The Occupy movement has taken the nation as well as the world by storm. Corrupt politicians, disintegration of society, and financial inequalities are some of the reasons why hundreds of thousands of Americans, the “99%” who come from all facets of life, have joined the cause in cities across the country. “Occupiers” is the term used to describe the masses of people who have set up tents and taken residency in public spaces to show their dissatisfaction with the current establishment, and most importantly, raise public awareness.
The last time there was truly a “revolution” in this country, was almost 50 years ago; as ideas on civil rights, humanitarianism, and social equality flourished for the first time. But, assassinations of prominent leaders (JFK, RFK, and MLK) and a dividing cultural war unfortunately prevented any real change from occurring. However, what distinguishes the Occupy movement from the ‘60s counterculture is the very message that it has built itself upon, “We are the 99%”. The Occupy movement is not the left’s response to the right’s Tea Party. Many different kinds of people from diverse backgrounds and ideologies have shown support. Occupy is accepting of all ideas, under the basic principle that the current system by which our government functions is broken, and needs to be reformed. Capitalism is not what the Occupiers despise, but what politicians and bankers on Wall Street have done to it.
At one point, America was known as a nation of hope, freedom, and opportunity. Granted, I have only seen a different kind of America. Corrupt politicians, who follow the wishes of bankers instead of voters, have hijacked our democracy. The government spends hundreds of billions of dollars on fighting wars that do not make our country any safer, rather than improving conditions in our impoverished communities. A middle class is being systematically wiped out through mass unemployment and payroll cuts, as the income of the top 1% of wealthiest Americans continues to rise.
The financial situation of this country is only getting worse. Economists fear that the US might be on the verge of a double-dip recession. In general, people do not get involved in politics until they are affected directly. A free falling economy with no end in sight is something that will undoubtedly affect the lives of every single American. The impact on high school students is even more concerning. After high school, we will be greeted into the real world with less job opportunities than our parents, college tuition hikes (the average college graduate faces $20,000 debt from loans), and less government services to help out. At the end of the day, we are the ones who will be inheriting a nation that is falling apart, if no serious changes take place.
In recent weeks, cities have evicted most of the Occupy camps (LA, NYC, Philadelphia). The evictions may lead one to believe that the Occupy movement is now over. After all, the movement is called “Occupy”, so if no one is occupying an area, then it no longer exists. This is a common misconception as the ideas that have emerged from the Occupy movement will never die.
With continued public discontent, people will no longer be complacent with how things are being run. As the economy worsens, more people will take a stand. Americans are not asking for change, they are demanding it! We forget sometimes that this country is a democracy, and the power lies ultimately in our own hands. If the Occupy movement has accomplished anything, it has caused people to question their government, and that may be the spark that ignites this country to have a truly better tomorrow.