Friday, November 4, 2011

To Occupy or Not to Occupy

As I listened to the founder of Occupy Charleston last night, I felt a frisson of fear creep up my spine.

This is because this movement is young, idealistic and uncompromising.  These are good things.

But I recalled the last time young people had an opinion and were willing to take to the streets for it.  In 1968, the hippies were against war and capitalist greed, and mocked the old folk who had got us where we were.  They didn't care if it was Hubert Humphrey or Richard Nixon (or Richard Daley for that matter).  They were rejecting and rebelling against the status quo, the comfortable middle class who were sending their sons to Vietnam, the corporations that were profiting from that war, the universities and the politicians that were colluding with the military industrial complex.

They didn't care who won the election; they were both the enemy.

So last night, when the speaker said he didn't really care if Obama got re-elected, or if it took ten years to reach their goals, I shuddered.

I'm older now, lots older.  I may not be around in ten years, but if I am, there is a good chance we will still be controlled by corporations that sleep with politicians and supreme court justices alike.  I will probably have had to work longer before I can collect my social security, which will be too little to pay the bills.  My kids, who are not corporate executive/financial kingpin types, will probably be lucky if they are able to support their families without having to worry about housing and healthcare, and truly fortunate if their children are well educated.

I look at our democratic party, and I see people who are afraid to stand up for democratic ideals.  I see people who are elected promising campaign finance reform, and once elected decide it's not good to bite the hands that feed them.

In South Carolina, I see a party so stuck in its rules that the corruption that was the Alvin Greene debacle of 2010 did not allow them to support a truly democratic candidate from a third party.  And democratic candidates who would not stand with that third party candidate, although we really do know that there is strength in numbers.

I believe that the hippies of 1968 would call that all bullshit, and the Occupy movement would give a downward finger wiggle to anyone running for office who defines their campaign by what is rather than what is right.

I believe Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are candidates this movement can support because they will unflinchingly support the ideals behind this movement.

And it will be a sad, sad day for us all if our democratic candidates are not able to get on board, not because that is where the votes are, but because the cause is right.

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