Saturday, October 15, 2011

I am the 99%

Mark this day: the first day I marched in the streets for anything. 

I should have done more to get Al Gore elected but I didn’t. I should have marched in the streets when Bush picked a fight with Iraq but I didn’t. I should have joined the fight to throw Bush out of office in 2004 but I didn’t. I don’t know if my one voice would have made a difference, but if I’m thinking this now, how many others are thinking the same thing?

Look at all these law-abiding, God-fearing Vancouverators. Not a hippy in the bunch. Okay, I saw one hippy.

It turns out that I got my answer today, because the Occupy Vancouver protest was filled with people who looked a lot like me. I’m guessing the average age was 40. Maybe 45. Lots of union signs, shirts, and jackets. Many vets. Some young people, but more seniors. The surprising thing was, in this red pocket of a blue state, Protest organizers’ hopes of getting 200 attendees were satisfied three or four times over, as the crowd was estimated at 600 to 700 people (although those of us spread out for blocks and blocks through the downtown area were wondering whether it was closer to 1,000).

You might be able to tell in this photo how the line of marchers snakes around the traffic circle up ahead and winds back around. Lots of Vancouverators!

One thing I learned was that protesting takes a lot of patience. In an ultra-democratic group like this one, it is important (apparently) to hear from everybody who wants to speak. So put your spongiest insoles in your shoes and prepare for some standing around while clapping and wooting. That is an hour and a half of clapping and wooting before the march and another hour after. I wandered off to the farmer’s market during the final hour, but I felt my body was counted in that attendance number by then, so my mission had been accomplished.

This was not the only octogenarian in attendance.

During the march, since I didn’t have a sign to hold or a drum to drum, I took it upon myself to be the Designated Cop Thanker. Vancouver Police had our backs at all the crosswalks, stopping (sometimes grumpy) drivers to let us pass. After the march we were told that the all the VPD members volunteered their time to patrol the march. Double thanks, then.

This speaker was quoting from Matthew 31 - 46. Look it up.

What was I marching for? I was marching because we have all but given up on thinking that our votes mean anything anymore. We don’t own the government. The lobbyists do. And Wall Street and the multibillion-dollar, multinational corporations own the lobbyists. We don’t have a real voice any more. We are being sold our next representative, senator and president by whoever has the most money to make the most ads. And we as humans seem powerless to resist doing whatever the majority of the ads on TV tell us to. Hell, Murdoch’s machine bought a cable station that he can run political ads on 24 hours a day and call it news! So many humans seem unable to question the veracity of what they are seeing on TV.

That’s what I was marching for.

What should we do? There’s a lot to do, like pushing for meaningful wall street reform. However, the thing that would make the most difference in our nation’s convalescence from its current corrupt state is the banning of campaign donations of any kind. It would pay us back a hundred-fold if campaigns were solely state financed. Not only would every candidate have an even playing field, but no candidate could be purchased with campaign money.

That’s a start, although an unfeasible one. Matt Taibbi has some ideas. They can be found here. I’ll stop taking up your time so you can go there now.

P.S.: Here is some more reading material about the scary income inequality and middle class income stagnancy in the country:

P.P.S.: Oh, and all the signs were spelled correctly.