The latest phenomenon in our streets is both upsetting and fascinating. Upsetting in that normal, red-blooded, everyday, middle class Americans feel they have to take to demonstrations to get the attention of our nations political power structure. Fascinating because the bulk of the demonstrators – not all but most – are normal, red-blooded, everyday, middle class Americans doing what our history tells them to do in peaceful assembly.

Marchers in “Occupy Wall Street” – or whatever it’s called in your town – have multiple messages: the national political structure is broken and unresponsive to the basic needs of citizens; higher-ups in the financial world that bear great responsibility for our lousy economic state have, thus far, gone unpunished; American workers need jobs; outlier ideologies have strangled our national politics; billionaires are making more billions while the people who do the work from which all that profit comes are sinking into an economic hole that has all but killed their American dream. There may be more sub-texts but those cover most of the participants.

I support them. Were they to march in my little Southwest Oregon community – where unemployment exceeds 14% – I’d join them. But there will be no marches here because it’s easier to sit in the bars and blame Pres. Obama and the Democrats.

Having used the adjectives “upsetting” and “fascinating,” let me add a third that raises my blood pressure as I contemplate all this: ignorance. Congressional leadership ignorance. So far, nearly all of it Republican. If Democrats add their voices to the ignorant GOP in the future, then a pox on their houses, too.

Several of the $164,000 a year GOP/TP “leaders” in Congress have called marchers “un-American,” described their gatherings as “mobs,” labeled them “anti-capitalist,” accusing them of “class warfare.” Having finished their slander, Cantor, King, Issa, Paul, Bachmann, et al adjourn to the Congressional Club to enjoy their $12 bourbon and branch water while watching themselves on national TV.

Making such accusations proves they have not listened. Or, having listened, proves them incapable of representing the very people they are supposed to be serving. They’re that insulated; that ideologically pure; that ignorant of what’s happening in their own “home” districts. That arrogant.

If you want to label people in the streets supporters of class warfare, start with the egregious Tea Party and the billionaire backers without whom it would not exist. Highly paid organizers, thousands of printed placards and signs, racist parodies of the President, sidearms; hundreds of busses to take marchers from place to place, speakers – including members of Congress – who propose shutting down the federal government, discriminatory attacks on voting laws, overt support to change the social fabric of this nation. You want to talk “class warfare?”

One interest I have so far in the “Occupy” demonstrations is lack of any of the above. It’s reading individualized, hand-lettered signs on cardboard box bottoms. It’s the absence of threatening language or display. It’s the messages of need for positive change rather than challenges to authority or mocking the country’s leaders. It’s the absence of weapons. It’s listening to teachers, librarians, out-of-work professionals, firefighters, well-spoken students, seniors who are worried about their kids futures. It’s the apparent lack of organization or leadership that have marked their efforts thus far.

I think these people will stay in the streets for awhile. To me, the critical things to watch in all this are whether demonstrations can be sustained, how costs will be paid, what leadership develops and where it will come from. While labor unions may play a part in certain areas, if it’s union-driven nationally, that will not be a good thing. The strongest bond these marchers have right now is their breadth of participants. All are welcome. No litmus test. No ideology pledge. No membership card. Just bring your own reason and join the march. But, to be effective, there will have to be organization from some quarter.

Rather than the “class warfare” arrogant Republican voices are decrying, these people represent – more than any other recent group – an honest, from-the-heart, spontaneous outpouring of citizens with legitimate issues. There are no threats. No attempts to intimidate. No phony moralizing. No flag-waving, trumped-up patriotism. No weaponry.

We became a nation because we had grievances. We’ve remained a nation because we addressed grievances. It is totally within our national character to be in the streets when grievances are ignored by those in power. As is the case right now.

One Response to “I wish they’d march in my neighborhood but they won’t”

  1. Ziggy Says:

    Kudos to you! I hadn’t thought of that!