For a very long time,I have felt extremely depressed and dispirited by the state of American politics and society. My disillusionment goes back decades, in fact, all the way to the 1980 presidential campaign, when President Carter battled in vain against the rising tide of American conservatism which would deliver Ronald Reagan, with his promises of tax cuts, smaller government, and more "freedom" to the White House. Carter warned that the election of his opponent would result in a tearing apart of American society with an increasing division of rich from poor, black from white, and so forth. Boy, was Carter ever right, and was America ever wrong to follow the siren-song of Reagan's smiling, flag-draped conservatism, with its grim undertones of racism, greed and militarism.
In the three decades since President Raygun took office, the conservative vision of America has dominated our political life and determined some very important social trends. Accomplishments of this era including an ever-increasing prison population, with a disproportionately high number of African-American males incarcerated, with devastating social consequences for African-American communities; an ever-increasing gap between rich and poor, which has now become better and more widely understood thanks to the "Occupy" movement; stagnation in wages for most Americans who live through paychecks rather than stock portfolios and investment dividends; an ever-expanding and ever-more expensive military domination of the world, from Reagan's Star Wars fantasies to Bush's invasions to Obama's love affair with remote control political assassination by drone; and a triumph of anti-tax, anti-government, anti-regulation, tax-cutting-solves-everything rhetoric, typified by Grover Norquist's "No New Taxes Ever For All Eternity" pledge, now followed religiously by nearly all Republican Presidential candidates, the intention of which Norquist explained as "shrinking the federal government so that it can be strangled in a bathtub," with the result that apart from blank-check military spending, our government is constrained from engaging in any kind of large government programs that might actually improves the lives of average people, from infrastructure repair to mass transit development to more support for public schools to lower cost higher education to the development of green technologies. This is Reagan's "Morning in America," and it has had a good long run of 30 plus years in ruling the mindset of the vast majority of Americans and setting the parameters of American public life...UNTIL NOW.
Occupy Wall Street has blown this tired old set of ideas and assumptions out of the water, and opened up a whole new menu of questions and possibilities for Americans to ponder. FINALLY people are realizing that government is not to blame for stagnant wages, a crashed economy, and immense suffering grounded in extreme social and economic inequality: it is the financial and corporate elite who are most responsible, as they are the ones who have been reaping great benefits while raping the rest of us. They are the ones who have made great profits with every increase in oil prices, every rise in penalties and fees on credit cards and bank accounts, every ingeniously misrepresented mortgage, every foreclosure on the poor, every lay off of workers, every pay cut to employees, every movement of factories to China and other low-wage, low-regulation havens, every reprehensible trick in the book to evade taxes, deceive investors and reward their tight little incestuous circle of crony capitalists. We have all been told this was the only way it can be, that we must simply accept and obey that we are all doomed to sinking wages, rising debt,disappearing pensions and diminishing futures...but now there is an alternative.
Let the great struggle begin! Now is the time to make a new economy and a new society that serves human needs over corporate profits! OCCUPY wherever you are!
I have been waiting thirty years for this, through the initially promising but ultimately disappointing presidencies of Bill "The Triangulator" Clinton and Barrack "The Compromiser" Obama. I really hope that this time, some change is actually going to happen.
Keep the pressure on and the questions and conversations going!