I have been leery about weighing in on the whole Occupy movement at the risk of sounding too liberal.
Ha ha, I know. You can climb back into your chair now. Like I need to give my critics another reason to get ticked off.
But seeing as the cause continues to gain more momentum rather than peter out, I can’t just ignore it.
The latest high-profile action occurred Wednesday when thousands of protesters peacefully shut down the port of Oakland.
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Then, darkness fell, and a small group of hooligans took over, confronting police, smashing windows and vandalizing buildings. The actions of those few, however, shouldn’t be seen as representing the whole.
Yes, the Occupy movement isn’t quite the perfectly oiled and polished operation we saw from the Tea Party last year. But overall, it’s still a beautiful thing, if for no other reason than this: People are getting involved.
They may have a thousand lofty, passionate reasons or none more ambitious than a hot meal. But whatever their motivation, they are gathering and making their presence known.
The big rap against the cause so far has been that it’s a motley assemblage of disparate voices who can’t distill their message into a single understandable demand. That may be true, but it doesn’t mean the movement has no center or no unifying message.
It does have a message, and that is disenfranchisement, however that personally manifests itself.
It is the graduating college senior disenfranchised from his future because he’s saddled with $100,000 in student loan debt.
It’s the Iraq war veterans disenfranchised from their career hopes by a foundering economy and meager support from the government they served.
It’s the laid-off teacher disillusioned about her passion when our government places more priority on prisons than schools.
It’s the young family dislodged from the American dream because the mortgage on their home is now $50,000 underwater.
It’s the 75-year-old retiree disgusted in his golden years by political candidates who threaten to cut Medicare and Social Security like so much unneeded chaff.
It’s any person disenfranchised from their faith in what is the most carefully conceived and balanced political system in the history of the world, but one that’s seen greed and cronyism erode the democratic values at its foundation.
So, more power to ’em, whether they’re in a tent on Monterey Street or climbing railroad trestles in Oakland.
They are not a bunch of dirty hippies or refugees from the 1960s. They are regular people voicing their anger, and politicians would be wise to lend them an ear.
We are now in the midst of a notable period of public discontent, and the outcry is altering corporate and political decision-making that in the past might simply have steamrolled them in pursuit of the almighty dollar.
See Netflix and Bank of America and even the Los Angeles Dodgers, whose boneheaded owner finally read the outrage on the chatroom wall and agreed to sell the team amid a fan exodus. How the mighty can fall when they abuse the good will of the people.
You may not agree with Occupy Wall Street, but you can’t deny the nobility of its effort.
Email Joe Tarica at firstname.lastname@example.org.