This whole week I had been writing about my experiences with the Occupy movement, and while I really valued the learning experience I got that weekend, it took an interview with the campus television station for me to really think about why I went and what I learned from the experience.
I have no question in my mind that I am part of the 99%. I also have no doubt that there is still a lot of misinformation about the Occupy movement. The 99% may have some lazy people in it, who would rather live on welfare than go out and look for a job, but that is not the movement as a whole. There may be antiestablishment hippies and anarchists as part of the movement, but every movement has some form of anarchist sect as part of the movement.
The 99% is really the 99% of Americans that have been continually screwed over by the richest 1%. The 99% don’t have the luxury of having tax loopholes to keep more of their money. We work hard for our money, and while most of us are happy to pay taxes, we hate the idea of our tax money being used to bail out huge corporations, and instead be used for million dollar bonuses.
The income gap between the rich and the middle class is growing. It’s far too large already, but it’s continuing to grow. There needs to be something put in place to stop this sort of thing from happening. If it requires a bit of socialism to make sure that everyone is doing and receiving their fair share, then so be it. A little bit of socialism never hurt anyone; just look at Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, etc.
The movement, despite how it’s being portrayed, is not anti-capitalist. If you work hard to earn your money, you should be able to have it. The movement is, however, against corporate greed and corporate influence in the political system. The movement is about making sure that everyone has an equal chance at the three most important things listed in the Constitution: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
I’m part of the 99%, not because I’m an angry liberal, or a socialist, or lazy, or unemployed, or whiny. I’m part of the 99% because I believe that the American people should help each other out no matter what. I believe in peace and equality, which honestly, sometimes seems like a pipe dream. But I know it’s possible, if we could get over ourselves and over our politics.
During the interview, I was asked why, with a campus of 1800 students, only 2 students went to Occupy St. Louis. It was a spur-of-the-moment question, one that came up as we were talking during commercial breaks, but it was an interesting point. I suggested that it was mostly a media thing, as the Occupy movement is often portrayed as a “liberal” movement, and with my part of Iowa being mostly conservative, it seems that some of the more conservative students didn’t want to be associated with anything “liberal”.
As I said last night, the movement isn’t the 99% of liberals, or the 99% of libertarians, or the 99% of conservatives. It’s the 99% of Americans. We’re all suffering together, and it’s going to take all of us to bring about any sort of change.
If you believe you are part of the 1%, but are not making over a million dollars a year, you are lying to yourself. You’re all part of the same movement, whether you like it or not, and it’s up to all of us to join forces and make a difference.