The Roots of the Revolution


I might be biased. I understand that.    First of all, I once joined the Communist Party at my urban college.  I later came to understand the weaknesses in the communist utopian idea, but I didn’t swing too far to the right.

I have voted Socialist in several local and national elections. I have voted Green Party.  I am a card carrying member of the ACLU.

Yes.

I am a lefty.   A wicked far to the left Lefty.

But that’s not why I am writing tonight.

I am writing tonight because I keep hearing the word “income inequality” as I listen to BOTH parties in this Presidential election.   I have heard many references to the 99% and to the 1%.

I have heard candidates of both parties speaking with passion about universal health care and reducing student debt and limiting the influence of the corporate elite.

And all I can think of when I hear these things is this:

“Wow. Occupy Wall Street really made a difference.”

And, once again, I am biased.

Because, look:

20111002_PROTEST-slide-UP67-blog480

Yep. That’s my son in the background.

Occupy Wall Street October 1st

Yep. That’s my daughter.

And there was another kid who got arrested with Occupy that night on the Brooklyn Bridge.  He just managed not to make it into the New York Times.

Still.

Anyone who has followed any part of the Occupy Movement must recognize the themes and the slogans that have been adopted by the Presidential candidates.

I am in equal parts amused and annoyed when I hear the candidates talking about the dangers of income inequality and the need to make higher education more affordable.

I mean, really?

I am amused and excited when I hear these ideas being touted by everyone from Bernie Sanders (a real live lefty who talked about these things way before Occupy happened), to Marco Rubio, who honestly sounded like he wasn’t sure of what he was saying.

I am excited when I realize that maybe for the first time in my life the idea of a corporate oligarchy is carrying some weight in a national election.

And I am hugely, enormously proud when I realize that my three children, as well as my son-in-law, were involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement.  I know that without even casting a vote, these four young people have had a huge impact on this Presidential election.

This activist, lefty Mom is very very proud.

And very very hopeful.   Maybe something will finally change in this country.  Maybe we will finally begin to realize that this is in fact supposed to be “government by the people, for the people”.   You never know.

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And one more note about Occupy Wall Street.  My daughter met her future husband when they got arrested together on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Now that’s romance.

 

So I’m just wondering…..


I am wondering about something here.  And I have come to the blogging world for some answers.

Of course, this would be much more meaningful if I had hundreds of readers, but I’ll take what I can get.  Thank you, reader!!

If you are reading this, for some reason, can you please answer and tell me what you think? Please!

See, I’ve been learning about American History for the past few weeks, as part of my professional development as a fifth grade teacher.   I am loving the class, loving the books, loving the discussion.

I am learning SO much about the real story of what has made us the country that we are today.

For example, I have been reading a book called “Triangle” by David Von Drehle.  It’s about the horrific fire in the Triangle shirtwaist factory in 1911, during the height of the textile mill era.  I learned from this book, and some of my other reading for the course, that when the workers banded together to demand a 10 hour work day, or a 52 hour work week, the mill owners went nuts, claiming that the reduced hours would bankrupt them, and would ultimately cost the workers their jobs.  They wanted, they said, to be able to “create jobs”, and these regulations would prevent that.

It sort of sounded familiar.

I learned that back in the time of the industrial revolution, New York politics were run by the infamous “Tammany Hall”. I learned that at the time, regulations were needed to try to reduce the number of children (under the age of 12) who worked in these factories for up to 60 hours a week.  Regulations were sought to improve the safety of workers who labored in huge open rooms which were filled with flammable fabrics, in an age where mill owners routinely locked exit door to prevent the theft of lace and cloth.  Some progressive politicians even tried to pass laws requiring fire escapes and safety drills.

Most of the regulations failed to pass, though.  And I learned why: the politicians whose job it was to write and pass those laws were given huge sums of money to help with their campaigns.  Guess who gave the money?  Yup! You win a Kupie doll: it was the mill and factory owners who paid for all those campaigns.

Huh.

Sounds just so damn familiar.  You know?

So, here is what I want to ask all of you:

1) Do you think that the political system of today is less corrupt than that of Tammany Hall in 1910?

2) Do you believe that government regulations are necessary to protect the lives and well being of the average worker/citizen in the US today?

3) Do you think that free market companies will put the safety and well being of the workers before their corporate profits in the absence of such regulation? (I know, I know: the theory is that happy workers will be more productive and company profits will increase. But do you believe this?)

4) Is there anyone out there (ANYONE?) who is excited to vote for either of the major party candidates?  I know people who plan to vote for Obama because they despise Mitt, and I know people who plan to vote for Mitt because they loathe Obama. Disclaimer: I am not voting for either one. Absolutely, unequivocally NOT.   But please tell me if you are really happy and excited to be casting your precious vote for either one of these guys and the party that they represent.

Here is the thought that is keeping me awake at night: “Those who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat it.”

What do you think, seriously?