After two weeks of Wall St. occupation, the message sent by the protesters in New York has made it's way to the west coast. This weekend, an "Occupy LA" movement began outside the city hall building in Los Angeles and peaceful protesters have been there for 2 days now. Much like the Occupy Wall St. movement, the Occupy LA demonstrators are carrying signs and raising awareness about the greed of the banks and financial industries that has destabilized our economy, sent the country into a 4-year long recession, led to massive unemployment, destroyed the housing market and sent millions of families into poverty - many for the first time in their lives.
For months now, I have been talking about the Tea Party and the fact that, while I think they've become everything that they claim to detest about government and have mutated into a heartless, selfish, anti-intellectual, dominionist movement thinly disguised as a collection of fiscal ultra-conservatives, they have proven that all it takes is a big enough crowd of loud enough protesters carrying big enough signs to get the media to pay attention to you and, apparently, with a few million in secret corporate slush funding, that attention can lead to a hijacking of an entire political party to drive it to the extreme fringe of their ideology. I have lamented the fact that this kind of vitriol is lacking on the progressive side. That rational, intelligent people who understand that the solution to the problems facing our country right now isn't to retreat into the past but rather to leap into the future aren't having their voices heard the way the angry, xenophobic Tea Partiers are. I even went so far as to say that the answer is for the progressives, center-leftists, socially-liberal moderates and everyone else who finds themselves being increasingly alienated by the extremism of the conservative movement to start their own version of the Tea Party - a grass-roots movement of "average Americans" who have been victimized by a decade of Wall St. greed and excess, victimized by banks and their puppets in Washington, victimized by a system rigged against them and patronized by a do-nothing electorate, too busy playing politics to actually do their jobs. A movement that says "We've had enough of politics as usual in Washington, we've had enough of business as usual on Wall St. and most of all, we've had enough of divisive hatred and ignorance as usual from the deluded masses in the Tea Party!"
Now, I'm not so delusional and arrogant as to think I was anything more than a smart observer regarding the fact that it seems as though much of what I called for months ago is starting to come to pass today. I think anyone who was paying attention to what the voices both on the left and in the middle were saying would have seen that an "Anti-Tea Party" backlash was coming. You could see it when Jon Stewart has his famous Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington. The crowds of people who attended that event to proudly proclaim that organizing, demonstrating and spreading a message wasn't just reserved for angry regressionists. It was the beginning of a change in the way people thought about effecting progress on a national level. The longer our nation has languished in recession, the longer that the working class has been getting shafted and fed one line of crap after another by the corporate-coddling politicians in Washington and their plutocratic puppet masters on Wall St., the more that those politicians have tried to crush worker's rights, suppress the vote and enforce their social agendas rather than listen to the people who elected them and work to help ease our suffering, the more the quiet dissension on the left began to spread towards the alienated middle. As time has gone on, that quiet dissension has become a loud voice of protest.
So, now we have an organized opposition protest taking place in both NY and LA. Soon, I can almost guarantee, there will be similar protests in Chicago and other major cities across the country. These protests will evolve from demonstrations, sit-ins and marches on financial institutions to acts of civil disobedience of all kinds. The more Wall St., the banks and the greedy plutocrats and obstructionists politicians seek to keep their boots on the necks of the 99%, the louder and angrier our voices will become. The progressives may not have the big corporate funding that the Tea Party does, but they have their supporters and they're getting more and more organized every day. Most of all, though, they have the intellectuals, the big-idea people and they can spell all the words on their signs correctly.
This is already being called the "American Autumn", a comparison to the "Arab Spring" that took place a few months ago where the people in Egypt, Syria and Libya most famously, rose up against their oppressive and corrupt governments and took back the power that had been robbed from them and imposed democracy where it had been suppressed for generations. Fortunately, I don't think that the people of America will have to resort to the same violent uprising that the people of Libya did, nor do I think the American protesters will meet the same violent suppression that protesters in the Arab countries did, although certainly the actions of many NYPD officers towards the peaceful demonstrators on Wall St. should not be taken lightly. This is just the beginning of a movement and if it's already being met with such indiscriminate brutality and civil rights violations, it most certainly will get worse before it gets better.
However, nothing worth having was ever easy to achieve. When blacks demonstrated for civil rights in the 60's, they were met with fire hoses, wooden batons and police dogs. When women demonstrated for the right to vote, they were beaten, harassed and arrested. Whenever a downtrodden proletariat rises up against those who would hold a boot to their necks, the retaliation has always been swift and severe. But, the results of resisting that suppression, of fighting to break free of those shackles and enduring the punishment because the ends justify the means is always worth all of the suffering and hardship that it takes to get there. I'm sure that, at some point, the movement of the people to rise up against the corruption and collusion between Washington and Wall St. will be met with methods a lot harsher than pepper spraying crowds of teenagers, brutalizing unarmed college students, beating women for the "crime" of filming the police brutality and trying to slander these demonstrators in the media. The more that Wall St. and it's bought and sold minions push against the occupation, the more they show their own hands in this game.
The more Wall St., Washington and their media propaganda machines attempt to marginalize, downplay and ridicule the protesters, the more they betray just how much of a threat these protesters really are. You don't have to resort to jack-booted thuggery against a bunch of misguided college slackers looking for attention. You don't have to launch a media smear campaign against a Saturday sit-in by a bunch of neo-hippies. No, they're fighting against the occupiers because they know that they pose a threat that goes far beyond a sea of tents and smelly demonstrators parked outside your office building. These demonstrations are just the beginning. They're just the first calls to arms in a modern revolution. It's been 30 years. 30 years of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer and the middle-class shrinking away. 30 years of trickle-down policies that have concentrated the wealth to a bloated 2% and concentrated the poverty to over 50% of the population. 30 years of lies, deceit and empty promises from elected officials, bought and sold by Wall St. brokers, bank CEO's and global financial institutions. 30 years of watching the American Dream being broken down, packaged up and sold as junk bonds on the open market. Tents on Wall St. is the beginning. Occupation is just the first stage. The movement has started, it's getting legs and gaining speed and momentum. If government doesn't bend to the will of the people, the people will eventually bend it. It's going to be a long and chilly autumn, dress warm.