(Cross-posted at Saint Petersblog & Daily Kos)
“There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear…”
Steven Stills wrote those opening lines of Buffalo Springfield’s classic protest song, “For What It’s Worth”, in 1966. It wasn’t just the Vietnam War tearing America apart at the time. It was the struggle for Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and some measure of socioeconomic stability for America’s millions of poor, elderly and disabled citizens.
It’s no accident that the social unrest and political activism marking those years was accompanied by historic enactment of the Civil Rights Act, Medicare and Medicaid, by a Democratic Congress and President, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who even declared ”War On Poverty” in 1964.
Fast-forward to 2011. The war on poverty was long ago abandoned. In its place, a different, undeclared war rages on, a war made possible by the steadily expanding control of America’s government and economy by giant multinational corporations; a War On The Middle and Lower Classes, waged for years now by Big Banks, Wall Street, Big Oil, Big Defense, Big Insurance, Big Pharma…
And what we’re about to start seeing all across Florida and America in the coming days, is that steadily increasing numbers of people from every corner and walk of American life, everyday people who have been under economic siege for so many years, are finally ready to enlist for battle – nonviolent battle, civil disobedience, peaceful protest…Push Back.
The turning point seems to have come with “Occupy Wall Street” in NYC. It started small, and just kept growing. This week in lower Manhattan, many, many thousands will be marching in support of that action, which has now become a nationwide effort to help “the 99% take action against the greed and corruption of the 1%”, as aptly put on the national “Occupy Together” website.
From “Occupy Los Angeles”, to “Occupy DC” and “October 2011” in Washington, to the newly emergent “Occupy Miami”, “Occupy Tampa” and other efforts in Florida (following on the footsteps of and converging with “Awake The State”); what’s happening here and now is the growth of an authentic New American Resistance, a People’s Movement pushing to restore and build anew the tattered and torn socioeconomic safety nets and ladders of upward mobility that once made our nation great.
Here in Florida, we’ve just gotten two successive reports that underline the local effects of the War on The Middle And Lower Classes. First came the study showing that three million Floridians are now living in poverty – one of every six adult residents, one of every four children under the age of 18. Chew on that for a moment. Then, consider the report that followed a month later, the one showing that FL is now the fifth worst state in the nation in terms of the gap between Rich and Poor residents, as “those at the top continue to garner an increasing share of household income in a stunning shift in income.”
So, even in the sometimes slow to figure things out – and hard to figure out – Sunshine State, there’s the growing understanding that something is very wrong with the way things have been done for quite a long time.
More and more people are questioning and then rejecting the cockamamie claims of Governor “Pink Slip” Rick Scott, Senate President Mike “Dirty Hari” Haridopolos, House Speaker Dean “Loose” Cannon, and a host of other self-labeled “hardcore” Republican Party Of Florida conservatives – embarrassing claims that even after 12+ years of GOP state control and tax & regulation rollbacks, Florida’s biggest economic problems are…yeah, right – too many taxes and regulations on corporations.
Such ridiculous illogic and outright hypocrisy has a way of helping fertilize the ground for oppositional activism. That’s why we’re likely to see Florida play an increasingly important role in this new movement.
The Tea Party set the table when it got cooking a few years ago. Fed up with and confused by the war being waged on them by corporate elites and the corrupted elected officials in their service, an assortment of middle class and working poor people were finally ready to express their anger and frustration in organized, attention-getting ways. But then most of them got gobbled up and led astray by the very corporate generals - like the Koch Brothers – who were covertly waging war against them.
Yet over the last year or two, scores of other “class warfare” victims – foreclosed-upon, unemployed and under-employed, benefits & pension-stripped, public service and other union workers, uninsured, seniors, and millions of young people who can’t afford college, can’t pay back college loans, and can’t find work after graduation – individually and collectively, they all started seeing their common corporate-political enemies more clearly than ever. And now, that awareness is translating into action.
Like the Tea Party, they’re making their case in public demonstrations, and through social media venues like Facebook, Twitter & YouTube. But unlike the Tea Party, this movement has not been misinformed, misled and co-opted by the likes of Koch Industries, Inc. and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Empire. Yes, it’s still early on, and yes, there may be other organizations that try to “use” this movement. But it won’t be easy.
For also unlike the Tea Party, it is a genuinely organic, grassroots movement. In this 2011 American Autumn, it is evolving naturally, in differing ways in different cities – but with shared priorities such as:
• Regulating and prosecuting Wall Street firms and Big Banks more aggressively and retroactively than has yet been done.
• Getting corporate money out of politics, starting with repeal of the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United ruling.
• Enacting industrial and trade policies that rebuild America’s manufacturing base and prevent outsourcing of jobs overseas.
It would be unwise and incorrect to mistake differing priorities as indicative of discord, disunity or lack of focus. For they overlap, intersect and jointly reflect a common goal: Pressing the reset button on American priorities and policies, by wrestling the balance and benefits of decision-making power away from giant for-profit corporations.
The earliest vanguard of this movement may have consisted of college students and young adults who want and deserve a better future in the USA – once known as the “Land Of Opportunity”, remember? But plenty of other victims of a corporate-controlled economy have joined them.
Dramatic photos of hundreds of uniformed airline pilots proudly marching down to the Wall Street protest last week painted quite a picture of the “something” that is happening; there in NYC, here in FL and in so many other places around the country now.
Whether or not this train is bound for glory remains to be seen, but it sure is gaining momentum, picking up passengers from coast to coast.
More and more folks in “The Center” are seeing that whatever its original intention, the Tea Party’s anti-tax/anti-government “movement” has in fact turned Anti-American; advancing the same economic and political agendas so doggedly pursued by corporations committed to nothing other than expanding their profits, power, and control over our national economy; power and control that when left unchallenged from 2001-2008, led to our current, epic economic crisis.
The moral of this story is: Keep your eyes, ears and mind wide open. Don’t let yourself – or friends, family, neighbors, coworkers – be deceived into thinking that this new movement is all about “Kids”, “Unions”, “Liberals”, “The Left”, or any other stereotypical labels that mainstream corporate media lean on lazily as they tell only little pieces of the story. In reality, countless numbers of middle-aged, middle class, working class, retired, moderate, independent and even conservative people are joining this movement every day, each in their own way.
Hell…You May Be Next.
Or for what it’s worth, as Steven Stills put it in 1966…
“There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down”