On this fourth year anniversary of my November 30th, 2011, arrest at Occupy Los Angeles–which happened to about 300 of us because we were so fed up with our social, political and economic institutions’ catering to corporate greed–I wryly note that little in our society has changed since then. I want to make another call out to the people, as Occupiers did then, for unity and resistance against the current militaristic, greedy and racist power structures, and for support of the long list of grievances outlined in The Declaration of Occupy Wall Street, and the platform outlined in The Voice to the Voiceless Solidarity Declaration, 2014 These sentiments have been echoed somewhat in the 2015/16 election cycle, in the platforms of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and more so of the Green Party, the Socialist Party, and Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). This is especially urgent on the occasion of both the 2016 political races–in which hardly any of these Occupy-identified issues were addressed in the televised Presidential debates (of what I like to call the Republicrats)–and on the extra-special occasion of Donald Trump’s impending visit to Sarasota.
As I began writing, I could not help but have a holiday tune float through my mind:
“Donald Trump is Coming to Town” (sung to the tune of Santa Claus is Coming to Town)
“You better not shout, you better not cry, you better not protest, I’m telling you why, Donald Trump is coming to town. He’s a racist hater, mean as mean can be, he’ll terrorize the planet, and attack our liberty…He’ll spy on you when your sleeping, or when you’re half awake, and he just might get crazy, so be good for goodness sake…Donald Trump is coming to town” (or something along those lines–please don a Santa hat and sing it with me at the next Trump protest).
After many years of struggle in the peace, mental health clients’ rights and vegan activist movements, I have learned that a little humor helps. And, as I am the mother of two teenagers, I of course have this kind of sarcastic musical parody on my mind regularly; I also have the future of my children and our planet on my mind. That is one of the reasons I committed civil disobedience and was arrested four years ago at the Occupy encampment, arms linked with my compatriots. I have extreme doubt about the ecological, economic and political soundness of the current philosophies and trajectories of the Western world. Donald Trump is not only the face of racism, he is also the face of corrupt corporate America; the scary thing is that even if any of the other Republicrats get elected, we will still face the same systemic problems. After about 30 years of eye-opening non-profit work, journalism and activism, I would like to see more unity and bold action by the people of this land in the face of the corrupt political system of which we are a part.
Moreover, I believe that the values promoted at this time of year, the holidays–kindness, love, peace, faith and hope–should be the values we base our culture on–not greed, selfishness, fear and violence. Four years ago, Occupiers and their supporters talked and wrote about the people’s need for a fundamental change in our values– and the economic and political system based upon them. We talked about this need for revolutionary change in many Occupy assemblies, and in many online articles, blog entries, and declarations, including the Voice to the Voiceless Solidarity Declaration, 2014.
In this last declaration, one of many similar ones across the country–based on surveys of the people–we called for an end to the corrupt two-party system, an end to police brutality, breaking up the Big Banks, fighting global warming, an end to the “War on Terror”, stopping fraudclosures, and an end to deportations, among a number of other things. None of the problems we were concerned about then have been solved. It is disappointing and humiliating to know that one could practically lay down their life for a cause, be bailing water out as fast as one can of a sinking ship and have just as many holes in the sinking ship open up to plug…Because our socio-political system is deeply unjust, we cannot help but have continued problems of corruption, racism and hate occur. However, one must remain hopeful and strong, and loyal/faithful to one’s compatriots in the struggle.
Bernie Sanders is talking a good talk, but I look at him with a jaundiced eye. He is like all of the other major party candidates, in the sense that he would continue to support the two-party system and much of the corporate agenda, including a continued “War on Terror” (which by all accounts will only lead to more terrorism and more discrimination against Syrian refugees). I imagine that fear of having a Donald Trump be the next president will cause many people to rally around the more conservative and corporate-backed Hillary Clinton as opposed to Bernie as the Democratic candidate. In this way, the corporations may very well win another 4 years of sitting at the presidential table. We can’t afford that.
I have long hoped that, instead of continuing this downward spiral, “we the people”, the 99%–more than half of whom do not even plan to vote in the next election–would be stirred to action by the leadership of a major coalition between third parties and people’s movements, such as the Green Party, the Socialist Party, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Occupy (what’s left of it), the housing justice movement, Black Lives Matter, environmental groups, the ANSWER coalition and other forward-thinking groups . This would be very inspiring, especially if independent elections were being proposed, and a coalition/unity panel of candidates iwere being put forward as a possibke new administration, including those from all the major parties and movements, as well as people like Bernie Sanders, if he doesn’t get the nomination–and perhaps all of the many dissenters and whistleblowers from our government of the past 15 years that have seen what the corruption and incompetence of the current system looks like from the inside.
In conclusion, the 2016 election process will not be democratic by any means and cannot be trusted–the people need to wake up and create their own consensus/government/elections, outside of voting in the mainstream ones. To do this, third party forces and all of the many people’s resistance movements need to come together and begin to discuss such a possibility. In my opinion, all major and minor activist groups and third parties should be invited to discuss together a strong, inspiring, unified platform based upon love, hope, our stewardship of the planet, tolerance and racial and economic justice–premised upon what the people –not corporations– want. Whether we have the maturity and resources to actually do this is another question.
I continue to hope, as I did with Occupy, that whatever strategy we create to take back our political and economic systems, will be guided by love and commitment to secure our future. Last weekend, my two teenagers and I went to stand in solidarity with the mother of Elias Guadarama, a young Hispanic who was gunned down by police . However–after hearing too many stories about protesters getting arrested, shot at, and tortured–my kids were too afraid to get out of the car when we got there. This is not the kind of country I want my children to live in when they are older. Fear must not stop us adults from moving forward. I am here to say that I, for one, will not be silent and will not stop occupying, protesting and resisting until our country is heading in the right direction–not just for our generation, but for the future, for our children and their children’s children.
Let us all join together and commit to Dump Trump, and support a unified third party and free elections or resistance movement in this country. We need to take back our political, social and economic systems and resist the greed, racism, ecological disaster and militarism to which our current systems have given rise. DUMP TRUMP!!!!!