"Yes, I hope there will be pressure to do even more, but I, again, want to be honest, simply being in a public place and voicing your opinion in and of itself doesn’t do anything politically. It is the prerequisite, I hope, for people getting together and voting and engaging things. And I understand some of the people on occupy Wall Street are kind of critical of that. They think that's conventional politics. Well, you know, the most successful organization in America in getting its views adopted is the national rifle association. They are in many cases a minority. But in addition to everything else they do, they very effectively identify who the members of the congress are, the legislatures and vote for them."
It all comes down to this - if you aren't going to occupy a voting booth in 2012, then you're wasting your time occupying Wall Street right now.
Statistically speaking, young adults are a voting minority. Adults 18-25 tend to turn out and vote in the smallest numbers relative to their percentage of the population. This is due to a number of factors, not the least of which is a disenfranchisement with electoral politics. Simply put, most adults under 30 don't care about politics, they don't follow politics, they find political discussions boring, they don't feel like their vote matters, that it's a waste of time and they don't think politicians from either party really care about them or their problems, so what difference does it really make who wins?
Well, many of those same young adults are down at the OWS protests and other protests in major cities all over the country right now. Many of those same young adults are posting "I am the 99%" pictures and comments all over Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Many of those same young adults are just finishing college and facing the worst job market in over 60 years while saddled with the highest average student loan debt in our nation's history. Many of these young adults are finding themselves entering into the "real world" with the boot of oppression already firmly planted on their necks and they're pissed off about it and looking not just for someone to blame, but for a way to change the status quo.
So, how do you do that? It's really easy - you VOTE.
The voice of the 99% might have been stifled and drowned out by the trumpets sounding from the ivory towers of the elite 1% over the last 30 years, but we're still a democracy for now and that means the one voice of the people that cannot be stifled or ignored is the voice we raise when we pull the lever in that voting booth.
If you're down at an "Occupy" rally, if you're expressing solidarity with the 99%, if you agree with, support or believe in the message that the 99% are trying to get out there, then you must prove it in the voting booth. Simply saying "I am the 99%" isn't enough. Putting a sticker on your car isn't enough. Copying and pasting statuses isn't enough. It's great that this movement has grown legs and is resonating with the very people at whom it is meant to ignite emotion, but without real, meaningful action, it will go down as the greatest waste of potential in modern history. A rally without action is like a sports car without an engine - it looks great but it doesn't go anywhere.
So, if you're unhappy with the current political structure in our country, then vote to change it.
If you're unhappy with the wage imbalance that is crushing the poor and middle-class, then vote to change it.
If you're unhappy with the Wall Street plutocracy, where the richest 1% make all the rules and the other 99% of us suffer the consequences, then VOTE TO CHANGE IT.
If all you're going to do is sit around a bitch, then you're no better than the people you claim to be opposed to, because neither of you is doing a damn thing to change the status quo.
That's it, that's all I have to say today. This is a message I'm going to be repeating more and more as it gets closer to election time, but it cannot be said enough. If you aren't happy with the way things are in this country right now, if you want to see real change to our system, then you have to get out there and vote on election day. Who we elect as president, who we put in congress (and who we throw out), the legislation and policies we choose to support all has a profound impact on the quality of life we are going to create for ourselves both in the immediate future and for the long term, for our children and their children. Your vote does matter, what you do does make a difference. If young adults in America turned out to vote at the same rate as people over 40, our country and it's leadership would look a lot different today. Hell, there might not even be a need for an OWS or 99% movement, because the people would already have spoken.
I'm not trying to tell you how to vote (although you can probably guess my suggestions), I'm just telling you to vote, period. If you care about what's happening to our country, if you are tired of the 1% getting bloated with wealth on the backs of the other 99%, if you want to see things start to improve in this country, then you have to make your voice heard where it really matters - in the voting booth. Otherwise, you're just living up to the ignorant stereotypes that are being promoted by the media, the pundits and the politicians who stand to make a lot of money by keeping things the way they are.