Tuesday, October 25, 2011

#OccupyCynicism

Andrew Sullivan warms up to the #OccupyStuff folks, in spite of himself. They have picked the exact right target at the exact right time.

From the late 1940s to the early 1970s, the median American household saw its income double. Since then: a screeching halt, or barely a 5 percent rise in incomes for the less-affluent 90 percent of Americans. But between 1979 and 2007, the top 1 percent saw their incomes soar by 281 percent. Add to that the collapse in home values, and soaring costs for health insurance and college, and it becomes remarkable that we haven’t seen much more unrest.


I have to say, I'm still very cynical about the #OccupyStuff folks. I can't help it, it is just the knee jerk reaction after trying so hard to get people involved for so long. They always had other things to do. There was never any time for the "government stuff." I was actually told one time that "politics were complicated." They walk around shouting "we're not going to take it anymore" and then don't show up to vote.

Hell, I told the same things to Tea Party types, or anyone who complained about politics, really. The conversation often comes to an abrupt halt when I ask, "well, you voiced your opinion about that at the school board, didn't you?" Because the truth is, it is far easier to complain over a beer than it is to affect positive political change in your community. Once you start getting involved, you see that all the crowd-pleasing sound bytes come down to somebody's political connection getting a contract from someone you thought you'd support because they say all the right things in front of the camera.

Now, I'm not the expert on being involved - far from it. I participate where I can when I can, and that really isn't a whole lot. But I show up enough to tell you that there are plenty of folks who would rather protest in the streets than show up at meetings where decisions get made.

And yet, despite the ridiculous drum circles and Che Guevara t-shirts (how cli-CHE), I can't help but wonder if whatever this thing is might actually bring about some positive change. Maybe people will be inspired to take back control of their own government and institutions. Maybe people will figure out that if they like a certain standard of living, then no, they don't have anything better to do.

That would be a big change.

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