When I signed on to be one of the managing editors of Scope Magazine, I knew that I was affiliating myself with a very liberal group of locals, but I didn’t think much about how this would affect me until the magazine covered the demonstration at Pfizer last week. If someone asked me what I really thought about the movement, what would I say?
I have have been a liberal and registered Democrat since I was old enough to vote, and for the most part I am never shy about sharing my opinion when it comes to politics and political talking points.. until the Occupy Wall Street movement burst into existance last fall.
Like many people I have talked to about the Occupy movement, I was confused at first. I got that these people were protesting big banks, Wall Street traders, and massive corporations that donated to campaigns, but as there was no cohesive message or voice behind the movement, it took a long time for me to think they had any credibility. Because, what do these people really want? What exactly are they protesting?
Well, the reason I have always kept mum about the subject until now, is that I pretty much thought the whole time that it didn’t matter what they were protesting – it just mattered that people were out there doing it.
There are things in this country that are completely wrecked – things that I will jump at the chance to argue with people about: women’s equality, the death penalty, health care, and of course, as the Occupy movement has highlighted, income (in)equality.
But who cares about my argument? I think to myself. I am just one person flapping my jaws, how can I possibly change anything or make my voice matter?
Well, that answer is pretty simple. We as Americans have been doing it for over three hundred years with great success. You just get a bunch of people together who have the same ideas and want the same things, and you yell until the people in charge start to listen. I may be oversimplifying things, but hey, protesting literally gave us America as it is today (England didn’t just let us get away), it freed the slaves, it got us liquor back, it gave me the right to vote, and maybe it will even help keep me the right I currently have to abortion.
So I am not going to laugh at the people singing in the back of the paddywagon after their arrest at Pfizer – I’m going to praise them. Yes, they look silly. Yes, it might even seem that even they think the protest is all a joke. But guess what? They did exactly what they intended to do. They got on the news. They got people talking about them. They got people to pay attention.
At first, I was wary about openly supporting the Occupy movement. I still don’t know much about the movement itself, I still don’t know if they have any key players now or if the group has coalesced to stand behind something, and still, I don’t think it matters. I support them anyway. I will support any person who has in themselves enough conviction to stand around somewhere with a sign, because damnit, that is what America is about.
So to those naysayers who believe that the Occupiers are a bunch of wackos with nothing better to do, I say to you now: Do you hate America? Or did you just forget what America is all about?
Well then, let me use this snippet from the Declaration of Independence to remind you:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s still how America operates.
Although it may seem like a ragtag operation, the Occupiers know exactly what they are doing – they are working our political system exactly as it was intended. They are speaking out against what they consider to be destructive in government. You may not have to agree with them – and certainly, I don’t agree with all of them – but as an American, it is my opinion that you have to respect what they are doing, and dare I say, you should support the very act of the protest that they are demonstrating.
You don’t like who is representing you in government? Get your ass on the campaign trail and do something about it. Make a phone call. Knock on a door. Hold a sign. Motherfuckers, VOTE.
But when the representatives we have elected aren’t doing right by us, when we are still faced with so many problems, injustices and insecurities – when we just CAN’T wait for the next election? We congregate together and we protest. We speak out. We OCCUPY.
Because it is our right. Because it is our duty. Because standing around with a sign is a whole hell of a lot more fun than it looks like on television.