Much of the criticism of «Occupy Wall Street» and the similar movements taking place — including in Hartford and New Haven — is a lack of leadership and clear goals. Those are actually reasons why this movement will continue to grow in depth and breadth.
The signs, slogans and chants rail against corporate greed, crooked capitalism and bailouts; the multiple wars we are still fighting, and the need for jobs and a secure food supply. But the one clear message this movement has, which is echoing throughout the country, is that everyday people are demanding a change.
That change, however, won’t instantly occur from casting a vote. A major theme in these movements is that our political system is controlled by too much money and is broken. This transcends the Democratic and Republican parties. Politicians on both sides of the aisle spend their days on the phone dialing for dollars to keep their jobs.
The «occupy» movement is declaring our two-party system has essentially become one, based on special interest and corporate influence. This movement realizes that the recent Supreme Court ruling that corporations are «people» is wrong, and will only lead to more corporate money flooding into and controlling our national debate.
This movement realizes that electing a president with the message of change sounds like a good idea, but that one man can’t change a politically gridlocked country. This movement is based on the idea that civil disobedience (the nonviolent resistance to certain laws or demands of a government) is more powerful than waiting until November to send someone else to demand change for you.
This nonviolent method of defiance was employed by Mohandas Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. to achieve true, permanent social change. The key to the use of civil disobedience is the nonviolent factor.
By now the footage of New York protesters being arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge has circled the world. Yes, some pushing and shoving occurred between police and protesters. But there were no dogs, water cannons or beatings that have marred protests in our country’s past. The creed of nonviolence allows people of all races, religions, ages, sexual orientations and socioeconomic backgrounds to participate in this movement.
All people have a right to join this movement under our Constitution and to peaceably assemble. All people have a stake in the outcome as well.
A goal that hasn’t been widely discussed is the possibility for this movement to create a third party in our political system — a party that wouldn’t rely on money to buy elections or serve special interests. It also would not leave voters having to choose between the «lesser of two evils.»
This can be a party that focuses on actually changing the tax code, health care, social programs, debt reduction, education and the myriad of other issues our country faces. This can be a party not bogged down by voter apathy and a disenfranchised public. This can be a party that understands that people are beginning to vote with their wallets rather than ballots. But most important, this can be a party born under the principles of nonviolent resistance to the corporate occupation of the American political system.
The people of «Occupy Wall Street» and «Occupy Hartford» are making their stands now in public places for all to see. This movement is still in its infancy but it shows no signs of contraction, rather signs of growth. I wonder what this revolution will look like next November when the energized masses have had their chance to refine their message.
James Capinera, 27, of West Hartford works in sales support for a software company.