Photo: Mat McDermott via Flickr
Since the Occupy Wall Street movement began, there's been plenty of long-winded pontificating about what it stands for or what it doesn't stand for or what it should stand for and so on. (Most of that pontificating hasn't come from the protesters themselves, but from media commentators who haven't set foot within a mile of Liberty Square.) So I'll keep this short. Here's why I'm marching with the green movement to Occupy Wall Street today, and why you should too:1. Climate change is among the gravest threats facing the world today, and it is a threat that requires broad collective action to address. That action must be led by the United States, the planet's largest historic greenhouse gas polluter. Additionally, important environmental protections are under assault by corporations who wish to avoid paying for their pollution, and uber-profitable oil companies continue to receive massive subsidies while clean energy gets the shaft.
2. Collective action means political action. We need a price on carbon emissions, limits on polluters' power, and support for clean energy. And we need it ASAP. Here's where occupying Wall Street comes in:3. The greatest obstacle to achieving any of the above prerogatives has far and away been corporate power. Wealthy executives of fossil fuel companies and massive, polluting corporations have used their resources and influence to sow doubt about climate change, lobby the government to delay action, and buy off politicians.
4. There will be no significant action to address climate change through policy until the influence of money in politics is stymied -- or until a large enough movement rises up to consistently demand said action.
5. Occupy Wall Street works on both levels. It is a movement for the 99% of Americans who don't have obscene wealth and the accompanying political influence. It's a movement that seeks to reign in corporate greed, to correct the imbalance currently sullying our democracy. It's also a chance to point out that the vast majority of Americans want things like cleaner air, renewable energy, and energy independence -- and that the majority of Americans even want the government to address climate change.
But the American public is losing the battle to corporate interests. Until we rescue the nation from Wall Street's grip and force our government to serve the interests of the 100% instead of the 1%, we won't just see worsening inequality, deepening poverty, and persistant joblessness -- we'll continue to see the environment suffer at the hands of opportunistic polluters. Which is why ordinary Americans need to stand up and fight for their right to a working democracy -- and an end to corporate dominance in our politics.
And that's why I'm marching with 350.org and the 99% today, on what promises to be the largest day of demonstrations yet. See you there.
(Follow me on Twitter at @bcmerchant, and send me a shout out if you're around!)