It's not just Occupy Wall Street anymore.
According to occupytogether.org, there are Occupy events currently running or planned for the month of October in over 1400 cities across the globe, and in approximately 400 cities in 48 states across America. This is proof that Occupy Wall Street is growing, not only in its numbers, but in its ability to spread its message to as many Americans as possible in an attempt to end the financial manipulation of our government by those who bastardize the freedoms and ideals of the United States of America.
Seattle mayor Mike McGinn became one of the first political figures to not only address the Occupy Seattle protest, but also to publicly sympathize with their right to protest, as well as the actual cause at hand.
From McGinn's official statement:
I support the efforts of the protesters at Westlake Park to address this country's economic situation. In my budget speech last week, I stated:
"We are facing unprecedented inequality in this country. It is always true that bad times are harder on the poor. But we have not seen income inequality this great since 1928, the year before the Great Depression started. The top 1 percent control 34 percent of the nation's wealth. The top 10 percent control 2/3rds of the nation's wealth. It is an unprecedented grab by the most powerful to get a bigger share of a shrinking pie."
I also support the right to protest, and I support the right to protest at Westlake Park. Individuals and groups are welcome to continue exercising free speech rights.
Even with McGinn making good on his threat to arrest protestors, this was an important (if not lukewarm and possibly inadvertent) expression of solidarity for citizens expressing their desire to live in a country that is legislated through voter wishes rather than corporate influence.
If only NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone, Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell, Sr., Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, or Lansing, Michigan Mayor Virg Bernero would follow suit with similar statements, our national consciousness could embrace this perspective that Americans from all walks of life can support. It is the broad appeal of this mindset that is rippling across the nation and transforming Occupy Wall Street from a protest into a movement.
When people hear the word 'protest,' many of them have an involuntary, defensive reaction. Those with a social conscience may often feel guilty when they are not involved in a protest that espouses principles they actually agree with. In an attempt to ease their visceral guilt, they often conjure up images of a protest as a disorganized pack of drum circles, hacky sacks and incense. They imagine every protest to be a recreation of the worst parts of their undergrad experience. But this reluctance to effect societal change and engage in a dialogue to alter the course of our nation is shifting for many people all across the country. (I am legally obligated to inform you that this statement in no way constitutes a guarantee that you won't find a drum circle at Occupy Wall Street.)
People who support the movement "in spirit" are ditching their preemptive judgments of Occupy Wall Street as a loose mass of disoriented refugees simply filling time between Burning Man gatherings. They are discovering that the protestors are actually intelligent, articulate and employed individuals who fear living in an economy that puts their families one lay-off, medical diagnosis or bank error away from being out on the streets. Many people are seeing a social movement equipped with a proliferation of smartphones, tablets, web cameras, and an impressive, organic media network.
Citizens are realizing that the protestors in 1,430 cities across the world, and in approximately 400 cities in 48 states across the United States are actually paralegals, bus drivers, baristas, retail clerks, production assistants, cab drivers, actors, dancers, associate producers, waiters, bartenders, plumbers, stage managers, butchers, bakers, candlestick makers... friends, neighbors, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons.
In short, people are internalizing the truth that they share more with this group, the 99 percent, than they have ever shared with another group of protestors. Now, people are standing up and actively making their presence known as opposed to sitting on their hands and waiting for the movement to give them a reason to watch from the sidelines.
For those who support the movement, but don't see themselves as the protesting "type," they can repost information through social networks, donate blankets to those on the front lines, or simply bring up the movement in a conversation as a means of opening up a dialogue on the viability of transforming America from a corpocracy to a democracy driven of, by, and for the people. All of these things do matter. (You could also check out the videos of police officers beating protestors and pepper spraying reporters and see where you want to go from there.)
The more support this movement garners, the more transparent and impotent things like snarky Facebook updates, ignorant rhetoric from vapid, network reporters and casual dismissals from state or federal officials become. With support, this movement is very capable of transforming specific fundamental tenets of our society; because anything is possible with enough support. Just the existence of 2 Broke Girls is enough to make me certain that a cure for cancer must be just around the corner.
This movement is about a disappearing middle class. This movement is about millions of lost jobs at the wave of a hand. This movement is about a bloated financial system that is desperately in need of substantial reform. Make no mistake, when the world's largest unsustainable financial system finally bursts, it's taking everyone down with it. It's taking every bank account, every 401(k), every lease, every mortgage, every smartphone; all of it. This is, in no uncertain terms, a fight for a stable, financial reality. And in 21st century America, this means a fight for survival.
It's no secret that Americans are angry and losing faith in the two major political parties at a record clip, and elected officials should consider themselves on probation right now. Nearly every American citizen was negatively affected by the Crash of 2008. People are still feeling the swift and severe effects of that collapse, but they are now also feeling a taste for their own power as active, empowered citizens. Once they realize the full potential of this democratic power, they will not support those officials who do not accurately represent the wishes of the communities that put them into offices. Those elected officials who stand up now and vocalize their support for the most broadly appealing public movement since the American Revolution will be remembered fondly by the voters.
Certainly all voters don't agree on the specifics of their anger; some people blame Bush, some blame Obama, some people blame the House, some blame the Senate. However, nearly everyone blames a hysterically-inflated market run by reckless financial firms who knew that the taxpayer would get screwed twofold in the end with another government-sanctioned bailout.
Don't let a simple-minded media distort the message. Business in this country needs to be allowed to do business. However, an unchecked collusion of profitlust between our business and our elected officials will continue to engender legislation that will only widen the wealth disparity in a country where the top 1 percent currently takes home 40 percent of all income; a level not seen since 1929. Does that year ring a bell? This isn't a call to dismantle our business infrastructure, but a call to separate business from our government and to accept the fact that deregulation does not lead to self-regulation. It never has, and it never will. Have you ever wiped beef jerky stains off a married man's cheek after his wife has been out of town for a few days?... Yeah.
As every day passes, more and more people are realizing that elected officials aren't put into office by magic, coincidence, foregone conclusion or even by well-edited commercials. Our citizenry is beginning to truly understand the unbridled power it wields in selecting the legislators of the United States of America. The Occupy Movement could become what we were all told Wall Street was; only this time, the people won't have to take the government's word for it. This time, it will be the people who decide whether or not they themselves are "too big to fail."