The right and their media have characterized Occupy Wall Street as socialist hippie movement, but with youth unemployment at 24.6%, Occupy is more Hooverville than Woodstock.
Many in the media have struggled to define Occupy Wall Street. They claim that they don’t understand what the protesters want. They narrowly define the movement as a protest against Wall Street. Those who fear the power of a popular grassroots economic movement insult the protesters and attach false motives to the protests. The mainstream media’s chosen angle has been to compare Occupy Wall Street to the tea party, but they have no idea what these protests are all about.
If you want to understand why all of those young people have taken to the streets, all you need to know is that 24.6% of American youths (16-24 year olds) are unemployed. The number of young unemployed people is more twice as high as the Hispanic unemployment rate (11.3%), and eight points higher than African-American unemployment (16%). These young Americans are taking to the streets and pointing the finger at Wall Street, the big financial firms, and the banks because they know who crashed the economy. The unpunished criminal activity of the banks and Wall Street are the reason why they can’t get a job.
For the first time since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started collecting data in 1948, less than 50% of young people are employed. For young Americans, this isn’t a recession. It’s a depression. Unemployed college grads are not only facing non-existent employer demand, but they also are in competition with the constant stream of new graduates entering the labor force. Would an employer rather hire a freshly graduated 21 year old with no experience, or an older grad with no experience that has spent years looking for a job?
This isn’t a protest about music, peace, love, and changing the world. Occupy Wall Street is an economic protest against many of the same actors who caused the Great Depression, banks and Wall Street. The people who are or will be camping out at Occupy protests around the country have more in common with the inhabitants of Hoovervilles than hippies.
The reason why Occupy Wall Street makes the corporate power brokers and rich so nervous is because they remember what happened they crashed the economy. The people pushed back by voting for FDR and the New Deal.
The changes that today’s protesters seek can only be achieved if they exercise their power at the polling place. In electoral terms, their presence could manifest itself in the form of voting for one political party over another, voting for candidates across party lines that represent their interests, or even a third party movement.
Whether they are protesting economic inequality, the banks and Wall Street having their corrupt practices rewarded with a government bailout, or the fact that they are the forgotten unemployed, economic issues are at the heart of this protest, corruption has broken the system and the corporate hijacked political process has shown no interest in solving their problems.
This isn’t a party. This isn’t a game. This is a movement of the people.