Five years ago, a few dozen kindred spirits set up a makeshift campsite in a tiny park squeezed between the monolithic skyscrapers of lower Manhattan. In the days and weeks that followed, hundreds, then thousands, descended upon Zuccotti Park, creating an international movement against corporate greed.
For those of us who braved the mace and ridicule, Occupy Wall Street was a radical departure from the apathy and pseudo-activism that has numbed an entire generation of Americans.
It was an incredible, "high-energy" time, with one fatal flaw: There was no real consensus regarding what (or whom) we were fighting against, or how to go about making a brighter tomorrow. We had come to protest corporate greed, but who was the target of our anger? Goldman Sachs? Raytheon? These are faceless, behemoth corporations. Even Obama emerged from OWS largely unscathed; taking millions of dollars from gelatinous corporate monsters was considered "the cost of doing business" in 2011.
Bernie Sanders has changed the rules. Without the Vermont senator acting as a foil to her insatiable hunger for corporate financing, Hillary Clinton would have sailed through the primaries on a boat made of legal bribes.
Sanders' remarkable success against the Clinton political machine and the Democratic Party (sorry, redundant) is arguably the result of the same kind of restless energy, idealism and passion that I witnessed at Occupy Wall Street. He really is the candidate of the 99%: So far, Sanders has received nearly 7 million individual donations (average gift size: $27). To put that insane number is perspective: That's more unique contributions than Obama received during his entire 2008 campaign.
As for Hillary, her top PAC donation amounts to 222,000 Bernie Sanders donations. Bernie's largest PAC donation amounts to nothing, because he doesn't have a PAC.
This goes way beyond her $200,000 speeches to Goldman Sachs: Hillary Clinton is the corporate-financed candidate ("the big bankers love Clinton, and by and large they badly want her to be president"). And new allegations of Hillary's unethical joint fundraising with the Democratic National Committee is further evidence that the establishment is betting big on the former Secretary of State.
For those of us who marched through the streets of lower Manhattan nearly five years ago, our nemesis has finally shown her face.