A long, long time ago a group of guys got together to solve a problem they all had: mainly, they weren’t making enough money.
They were all hardy, entrepreneurial folk blessed with a classical liberal arts education, a strong work ethic and the wealth necessary to put it into play. Despite this, they were angry. They were angry because when they looked around, they saw a government that was more concerned with its own financial enrichment than the prosperity of its citizens.
And so they founded a government based on the ideals of individual liberty, equality and above all, the idea that a government exists to serve the interests of the people and not the other way around.
This was, as any rational observer could have predicted, pretty much a failure. The history of this country has been marked by hypocrisy, oppression and the economic exploitation of those without power by those who possessed it.
But a funny thing happened. The People came to actually believe the myth of freedom; of equality. They embraced the idea that a worker should receive what they earn, that the government should serve the common good and they took to heart the precept that their money was their money, dammit, and they’d be plinkered if anyone was going to take it from them. In short, America came to believe that it deserved a fair deal, and if those in power would not give it them, then they would stand up and take it.
History has since moved on, and the balance of power between The People and those who would seek to deny them their fair deal has waxed and waned. Through that, America has become an enormously successful country, largely due to The People’s insistence that America must never be a place where the distribution of power and wealth is so asymmetrical that the prosperity of the few comes at the expense of the many.
And so we come to 2011, and the #occupywallstprotests. Criticisms of the marches, sounding weakly from both the filthy liberal left or dirty conservative right mask an unpleasant truth, one that may be a little too ugly for the classic denizens of the political scene to stomach.
The truth is this: America is dying. Democracy, our entrepreneurial spirit, our very way of life is being choked to death by corruption, greed and the rampant criminality of the corporate and political elite.
And so the People are angry, and for good reason.
A peek at these protests — now not only an American phenomenon, but also a global one — will reveal a surprising solidarity among a wide range of people, professions and economic backgrounds. They all have one belief, perhaps that most fundamentally American belief, in common: When the government puts the interests of the few above the interests of the many, it’s time for a change.
Daily Nexus drinking columnist Chris Benham will set down his Natty Light any day of the week to offer you a piece of his mind.