In October, 2010; a "ruly mob" of 150,000 to 200,000 people filled the National Mall, (from almost in front of the Capitol to the Washington Monument (at their own time and expense). They came for The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, DC. According to Jon Stewart, the event was intended to be for: "the 70–80 percenters," who do not hold extreme political views and lack a voice in the media” alongside Stephen Colbert. The overall spoof format did not detract from the effort to address the overall needs that the American people want to speak. They also want actual answers from their government that they don’t believe they are currently hearing. Just short of a year later, on September 17, 2011 Occupy Wall Street is born and to this day, refers to themselves a “leaderless resistance movement”.
I attended both of these events (by happenstance more than by intent); and at both, I remember the overall swell in the crowd of harmony and focus. It did not matter whether the focus was on humor or on anger; speaking in unison was still what made it memorable. If either event brought about an increased understanding by Americans at home or on-line watching the world goes by, who are less inclined to pontificate or to scream from the mountaintops, (but who nonetheless are very anxious?) It’s a win. Americans believing that they are not alone in their concerns and that they won’t effectively disappear to the wayside immediately following an event one or two news cycles later, then it’s a success. Therefore, the key distinction between the two events was the small but lasting impression of the rally versus the complete lack of memory regarding why people occupied.
Frankly, compared to multiple protesters amassing in Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Tunisia, Yemen and Libya, the United States (theoretically the freest country in the world), seems to be the least driven to maintain that freedom rather than regress. But perhaps the bigger problem is that a megaphone does not suffice without a voice to use it. So the truest need that the American people have is for a spokesperson.
For the millions of Americans of all demographics, their overall view sounds more like a John Mayer tune. It is critical however, that we stop waiting and that those who confuse philosophy and integrity for power are not the right voices to speak for the people. The more I listen to John Boehner and even President Obama, I believe we have lost track of the real needs to pursue personal gain and there is a marked absence of personalities that can address this. I do not see Rand Paul or Jay Z having the overall pull, and I think that even if very intelligent and experienced, anyone named Clinton or Bush is already behind the 8 ball due to past issues and influences that are going to weigh them down regarding political activism and potential movement.
Currently what politicians of all parties believe is that Americans want the following: jobs, roads, guns, no guns, abortions, and mandatory ultrasounds, stand your ground laws, clip size limits, corporate votes and voter ID laws, bailouts of investment bankers and elimination of food stamps. Until we can determine as a community how to balance representation and regulation of special interests, there is no way to prevent distraction; making the most effective political stance for incumbents on all sides being to divide and conquer the multiple interests and distract everyone from what needs to be done while campaigns continue and which is charities under section 501(c) (3) get away with behaving like lobbyists and the limited for social welfare groups organized under section 501(c)(4) throughout the political spectrum keep rolling along because they convince the general public to assume it’s only “the other guy” that’s doing it. Organizations like Citizens United and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are extremely adept at persuasion, but convincing scores of people that the law itself doesn’t need to be looked at is still quite a feat.
These tactics are working remarkably well for fanatic extremists with clear-cut goals and focus; but they are also malevolent instigators of an even more elemental syndrome. Winston Churchill’s 1961 comment; "Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it" seems remarkably ironic, after watching the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 being defanged this week. But don’t forget that bait and switch, divide and conquer, distraction and confusion with no incentive to notice have been tactical tools for multiple millennia.
Conversely, a spokesperson who is willing to take on these issues without aspiring to become a politician, lobbyist, judge, CEO, etc. might be able to help. In the meantime, we as a nation keep searching for a spokesperson, without focusing so hard on the current power structure that we ignore the external possibilities. Power can withstand corruption, but the most formative potential is before that corruption hits. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela are daunting shoes to fill and, unfortunately the well for prophetic mentorship truly seems to have run dry.
So, if you are a powerful personality who has some altruism and real integrity, consider the personal sacrifice and severe physical exposure required. After determining that you are willing to consciously take that personal risk, take the step and become a real voice. If you can stay focused on the basic rights and not get waylaid by distractions that are in the millions, you’re our person —one who a leaderless resistance movement will be unable to resist.