are deriding the un-American “mob” scene, yadda, yadda, yadda, completely ignoring the more unruly Tea Party events they lauded as democracy in action, where they tripped over each other for photo ops. I guess it’s only democracy if it’s their show. The corporate-controlled mainstream media is trying to dismiss the OWS group as having no discernable unifying message. This is untrue. The message is clear. The 99 percent is tired of bailing out the 1 percent at its own expense. It is time to bail out Main Street and end the obscene disparity that Wall Street has enjoyed, paid for by the “peons.”
I’m struck by the unintended meaning of the term peon, as it relates to the trickle-down economic theories that have been vaunted by conservatives for the past 30 years. The middle class has indeed been peed on, and perhaps we’ve finally reached a tipping point. Call it what you will; a revolution, class warfare, whatever, but make no mistake, it’s begun. Years of stagnant wages, obscene income disparity, rising costs in health care, student loans, and staple commodities have finally wakened a sleeping giant. Whether it can continue to grow and overcome the vast monetary gap that the 1 percenters enjoy remains to be seen.
In some ways, this truly grassroots movement reminds me of the Vietnam-era protests of my youth, which began small and grew to fundamentally change America. The main difference I see now is that the current protests seem to encompass a wider portion of the population — at the onset — than the war protests. This is probably because there are so many more things to protest that they can’t all fit on a bumper sticker.
The fact that there isn’t a single slogan that is easily defined shouldn’t negate the underlying message. The sheer number of complaints boils down to one source: greed. The 99 percent are starting to pay attention and are getting to the point that Peter Finch’s character reached in the 1976 movie “Network.” We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore!
People are starting to question the “conventional wisdom” that has kept them broke, working longer hours for less pay, out-sourced their jobs, left them with crippling debt from college loans, cost them their homes and bankrupted millions because they didn’t have adequate health care. The richest nation in the world shouldn’t be merely for the benefit of its richest citizens. The corporate AstroTurf organizations like the Tea Party, with a relatively small well-funded portion of the electorate, are proving that governance involves more than being against something.
One of the peculiarities of the situation is the fact that the Tea Party was ostensibly “founded” as a response to the Wall Street bailouts, before it was suborned by the social conservatives and corporate interests that funded it to complete the GOP and corporate agendas that had eluded them for decades. It didn’t quite work out as well as they hoped; it put a lot of persons in office with truly radical agendas who didn’t follow the big plan. The people with the Constitutions in their pockets may have hitched their wagons to the wrong star(s). I think our Founding Fathers would have had a lot more in common with a true grassroots movement like Occupy Wall Street than with a fake populist movement like the Tea Party.
I feared that when the next defining movement in our nation’s history came, I would be too old to take part in it. It may well have made it just in time. Let the revolution begin!
Email columnist Don Burnard at email@example.com.