Welcome to McPherson Park, home of the Occupy D.C. Movement
Readers of this blog know by now that I love our nation's capitol and go there a few times a year. I hang out, wander the galleries and museums, argue with the political nuts in front of the White House, join in demonstrations, eat at good restaurants, and take in a show or two at the National or Warner Theaters.
I like it that the streets are filled with smart, 30-something professionals dressed in suits, that there are lots of college students doing college students things, that profound thoughts are chiseled in the ubiquitous marble facades, and especially the feeling one gets that you are where the action is. For a political junkie like me, that's important. Look, see that pretty woman leaving the White House? I see her on CNN every night. Golly!
So, after driving across the country with my son (I'll start that travel log in the next blog entry), I flew from Ft. Lauderdale to D.C. to meet my wife who was there for the week on business. That's how I got to see and meet the Occupy D.C. movement.
First impressions are ever so important, so here's mine: I don't know what caused the fracas in Oakland, but the nation's capitol need not yet call up the National Guard to deal with their protesters. No worries. This is a rag-tag band, for certain, and while they decry the greed of the Wall Street robber barons and long for the District of Columbia to have representation in Congress, peaceful demonstration is their bottom line.
Indeed, having lived through the 1960's as a college student and having been at the student draft card burnings in Boston, and having been on the snarling end of attacking police dogs on the Boston Public Garden (the dogs were leashed, but effective), I can testify to the peaceful intentions of these neo-hippies.
The food tent area.
One thing about the 60's that was not present and that I missed, was the folk music. No budding Peter, Paul, and Marys here, just young people sitting around talking. Every night they hold a general membership meeting at which anyone can say their piece and receive either accolades or dissing from the crowd. If their ideas are deemed good and acceptable, hands are raised and fingers waggled in the air. If the ideas are not so good, hands go down and fingers are waggled toward the ground. No one gets shouted down. I'd love to see Congress adopt this method. Imagine.
Civil War General James Birdseye McPherson watches over the Occupy D.C. camp.
So, exactly what is the gripe? It was hard to pin it down. According to a young man named Joe who I interviewed in the headquarters tent, the Occupy movements in different cities have no central leader and have different motivations layered on top of the basic anti-greed, anti-Wall Street-Congress collusion problem. D.C. as I mentioned, is taxed but has no representation in Congress. Other places have other issues.
Joe and I discuss the meaning of the Occupy D.C. movement. He was sitting at tent labeled, "Information."
But now it seems the patience of city officials is wearing thin. At least in Oakland, CA where it was rumored that some protesters chucked stones at police and police responded with tear gas. A few people were injured. See below.
What's the meaning of it all? I guess it's all part of the zeitgeist, the spirit of the age. Our spirits have been brought low by the misery of the economy and the economy is a global phenomena of nearly infinite complexity so no one has any real solutions. What results is like a brain surgeon using an axe while politicians and corporations stand around yelling instructions and making accusations. Now we, the common man-as-patient are trying to come out of our anesthesia and do something--anything.