Since America has been at war with an idea for the last 12 years, we can sure as heck say happy birthday to an idea, especially a much needed one like Occupy Wall Street. Now it's true that the briefly highly visible Occupy movement hasn't been too visible under that brand name, not since the Extraordinary League of Coordinated Police Chiefs moved to end their tent cities. But like the revolutionaries of yesteryear, the hardest core Occupiers are now underground -- but just figuratively. Many have been very much above-ground in recent weeks -- fighting corporate ed reform here in Philadelphia, battling mortgage foreclosure abuses, or just reminding folks that we of the 99 Percent are still getting the shaft.
I met some really good people covering Occupy two autumns ago -- one of them is Philadelphia's Dustin Slaughter, who moved into New York's Zuccotti Park on the night of September 17, 2011, and was there for all of the big moments. He's written a good short essay on the anniversary:
While so many have been illegally kicked out of their homes, the disparity between the poor and wealthy continues to widen, police visit their terrorism on the voiceless and the dissidents, the state continues its widening and unaccountable surveillance net on all of us, and high crimes continue largely unpunished, I believe we won’t give up the fight. Find your passion. Find your niche. Do what you do best to make a meaningful change in this world. Keep your nose to the grindstone. There’s so much work left to be done.
This revolution is by no means over.
Let's hope not. Those folks who took to the streets in the 1960s (the ones that I kind of write about too often) tackled some incredibly hard issues -- segregation and voter intimidation in the Deep South, the war on Vietnam -- and effected real change. But the issues America faces today -- most notably income inequality, and how the 1 Percent leverages its wealth to cram things like corporate school reform down the people's throat, are much more intractable, more more complicated. This conversation may have started on an Indian summer Saturday two years ago on the streets of Lower Manhattan, but there will be many happy birthdays to come before we bring it home.