As people who read this blog know, I have been supportive of Occupy Wall Street, even though it hasn’t done anything. Even without demands, even without violence, even without leaders, though, the movement has done something. In fact, it has done more than leaders, pundits, violence, budgets, etc., have done for years. It has changed the debate. Liberals, for so long used as a swear word in debates, can now speak again, and proclaim their liberalness.
Banks, for so long able to do what they wanted, have started to act like “fairness” is a virtue. Webster Bank the other day ran an ad here that said, “We wouldn’t charge you an extra fee — like some other banks — (wink, wink, nod, nod… Bank of America) because that wouldn’t be fair“. This is the same bank that has charged us overdraft fees in such a way as to collect the most money for the fewest transactions for years. Now they think such things might be unfair. Now fairness counts. Now “fairness” is popular.
Republican candidates, still arguing in the debates over who is the most conservative\capitalist\patriot among them are falling on deaf ears. Now, we wonder if Conservatism = Capitalism=Patriotism. Democrats who still use the same equation are also falling on deaf ears, because there is another equation: Speaking Out=Democracy=Patriotism which is vying for the airwaves. Even “Joe the Plumber”, a conservative icon, is now saying “They are not all communists. Many of them (at Occupy) are just plain disgruntled Americans. I support the disgruntled Americans part.”
Fox News, which has controlled the news and the debate for so long, now is being told by protesters “Fox lies”. One of those sides has millions of dollars, hundreds of TV and radio stations, and lobbyists in Washington donating to politicians campaigns. The other has power. Go figure — democracy by the 99% has begun to challenge “Patriotism” by the 1%. Even charges of “class warfare” from candidates using “spin doctor” techniques and sound-bites simply fall to the floor.
If we look at my post of a while ago, “Some Demands”, there has been some movement on them. Recently, two senators proposed a Constitutional Amendment repealing the Citizen’s United decision which said, “Corporations have the same rights as people”. This was one of my “demands”. I also complained about fees on debit cards, and B of A has taken back their fee. The people occupying Wall Street, and our consciousness now, have started reminding us that “those who have the gold don’t make the rules”, which was my first demand, if I had had a movement. In short, since I don’t speak for them, they speak for me. They give my voice amplification, even if they-don’t-know-me-from a-whole-in-the-ground. I suspect that they give other people’s voices amplification as well.
As the winter storms continue, I had the image of Valley Forge stuck in my head: patriots freezing in the snow, choosing to do so because an idea of a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” stayed in their hearts and called them to do what they feel is right. Yes, by the way, I know it’s an anachronistic image (Lincoln’s words with Washington’s troops), but the possibility of a new generation thinking about each other as patriots would be a welcome sight, even as it takes in the whole scope of American history. Of course, there is no way to know if they will Occupy through the winter, but it was a fascinating mental image and one I would support.
So, for now, here’s to Occupy Wall Street and it’s brothers and sisters around the country. For people who haven’t done anything, they’ve sure done a lot.