Several hundred Occupy Little Rock protestors marched through the streets of the state’s capital city Oct 15, and while lots of people, particularly Republicans, are dismissing them, they shouldn’t dismiss their concerns.
The protestors were a more diverse group than many would expect. I didn’t see a lot of the aimless young hippies they have been painted as being. They certainly weren’t a “mob,” as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor called them, “anti-American,” as Herman Cain called them, or “the FLEA party,” in the words of a Democrat-Gazette columnist who wasn’t at the protest.
The protestors represented a variety of political persuasions, judging by the signs – everything from the Ron Paul-ian “End the Fed” to the Marxian “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”
The protestors directed their anger mostly at big corporations and the government, and I agreed with a lot of what they were saying. Any American who is not outraged at the bank bailout hasn’t been paying attention. As the columnist Nick Kristoff put it, “The banks have gotten away with privatizing profits and socializing risks.”
But we don’t want America to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. Most corporations aren’t causing the world’s problems; they just provide needed goods and services and employ people.
Finally, if the Occupy Little Rock protestors really want to accomplish their goals – and right now, it’s not clear what their goals are beyond expressing their anger – they need to organize and work within the system as the TEA Party has done.
As they marched along the street, the protestors chanted, “This is what democracy looks like!” I thought, “Well, really, this is part of democracy, but democracy really looks like people voting, running for office, and contacting their legislators.” If Occupy Little Rock doesn’t evolve into that, it won’t accomplish much.