The Revolution is here. Despite initial resistance from major news sources, it is now being televised. Across the country, across the world, tens of thousands of people are marching in the streets.
At first they ignored us. On Twitter, you can see my heated exchanges with a CNN News anchor (Ali Velshi) who told me in a snarky manner that Occupy Wall Street was not a story. Then the mocking began as they tried to paint everyone involved as "dirty hippies", "leftist lunatic Communists" and other ad hominem attacks. Now that they've failed in that, they're ready to unleash the dogs.
Yet, with every arrest, with every use of pepper spray, the crowds grow larger and pop up in new cities. This is a wave that cannot be stopped and the people who stand in opposition will be swept out. They will find themselves on the losing side of history. Politicians are suddenly paying attention and trying to co-opt, to harness the energy of the movement for their own gain. President Obama has said that he sides with the protesters, but he has got corporate money in his coffers as well. I dare say that the vast majority of incumbents do as well, this has to end.
The ideological purists of the Occupy movement are angered at the thought that politicians are trying to use the energy for their campaigns but unfortunately, that is how the system works. Every major social change started with protests and discontent of some sort but ultimately, it took votes cast by Senators, members of Congress or decisions made by the Supreme Court to make it law. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the product of activism, protests and sit-ins. So was the abolition of slavery, the repeal of Prohibition, etc.
Occupy Wall Street is the first, and necessary step. We are learning to shake off our apathy and abandoning the myth that one person does not matter. Yet, I do not believe the current system of inequality can be changed by just protests alone. Next, we have to get involved and make changes through the political system which ultimately decides what is law and what is not. If you have a representative who will listen and vote for the changes that are needed, support them and make sure you keep them honest. If you have a representative that will not listen and is too deeply in the pockets of those who have a vested interest in the status quo, help remove them from office via the ballot box.
The difference between the Arab Spring and the American Autumn is that in the Arab countries, they were under dictatorships which allowed little or no participation in the political process. Here, we have the ultimate say with our vote. We just have to learn not to be tricked into voting against our self interests. We have to learn that our neighbor is not our enemy for whatever reason we've been told in order to divide us against each other. We can reclaim our country, if we really want to.