Waking A Sleeping Giant: The Occupy Movement
In times of great need, Americans have answered the call to action in the effort to push America towards a brighter future. This is one of those times. On November 17, 2011, Americans across the country took to the streets and began a massive day of protests against corporate greed, corrupt politicians, big banks, and the top 1%. Many conservatives are declaring the movement dead, but I beg to differ. The movement you see has not yet begun to fight.
The Occupy movement must grow stronger. At this very moment, peaceful Americans are being arrested, beaten, bloodied, and deprived of the very constitutional rights that our Founding Fathers fought long and hard to secure for their countrymen and for future generations. The police we thought were there to protect and serve us are nothing more than a bought and paid for protection detail for the wealthy who have been pulling the strings over the last 30 years. And now a bill, which President Obama has vowed to veto, has been passed by the Senate that would allow the military to lock up American citizens without trial or charge if suspected of being a terrorist. Conservative media, pundits, and politicians have begun accusing OWS protesters of being terrorists. Should the veto be overridden, all of this could lead to the military being called in to haul protesters away for an indefinite period of time. That’s really scary.
While Americans protest, Wall Street thumbs their collective noses at the 99%. The gap between rich and poor has widened to historic levels. Many corporations dodge paying taxes, hoard money overseas, pour millions upon millions of dollars into the pockets of politicians and practically own the government that is supposed to be responsible for defending our rights and our lives. Many of these corporations have more money than the US Treasury and many corporations receive taxpayer dollars on top of the massive profits they currently make. Banks and corporations run rampant, unregulated, without consequences for their actions.
And what do the people get back in return? Suffering. As a result of corporate greed and irresponsibility, Americans have lost their jobs, their homes, their dignity, their health, their money, and some have even lost their lives. Education is being taken away from us. Our right to unionize and bargain with our employers is being stripped. American infrastructure is crumbling. Our health care system is in shambles. Wars are being waged for profit. And now, Wall Street wants our Medicare and our Social Security for themselves.
Over 20,000 people joined the protests in NYC on November 17th, but that’s not nearly enough. Wall Street is ground zero for all the problems America is dealing with. Occupying cities around the country, while great, will not make corporate executives, bankers, and billionaires fear us and change their ways. If we want to change things, we must move the protests into the NYSE building itself and into all of the big banks. And we must turn 20,000 people into one million. Those who are protesting in other cities must make their way to Wall Street in New York City.
America has many problems that must be fixed immediately. Many Occupy Wall Street protesters have made multiple demands such as:
1. Increase taxes on the wealthy and corporations.
2. End the wars and bring our troops home.
3. Repeal Citizens United and approve a constitutional amendment against corporate personhood.
4. Restore Glass-Steagal and strongly regulate and break up the big banks.
5. Get money out of politics by banning private funding of elections by corporations.
6. Protect labor unions and American workers.
7. Rebuild America’s infrastructure.
8. Invest in education.
9. Defend Social Security.
10. Stop spending cuts and start investing in America.
11. Create jobs.
12. Invest in alternative energy sources so we are no longer held hostage by oil.
13. Pass Medicare for all.
These are the core demands of the Occupy movement. These are the core demands of a majority of Americans. If we want to succeed, it is essential that the movement grow to unimaginable proportions. The Civil Rights movement in the 1960s brought one million people down upon Washington DC and because of that strength, Congress surrendered to their demands and passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, two major pieces of legislation that would not have been passed had Americans not risen up to demand them.
This may be the last chance we have to change America and how it has worked these last thirty years. The Constitution is being ignored, voting rights are being strangled, civil rights are being violated, and police across the country have become nothing more than a 21st century gestapo who work for the top 1%. This is, for all intents and purposes, a second American Revolution. This is an economic war for America’s soul. And we the people cannot afford to lose.