a crumbling pillar in our democracy

“Let me draw a distinction,” said former House Speaker and 2012 Republican presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich in Hanover, New Hampshire in early October of this year.  “Virtually every American has a reason to be angry. I think virtually [every] American has a reason to be worried. I think the people who are protesting in Wall Street break into two groups: one is left-wing agitators who would be happy to show up next week on any other topic, and the other is sincere middle-class people who frankly are very close to the Tea Party people who care. And actually… you can tell which are which. The people who are decent, responsible citizens pick up after themselves. The people who are just out there as activists trash the place and walk off and are proud of having trashed it, so let’s draw that distinction.”

Mr. Gingrich couldn’t have said it better.  There was a clear distinction to make with Occupy Wall Street and having been there myself I couldn’t have agreed more.

However, in late November Mr. Gingrich was quoted as telling the OWS protesters to “Go get a job right after you take a bath.”  His first statement was spot on accurate.  His second was simply ignorant and hypocritical though probably got him some right wing laughs.  Did this mean Mr. Gingrich was hiring?  Did it mean the bankers holding signs that said “Occupy a desk” had jobs to give out?

Whether you agree or not with Occupy Wall Street (and there is plenty of room for both) the conversation it brings up is not something that should be ignored or silenced.  I don’t think anyone can agree with legalized insider trading and Wall Street’s controlling influence on Washington as being something that’s totally okay for a functioning democracy.  You can disagree with the protesters, the encampments and the way in which the entire thing is going about, but the very core of the conversation is something that is hard to dismiss as Americans.  I’m not talking about all of the excess that OWS brings with it, I’m talking about the main idea, the central message.  To say there is nothing wrong with legalized insider trading within a seemingly bought Congress and the monied corruption of democracy is simply defending corruption.

There is another major misconception that a lot of agenda driven media is spouting that says OWS is turning to the government to do something for them because they don’t have jobs.  Although for some misguided protesters this may be true, it’s inaccurate about the movement as a whole.  The occupiers want a response from the government and society, they want major changes enacted, they want regulation and de-regulation, they want a balance where there doesn’t seem to be any.  The far left want everything regulated and the far right want no regulation at all.  Both of these are wrong.  I don’t see any occupiers asking the government to be the ones to give them jobs, in fact, I see much of the opposite.

Some of the conversations I have had with occupiers have been some of the most constructive and intelligent discussions I have had all year.  (mostly among smaller groups such as in broken up General Assemblies or cities with smaller Occupy factions such as Atlantic City) A fellow reporter friend of mine and I have seen many who can quote whole sections of the Constitution and have an economic and philosophical grasp on many parts of this economy far better than we do.  And it’s just funny that both Congress and the President have consistently failed to engage in anything even resembling some of the conversations as constructive as the many I have witnessed at Occupy Wall Street, Philly and Atlantic City. (despite what agenda driven media might be telling you).  I have watched as “young people teaching each other about, among other things, how the economy works, about the disconnection of investment banking from the economy of goods and services, the history of centralized interest-bearing currency, the creation and growth of the derivatives industry, and about the Obama administration deciding to settle with, rather than investigate and prosecute the investment banking industry for housing fraud.” (Rushkoff)

It is true that Washington’s policies are what brought America to this economic calamity, but why did Washington have those policies in the first place?  Well, now we find ourselves back on Wall Street.

Occupy Wall Street is not against capitalism, it’s not against the top 1% owning however much of the wealth it owns or begrudging other people’s success, it is against those who lie, cheat and steal and trample others to get there.  Let’s face it, a lot of that 1% has done just that, definitely not all, but why aren’t those in obvious violation not being jailed and instead peaceful demonstrators are?  Something has to be wrong in a country with 10 million foreclosures, and 20 percent of homeowners upside down in their mortgages. There are things big corporations do really well, like make iPhones.  There are other things big corporations don’t do well, like structure mortgage derivatives. Why can’t we just use corporations for what works, and get them out of what doesn’t?  Is that such a dreadful thing to stand for?

For decades Americans ignored this entwining of politics and money because of their own personal greed and laziness, and as we have discovered, there’s a lot of money to be made in corruption.  So much so that corruption should be defended.  And so here we are.

As much as agenda driven media tries to make it sound that occupiers are against people making a certain amount of money, from what I have observed, Occupiers (the logical coherent ones) aren’t saying that at all, rather they talk of taking responsibility and not screwing people over because that’s un-american.  Though, for some reason, over the years, it’s actually become very american.

Everyone gets so bent out of shape when they say tax the rich, as if it’s a personal attack on the rich for being rich… another agenda driven media spin that so many so quickly buy into.. They’re saying tax the rich because a lot of the rich don’t actually pay taxes!  So maybe they should re-word their signs to say, “Tax the rich that arent paying their taxes” i.e. Verizon, Wells Fargo, AT&T… the list goes on.  Rather than taxes, their money is spent on lobbying Washington.

In the midst of misguided agenda driven right and left politics and media, that’s the real story, friends.

Most occupiers are against President Obama since he’s taken more from Wall Street and is viewed as a corporate puppet, so if his campaign tries to manipulate occupy to help re-elect the President, I can’t see it happening or working, at least from those who are informed and aware.  Besides, according to the far right wing media the occupiers are a fringe group that no one agrees with so why on earth would a president want to win ‘them’ over?  Obviously,the core message, as the polls show, is agreed upon by most Americans, right, left, independent, whatever..

There are some conservatives, however, that do believe the occupiers are onto something and that the banks do have too much power and that wages have been stagnant. A lot of people agree with that.  The problem, of course, remains that Occupy Wall Street doesn’t really know what to do about any of the problems it laments.  Though, I have personally seen and heard some very tangible and constructive solutions to local issues, some of which have already been met, and it;s because people worked together.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media has brought about the cracking of a huge pillar in our democracy.  Don’t be fooled, what you’re watching isn’t really the news anymore, friends.  It’s a version of it for sure, but it’s not news in the traditional sense.  These news organizations are owned by major corporations that have specific agendas, interests and investments, so do you really think they would do anything that could damage any of that?  Even if they have to report on something that potentially could endanger their agenda, interests or investments they put the spin on right away, left and right.  Wake up America, look how polarized the media has made you, or I guess I should say, the major corporations that own the media have made you, the corporations that also own congress.. see, now it’s starting to look more like propaganda, right or left.. either or.

I’m just amazed at how people just eat it up and regurgitate it as fact.  It’s up to us to find the truth on our own, to dig deeper, but that’s asking too much of Americans.  They much rather be handed their information from their sources that are of course in their political camps, trust their camps sources and call it a day.

I don’t think OWS was ever meant to be this partisian war that it’s been turned it into.  I remember being there on day one and now to see just how hijacked it has been by agendas.  Never in living memory has a movement been so widely scrutinized and yet so deeply misunderstood..

All I’m saying is this:  don’t see a clear injustice and ignore it or act like it shouldnt be talked about and that these people should all go home and pretend everything is cool with America and that Wall Street is doing everything right when we know it’s not and then say you really care about America.  You don’t have to agree with OWS, but you can agree that there is something wrong in need of major fixing with fault resting on ourselves, Washington, Wall Street and the big banks.

This whole era of uprisings from all ends of the spectrum’s is really about doing something different, so something different happens so that there is change and progress for all.  If Americans came together and pooled their resources to make their dreams come true again some people would freak out over any sort of talk of “working together” because that’s socialism, to work together.  So America should be a cut throat world of conquer and greed without caring for each other as citizens?

I’m just sick and tired of being called a liberal by conservatives and a conservative by liberals because I call them both out when need be.  I refuse to commit to either of them and have become increasingly frustrated with both of them to the point where I think they truly are what’s wrong with America.  Their immense gargantuan polarization has created the biggest problem there is.

My good friend Geoff wrote that “America is on the precipice of collapse or greatness, depending on what we choose to see. I like to think we are on the edge of greatness. After all, we have pulled through many crises since our beginning by pulling together. Our country was born of crisis, from the division that economic injustice brought forward. It just needs to be re-born with new formulas coming forth.”

He writes that we can change the world and give capitalism a new lift and that with Americans awake at the grass-roots level, occupying public spaces and holding Tea Party rallies there are so many things on which we can all agree.  That’s exactly where we need to start.



 

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