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Did I see this coming?

Yesterday when I was at OccupyWallStreet in Zuccotti Park, I was interviewed by a student from Columbia University who appeared to be conducting a real survey of the occupiers.  The last question she asked me was something like, “did you see this coming?”.  And suddenly, I remembered.  I wrote a post about it almost a year ago.  Here it is in its entirety:

Are you better off now than you were 40 years ago?

Mrs. Winters' third grade class, Bandini Street School, San Pedro, CA

I’m a child of the 60’s and 70’s.  Back when I was a kid, most mothers didn’t work.  Almost everyone we knew lived on one salary.  My dad was career military and although the work was steady back then, we weren’t exactly rich.  We moved frequently but always lived in nice lower middle class neighborhoods in townhouses and 3 bedroom ranches.  My family benefitted from socialized medicine.  Navy doctors saved my asthmatic sister’s life on more than one occasion.  In the summer, we went to day camp on the Navy base or to the all day activities at Bandini Street school in San Pedro.  You didn’t need to sign up or pay anything.  You just walked over to the school and dropped in without your parents and learned arts and crafts or competed in Chinese handball tournaments.

Meanwhile, the war waged all around us.  We watched Walter Cronkite on the CBS evening news tally up the dead in Vietnam and the dead in the streets of America after the riots.  But in our day to day existence, we were oblivious.  My classes were integrated and I never experienced the gender biased education of kids even a few years older than me.

By the time I reached middle school, the summer of love was long over.  The protest era had ended at Altamont Speedway but I barely knew who the Rolling Stones were.  I went to an experimental middle school in upstate New York, taught by those very same hippies who spent the summer in Woodstock.  They had traded in their long hair and bell bottom jeans for respectable attire and groomed hair but the spirit lingered on.  They taught us the old protest songs in assembly.  But for my generation, that was all ancient history.  We missed out.

My first protest was something entirely different.  It was on the steps of the Capital in Harrisburg, PA, when the legislature had was about to yank money from the state related university I was attending.  Reagan shortly followed, the cold war amped up to crazy heights and anyone who accepted anything from government was considered a parasite.  For kids like me on financial aid, life became very interesting.  Changes to income taxes meant I missed out on a lot of deductions my parents took for granted while I was saddled with a social security payroll tax hike that was guaranteed to keep the system running right through my retirement.

In short, I have never been able to break out of the class I was born into despite my college education and nice salary.  My salary buys me the same lifestyle my parents had.  On one salary in NJ, I have a nice townhouse in a middle class suburb and I pay for everything.  I don’t qualify for any governmental program.  My kid will never get a Pell grant and it doesn’t matter if I can’t pay her tuition myself.  I can’t save too much for her college education or my retirement.  I just pay and pay and pay.  Taxes, mortgages, my 401k and fees that are growing over time on everything.  The greedy have taken over and have decided to extract every last disposable dollar I have and there are no restraints on the unscrupulous or the criminal.

In the past 40 years, the country has been voting Republican and conservatively.  It has been one long pull to the right, at first starting slowly and now picking up steam.  The Democrats have been yielding ground as well.  The center is now where moderate Republicans used to be and the left is completely ostracized.

It should be obvious to people that they aren’t getting what they want by voting Republican but they keep doing it.  They do it because they are terrified and they do it because there was a generation before the baby boomers that also missed out on the cultural revolution of the 60’s.  There were the women who were slut shamed into believing their bodies were their enemies.  They were shut out of higher education and the workplace.  There are men who expected to be at the top of the pyramid and have had to steadily yield ground to the women and minorities of my generation who took advantage of the gains the babyboomers made for us.  The older generation indulges in its nostalgia for a simpler age and vote conservative because Republicans have their number.

But it’s pulling us all towards destruction.

It’s time we re-energized that protest age of the 60’s and this time let the ones who missed out carry that spirit forward.  That means the women and men of my age and younger and the women and men of my mother’s age and older.  Now is the time to hit the reset button.  You might have missed it the first time around.  But you can shake up the country now by sweeping out the powers that be that have a lock on our government now.

My voting strategy this year is to vote out every incumbent I can.

1.) I am not voting for any Republican.  I know nice Republicans.  Nice Republicans are friends of mine.  Unfortunately, none of them are running for office this year.  Republicans are determined to overturn the New Deal and cut social security for myself and my mother.  Oh yeah, they would do it.  They have no conscience.

Those of you who are planning to vote Republican because you are so angry should know what you’re getting yourselves and the rest of us into.  You are obligated to not throw us in front of a speeding train.  The Republican party is now composed of predators.  They’ve picked off the poor, the sick and the old.  Now, they are moving in for the kill.  Don’t let them do it.  You know what their plan is.  They offer nothing but more of the same but much, much harsher.  You know it will bring hardship and misery to millions of Americans and you know that Democrats are cowardly.  Don’t give the Democrats an excuse to punt and sell us all out.  Get tough.

2.) I am not voting for any incumbent Democrat.  Fortunately, there is one Democrat running in my district who is not an incumbent who shares my values.  That would be Ed Potasnak.  He gets my vote.  However, if any of your Democratic candidates were endorsed by Bill Clinton, I’d vote for him/her.  They’re going to owe him someday if they win.

3.) I’m going to seek out an vote for every left wing alternative party candidate I can.  We need new blood in Congress.  I may not share all of their goals but without substantial pull from the left, the government will continue its radical slide to the right.

My goal is to vote out as many Republicans as I can and replace them with people on the left.  My fear is that Obama and the Democrats are hoping the Republicans will take over at least one house of Congress so the Democrats get political cover for imposing an austerity plan on us that they don’t have the courage to fight.  And with David Broder banging the gong for another war in Iran, I’m concerned that they will give in to another bloody mess to distract us and ruin the lives of countless more innocent people.

So be it.  Now’s the time to restart the cultural revolution.  No matter what happens tomorrow, things will never be the same.  But going back is not an option.  If we want to have it as good as we did 40 years ago, we have to move forward in a radical new way.

Now’s the time all of you who didn’t participate the first time to wash out the old and bring in the new.

Throw the bastards out.

19 Responses

  1. Voting for “the lesser of two evils” is still voting for evil!

    Throw every fucking bastard out!!!!

    • +1000 for that.

      NY Bureau chief of The Economist visits OWS …

      • Yes, they would be. What I would really love to see is more women my mom’s age who are still hanging on to the social structures of the 50’s to put down their arms and join the occupations. The days of slut shaming should end. A lot of these women are incredibly smart and missed out on higher education because they were expected to be wives and mothers. But at one time, I know that they wanted to make a better world. As they got older, the right played on their conditioning and trapped them in a conservative mindset. I hope they realize that they are grown ups now and they can set their own terms on how they live their lives. They are the 99% and their voices are important too. If they wanted to change the world the first time around but got relegated to the sidelines, this is their second chance.

    • You won’t get an argument from me. But we need to find people to replace them who can hit the reset switch.
      I hope that is part of what comes out of the occupation.

  2. 2008 primaries the wound that refused to heal. Breaking news a student from Colombia discovered fraud in the democratic primaries in Indiana. I didn’t hear the whole thing but I think someone from the party resigned over the scandel in Indiana. One thing stuck to my mind the kid said Obama may not even be in the ballet if not for the fraud.

  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmEHcOc0Sys&feature=player_embedded I hope OWS keeps it’s focus and keeps the 2 parties that enabled our down fall out. RD, I can really relate to your story growing up. My parents were lower middle class and all three children were able to go to college.

  4. Here I am at the Occupy Tucson event last night. Just returned from a march around downtown Tucson…when we got back to the park the talking heads were, well, talking. So some of us went and stood behind them. Look about 1:45 and you will see this gorgeous grey haired women walked into frame – that’s me! I am laughing because I heard a chant that I thought said something about prostitution…and was just told it was about the Constitution! Same thing, really!!!


  5. What annoys me the most is the condescending attitude the 1% including Republicans and Wall Street criminals show to the QWS protestors. The new mantra is that those in the street have no leadership or central issue. What they do not wish to understand is that when all three branches of the Federal government, not to speak of state and local governments have become subsidaries of the corporate establishment, a plethora of issues arise. Hitler had the Krupp family, we have the Kochs. This is Facism, which then infects all things in a society. Nothing is sacred. We send former president Carter all over the world checking the honesty of elections, but let our own be as corrupt as ancient apples. When a a choice is made between the enviornment and oil company greed, we choose the latter. If families lose their homes and jobs, let them eat cake. If a few thousand people have to die because of incompetent and unaffordable health care, so be it. My Grandfather, who practised corporate and estate law use to say he could understand greed, but he could not understand stupidity. What are the 1% going to do when there is no market for their products and services? What are Disney and the other corporate media outlets going to do when only a few can buy a TV on which to watch the drivel they produce?

    • I am actually watching the Repug debate (drinking wine, too!) and when OWS came up and they claimed OWS wants to do away with capitalism the audience went wild when they said “It’s terrible”.

      Sigh. But even the left talking heads are claiming it’s about “jobs” – I guess so they can tack Obama onto its coattails.

      It’s not. It about getting Corporate Money Out of Politics!!!!!

      • I don’t think OWS wants to do away with capitalism. It wants the economy to pay off for the 99% who have been shafted. That’s going to mean unhooking ourselves from the present system. I suppose that’s going to look like the end of the world to the bankers. It isn’t. It will just introduce a new kind of competition. The bankers will have to compete with a new structure for our money. Well, is this a free market or isn’t it? Are we free to take our money elsewhere and invest it in things we think are important or aren’t we?
        If the bankers say no, then that suggests that THEY are the anti-capitalists.

  6. Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that the national conversation seems to have shifted to Wall Street and Washington corruption/criminality and away from from deficit reduction? For a time the only thing I saw in the MSM were stories about austerity.

    Just changing the national conversation to corruption and the unemployment problem is a big thing and I thank the OWS movement for it.

    • I agree – I am now hearing the words “Wall Street” mentioned in a negative, predatory sense. And the some of the issues about corporate power are being talked about.

      I heard Ed Schultz take a call (on radio) tonight and the guy was spot-on about Obama taking billions form WS and now he’s bad mouthing WS so he can be associated with OWS. Schultz (such a douchbag!) claimed that the taking of the money occurred in 2007 before Obama realized how bad WS is/was. Then he hung up on the caller. Bullshit!

      Gotta keep up the pressure!

      • Riiiiight. There he was, an innocent, naive Pinnochio, having no idea what he was getting into when John Worthington Foulfellow tricked him into going on a road trip to Pleasure Island. Where was Jimminy Cricket when he needed him?

      • Jeez, it’s even worse than that. Back in August 2007 during the Presidential candidate’s forum at YearlyKos2 in Chicago, both John Edwards and Barack Obama got all over Hillary’s ass for taking money from lobbyists. Oh, no, Obama would never touch that filthy lucre. It was tainted. It had strings. Only Hillary would get in bed with the corporations, even tho there’s no compelling evidence that her votes were influenced by money from any source. You have to wonder why the bankers didn’t back Hillary in 2007-2008. They gave their money and support to Obama. Was it just because they all played golf together? They owed him when he wiped them all out in a Friday night poker game? Their wives made them do it?
        Ed Schultz should be embarrassed.

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