Monday, October 17, 2011

OWS is not about partisan politics

At first it seems great that some supporters are claiming that Occupy Wall Street is the liberal version of the tea party. We finally have our own reaction to the injustices we've been observing and experiencing, and it feels empowering to be part of a growing movement that echoes our ideals. But it's not accurate.

On the other side of this movement, we have critics who want to frame this uprising as yet another battle in partisan politics. I even see some honest confusion, which is not surprising in our highly polarized government, of people who align themselves with the republican party and are trying to group the OWS supporters with democrats. This projection is filled with flaws, and it only divides us when we should be working together.

And on the flip side, when OWS criticizes the current administration, that doesn't mean we're endorsing the GOP in any way. I'm happy that conservatives are embracing the movement, but this isn't about attacking democrats, so please don't use it an an excuse to validate your own party.

While I still fall pretty hard on the progressive end of the political spectrum, "democrats vs. republicans" is not what this is about. Occupy Wall Street is a nonpartisan movement, based on principles rather than party affiliation. I don't think I can stress that enough. Many people want to stick to their political tribe, viewing allies and enemies as we've been conditioned to do under this failing system.

The truth is, the overwhelming majority of us are on the same side. OWS transcends partisan fighting, and should. This pressure has been intensifying for decades, and both parties have their share of the blame.

So what are those principles? What has led not only the U.S., but the entire world to stand up and shout injustice?

  • The gross difference in wealth between the top 1% and the rest of the country's citizens.

  • Corporate greed and the ways capitalism has failed us, the remaining 99%.

  • The incredible power and influence that corporations have over our government.

  • Corporate personhood

  • Using taxpayer money to bail out the banks when other more vital institutions need the help.

That's just to name a few (I particularly like the Declaration of the Occupation that New York put together). It remains to be seen where this movement will take us, but my one bare-minimum hope is that people start waking up and realizing what's happening to them. The greed and influence of Corporate America may survive, but at least people will see the ugly truth.

I also want to stress: the best way to understand OWS is to actually attend a General Assembly (find one near you). Witness direct democracy with your own eyes.

UPDATE: A complete, thorough list of demands has just been formed, and you can view it here. Well worth the read.

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