Much of what I have posted below was done last night, but today, as I wait for my next load (I am a truck driver), and as I have time to hear more about the Occupy Oakland general strike, which among other things shut down the Port of Oakland for a time — and not only prevented truckers from getting in or out but prevented work from being done on the inside due to lack of transportation — I am coming to the conclusion that these protests, which are really protests about the inequities in our society, would be better directed at our elected officials. And just like I would ask Tea Partiers, I ask the Occupy people, where have you been all this time? The lack of public participation in the democratic process has left a vacuum that has been eagerly filled by the monyed/corporate interests. Yes, let’s do take our country back. We can do it peacefully and by keeping up the pressure on our elected officials by communication with them and by voting. And peaceful demonstration, I repeat, is a positive thing. Violence gives the powers that be a handy excuse to clamp down.
Down in this post I mention an incident involving a motorist who ran into a couple of protestors — the details today on that are unclear as to whether it was by choice or accident — crowds blocking intersections and cars do not mix well. There were reports they were pounding on the car.
Through the magic of the computer I think I will go down into this post now and slighlty reword that.
UPDATE (Nov. 3, 2011, 6:30 a.m.) While yesterday’s Occupy Oakland protests were mostly non-violent (not altogether) things got out of hand this morning with windows shattered and a big bonfire set, and police moved in with tear gas and flash-bang grenades, to which some protestors yelled that they were just like the war veteran who suffered injury from police. But, you know, when you cause a disturbance or you are in the midst of trouble, what do you expect? One caller into a radio show I listen to last night opined that the National Guard should be called in. I have called for that in Oakland and others places when they were hit by race riots or ongoing gang violence and I would feel the same way about this if things steadily get out of hand — I’m not sure it is that bad yet. I have not been to Oakland, that is down on the streets, since all this began. This current thing does not appear to be a racial thing and all the photos I see do not depict just people on one ethnic or racial group. It’s supposedly a revolt of the middle class or a revolt against people being kept out of or booted out of the middle class due to the economy and the politics behind it.
The following, uncless otherwise noted, I posted last night:
While I almost, almost I say, have some sympathy with the Occupy movement (Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Oakland ect.) I have mixed emotions.
Mob rule is or might seem okay if you are away from the mob but might get some ultimate benefit or they go after someone or some entities with which you may have a beef or no sympathy with, but it gets scary when it comes after you or affects you or forces things you don’t want.
Currently, as I write this, Occupy Oakland is congregating at the gates of the Port of Oakland, one the nation’s busiest.
Ironically, some of the workers there are sympathetic, and maybe some not. The Longshoreman’s Union is officially precluded from taking part in what is called a general strike by the Occupy movement by way of its contract with the port.
Truck drivers, many or most either just employees of outside companies or owner-operators, are caught in a bind. Whether or not they are sympathetic to any of the beefs of the Occupy movement, which are unclear, beyond they feel downtrodden for being part of the 99 percent rather than part of the 1 percent who control the wealth and politics, they’re just trying to get their jobs done and get home like anyone else would want to. And they have to pay their bills and groceries.
I’m a truck driver and I do go into ports, but so far have not had to go into the Port of Oakland. If I was prevented from doing my job and making money, it would not make me sympathetic to the cause.
Now at 9:05 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 2, I hear on KGO Radio, San Francisco, that the port blockage is essentially over, but I did not hear a clear statement as to whether ingress and egress was still being blocked.
Earlier in the day, some Oakland businesses were forced to shut down because they did not want any trouble from the Occupiers in the general strike. There were some isolated reports of vandalism, but that was attributed to troublemakers who supposedly do not represent the interests of the Occupy movement (which is hard to define since it has no official leadership or even platform).
Civil disobedience is sometimes necessary and sometime admirable — civil rights, Gandhi, and such.
But what if super right wing people who blame everything on foreigners, minorities, those with different sexual proclivities, atheists, and welfare recipients decided to engage in some mob rule? What if they went on a Nazi-like Kristallnacht type rampage?
I often run through Oakland, but I am not there now and have not ever seen any of the demonstrations there. I’m having hard time finding comprehensive stories that seem to depict exactly what is going on there. The Wall Street Journal today was reporting that the general strike there today “fizzled”. But I am hearing that it has shut down a major port and as many as 4,000 people were at the gates — that does not seem a fizzle.
There is some complaint that at times today there was some vandalism, but it is also reported that Occupy followers have disavowed that action. A person in a car this evening reportedly rammed some pedestrians, either by accident or frustration, and caused injury and the mob began to go after him, but some Occupy people prevented that.
Nonetheless, if this movement becomes mainstream it could have quite a drastic effect on society and send the shivers into the one per centers who sit up high all smug and do not live up to their social responsibilities.
There is an unwritten social contract under which it is perfectly fine for one to amass all the wealth he can or for corporations to do the same, but at the same time recognize some responsibility to society, way short of cradle to grave socialism, which stifles society. That social contract has been broken and that is really what is pushing this Occupy movement.
To reiterate, or to expand on something I mentioned earlier, there is this feeling, backed up by research, that basically our public policies, our government, is controlled by the one percent of society that have control over the bulk of the money. The Occupy movement sees their activities as the only way to protest, that the ballot box does not work because for some reason politicians by and large respond more to lobbyists than citizens.
I actually think they do or would respond to citizens but they have to see blocks of votes and they do not see that when so few people vote and when we have relatively weak political parties, with candidates taking their cue from big donors. Besides that, our existing parties, for whatever reason, do not seem to represent the feelings and interests of the populace as a whole — oh, that’s right, until recently when so many people were put out of work no one had time to be interested in politics.
The Tea Party has some of the same gripes as the Occupy movement but looks at things from a slightly different perspective, I think. The Tea Party seems to see big government allied with left-wing political interests who favor socialism. But they also lament that the government does not listen to the citizens.
I did hear one Occupy follower on the radio saying there is some thought of going for a third political party. I’m wondering whether a third party would represent the interests of those who would be inclined to follow Occupy or the Tea Party.
Some would argue it is political parties that are the problem, but it is impossible for a democratic government to enact the legislation it must to get things done without some way to coalesce various ideas into coherent programs and action.
I still think that keeping informed and letting those whom you can vote for or not know how you feel can be effective.
But I also think that if the system does not respond to the wants of the public something has to give eventually — it did in 1776.