The stereotype has it that the people interested in the Occupation Movement – centered around the series of protests sweeping across the United States in which demonstrators stay in public squares for days on end – are all just a bunch of lazy young kids who don’t have anything better to do. The people I met on the bus down to Washington D.C. defy that stereotype.
On the way into Washington D.C., I talked to several other passengers, some of whom were, like myself, coming down to the capital in order to participate in tomorrow’s occupation protest of Freedom Plaza, just a couple of blocks to the east of the White House.
Stan Clark, who lives in Redondo Beach, spoke to me of his worries about the economic mess that the young generation of today has inherited. “We’re going to have a lost generation. The people, the young people that are unemployed right now, could be unemployed for another who knows how long. They will be lagging behind the other people who have jobs, and they’ll never catch up,” he said.
Clark is by no means young. He’s retired, in fact. Yet, he had great enthusiasm for the occupation protests. “I think it makes a statement,” Clark told me. “I would like to see it grow. I would like more grassroots involvement. There’s a lot of idle hands in the country and we can take it to the streets, and I’m all for it.”
Another retiree I spoke to, Flo Tomaneck of Gaithersburg, Maryland, also expressed support for the occupation movement. “I’m just happy somebody’s doing something, and I don’t know a better way. It certainly is a statement. The longevity of it shows that you’re serious. It’s certainly a big sacrifice on the part of the person sitting there. It’s a kind of fortitude, not a flash in the pan. They’re serious. I don’t think that there is a downside,” she said.
Tomaneck connected the occupation protests to the ongoing state of war. Tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, and victory is still nowhere in sight. “I’d like to see the war end, any war. I would like to see peace, period.”
Barack Obama campaigned as an anti-war candidate, but has backpedaled on his promises of peace. Obama also promised that he would repeal the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. Clark picked up on this discontent, warning that unless the President responds positively to the demands being made by the occupation protesters, he will soon find himself out of the White House.
“People are pissed because it makes you feel as though this Administration and Congress are looking the other way, because they’re all involved,” he said. “I did vote for Obama in 2008, only because I felt I didn’t have any other choice. I like the man, personally. I think he’s an incredible man. Leader? Not so much. I think that’s a pretty common feeling. I would love to see him pull a miracle out of his hat, and I don’t know what that would be, or what it could be, but if he can’t do it, move aside. We don’t have the luxury of waiting.”
The Occupy D.C. protest in Freedom Park begins just a few hours from now. I’ll be there in person, providing news from the events as they take place.