No one likes to think they’ve been ripped off. Whether it’s with a car repair or falling for some scam, we don’t like to admit to ourselves that we’ve been had. We’ll come up with justifications to avoid confronting the fact that we’ve been the victim of someone else’s greed.
Perhaps it is this reluctance to admit being ripped off that is keeping so many people from siding with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. In a nutshell, this movement says “we are the 99% who don’t control the majority of the wealth in this country, and we’re going to be heard.”
If we begin to think that the Occupy Wall Street movement might be correct, it challenges many of our long-held beliefs. For some people, they have believed that the Republican Party is the pro-life and pro-family values party. They have therefore supported Republican candidates. Others believe that the Republican Party is the party that will protect our shores from terrorist attacks. Others believe that the Republican Party supports small businesses.
If we really look at things, though, we discover that the Republican Party of the last few years really doesn’t support these principles. (Lest you think I’m bashing Republicans, the Democrats are going to get theirs in a few moments.) The Republicans have not done a very good job of being the pro-life party considering they supported two wars that have killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. Newt Gingrich divorced his dying wife, yet he runs for the office of President. The Republicans talk a good game, but they don’t walk the walk.
The Republicans launched the war in Iraq but didn’t think that doing so might just anger people we ought to be trying to make friends with. Is it any wonder we’ve had other attempts to commit terrorist attacks in the U.S. since September 11, 2001?
Small business owners like to think they have the support of Republicans, but let’s look at this, really. Have small businesses enjoyed the kind of growth and wealth accumulation that Wall Street has over the last ten or twenty years? How many small business owners do you know live in huge mansions and vacation in Monte Carlo? How many small business owners in your community have garages full of Porsches, Ferraris, and Bentleys? A successful small business owner might own one of these, but that’s it. Why is General Electric paying so little in taxes while the small business owner pays his or her fair share?
The simple fact is that those who have supported Republican candidates in recent years have been scammed. The Republicans want your votes, but they really aren’t doing much to support the principles you believe in. The evidence is clear, however, that the Republicans have bent over backwards to help those who are in the top 1% of our nation’s wealth. All you have to do is look back to the debate over whether the Bush era tax cuts should expire. The Republicans were willing to raise taxes on the majority of us if the wealthiest didn’t get to keep their lower taxes too. Whose side are they really on?
I said the Democrats were going to get theirs, and they are. The Democrats have been complicit. Many of them voted to authorize the war in Iraq and fund it while not worrying about how to pay for it. Many of them have taken campaign money from the Wall Street financiers (remember the Wall Street guy who told Sen. Charles Schumer that he ought to demand his contribution back? [someone please find me the link to that story!]). What have the Democrats done to really level the economic playing field in this nation? Not a whole heck of a lot. Some will argue that the Democrats have not had the votes to make a difference–but that should not excuse them from making their case to the people.
As citizens in this country, we need to remember what the late Molly Ivins once said. If you want to know what a politician is going to do, look at his (or her) record. Ignore what they say, look how they’ve acted. Words don’t matter, but actions do. If a candidate has said “I support small businesses” but has continued to vote for legislation that helps the ultra-rich, that candidate should not get our votes. Democrat or Republican, it doesn’t matter.
Some will argue that I’m advocating class warfare. I pose this question to them: If we don’t want class warfare, then what are the candidates (and the rest of us) doing to promote class cooperation? Have the Wall Street people had an epiphany and realized they need to help the rest of us? No. They put up signs in their office windows that say “We are the 1%” and they drink Champagne while looking down at us from their balconies.
As with an addiction, the first step is admitting we have a problem. We have to admit that we’ve been duped by our political parties. These parties have been looking out for the 1% while letting the rest of us fight for the scraps. Come 2012, we need to make our voices heard at the ballot box.