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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Occupy Wall Street - It's About Real People

Category: Occupy Wall Street
Posted: 11/16/11 05:33, Edited: 11/16/11 05:33

by Dave Mindeman

Occupy Wall Street has been kind of an enigma. I have read the usual conservative rants on the "damn dirty hippies" take. And I have read the liberal postings that are troubled by the lack of specific demands. I have shared some of those quizzical thoughts.

But last night as I watched The Rachel Maddow Show, they did a segment about OWS and how they have a library. Imagine that. They have a 5,000 book library. Catalogued and ready for lending.

And its not just Noah Chomsky or Ralph Nader....its Dr. Seuss and even Sean Hannity. I just found that fascinating and amazing.

Early on, I think Mayor Bloomberg asked OWS about what their demands actually were. The answer?

We Are Our Demands.

That seemed like an awfully cryptic reply, but last night as I watched that segment about the OWS library, it hit me. Here is the picture that popped into my head....

A 20 something hedge fund manager walks out of his Wall Street office building. He wears an Armani suit. $500 Italian shoes. Silk tie. As he walks out the door, he sees a guy in faded blue jeans, a tied dyed T-Shirt, and a bandana around his forehead.

Their eyes meet for a brief moment.

That is Occupy Wall Street. For a brief moment in time, these two guys occupy the same point in time and the same space on the planet. The hedge fund guy is forced to...at least for one moment...see that there are people..actual people...outside of that financial wall.

The hedge fund guy spends his day manipulating 401K's or currency or mutual funds. Numbers go up and numbers go down. Its all in the abstract.

But for a moment, he sees that there are other existences to be had. This guy lives in a tent, he eats in a makeshift soup line, and he relieves himself in a port-a-potty. But he does it to show hedge fund guy that he exists. He exists in this place, this time, and this planet.

Hedge fund guy needs to know that real people are behind those 401Ks. Real people drive the cabs, wait the tables, and cash his checks at the bank.

Real people matter.

Our political system has catered to the people who show up. But its not just showing up that matters anymore, you have to show up with a check. Occupy Wall Street is about getting back to the idea that real people can show up, too. They don't have big checks, but they have themselves.

Real people need to have a place in this system. We need to know that our vote counts as much as a Koch brother vote. We need to know that the jobs we don't have matter as much as those who use their jobs to get rich. We need to know that everybody counts in a community, not just the ones who have influence.

Its about occupying a space. Occupying a right. Occupying acknowledgement.

The police can cut up their tents and chase them away. But they will keep coming back.

Because they are their demands.

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