Remember Remember the 17th of September
In 2011 there was the Occupy movement . Thousands of people participated in marches and demonstrations protesting the influence of corporations on the government and inequalities of the economic & social sectors of the United States. While admittedly not very organized with their message, these groups brought up issues that were overlooked by the public. Those who subconsciously knew something had been wrong for quite a while, also the news media whose sole job was to provide checks and balances for the public over those who govern them.
Those who joined the various Occupy movements across the country were derided by many as kids not knowing what they were talking about. The actual average age was closer to 30 and they knew exactly what they were talking about. However, since they weren’t part of the political elite or were so passionate about their cause(s), they weren’t seen as articulate enough to be bothered with. There were others who were apathetic to the issues and refused to look at the writing on the walls, even though many of the issues were happening to their own parents and friends. Those who did take part in the movement were portrayed as hippies who just wanted to “bang on their drums and not work.” There was a consensus in the news media that they had nothing of merit and should just go away because they weren’t going to accomplish anything. Anyone who really listened knew that the grievances that were being put forth were legitimate, they just didn’t like the messengers. I actually found it interesting that many college aged kids take a semester off or right after graduation go travel to some far off “exotic” location, yet those who were trying to be active in the political system were met with such disdain.
Now approximately five years later, many of the very same beliefs seem to be the core of the message of Bernie Sanders and his followers. Sanders speaks of the very same bailouts that people marched on Wall Street for. He has speech after speech talked about how the people have been and still are taken advantage of while corporations, donors, and lobbyists make record profits and influence elections. It feels as if from the ashes of one revolution another may being springing forth. My concern is that once again people aren’t really listening and paying attention. What once was a poster than someone carried as they physically marched has become a meme that they simply click share or like. What once was debate between people who looked each other in the eye has become online arguments where no one is listening and people are just trying to score imaginary points.
My biggest concern is that like the Occupy movement, Sanders supporters will begin to scatter to the wind once major roadblocks occur like his near zero chance of winning the Democratic nomination. While Mr. Sanders said he will continue the fight to the Democratic convention in July, the question is will his supporters continue in September, October and well past election day? Will they attempt to vote third party out of spite or even worse sit out election day because they didn’t get their way?
The issue at large with both movements is there is no organizing body directing the message and crafting it in a way to engage newcomers. With Occupy they had the belief that there should be no “leader” and everyone had an equal voice. That’s the major reason things were so disorganized. With Sanders and his supporters he’s a great figure head but he’s still just a senator and also not young and as such must rely on others to know what’s on the minds of the people. There needs to be some type of organization since it’s not just do you agree, but why you agree. More importantly it’s about trying to engage others who don’t know, don’t care, or don’t agree in a way that the message is clear, concise and easy to understand. It’s simple to say “college should be free” but it take forethought explain how an educated society benefits everyone in multiple ways.
What is only sometimes addressed is the core issue, the elected officials who make the real decisions. It’s doesn’t matter if the people all want something, like how a large majority want cannabis decriminalization, it’s up to the lawmakers to act on their will. If there is to be real change there needs to be a progressive answer to the Tea Party.
I’m not calling for an exact one to one version that is willing to do the underhanded things that the Tea Party has done, but there needs to be an official group that is willing to come together, promote, fund, and campaign for candidates at all levels of government that will fight for progressive values that both Occupy and Bernie Sanders have championed across the board. It doesn’t matter who or how many likes or re-tweets something gets, if someone in power doesn’t take that argument into the chambers behind the closed doors and fight for it, it’s all for nothing. I don’t know how this should take shape. It could mean that people en mass should register (and donate) to the Green Party, which could bolster the creation of a viable third party or if they should, like the Tea Party has, change Democratic Party from within. There are smarter people than myself who want progressive change and should be able to come up with a definitive course of action.
All I know is this could be just another “remember when” moment or something that can be looked back positively as the beginning of a true revolution. Only history will decide.