It is hard not to notice something new is happening. Actually, it has been happening for a while now, only with a different group of people.
The citizens of this great nation are getting royally pissed off about the way things are. Although they have vastly different -- and opposing -- viewpoints of who's to blame and how to fix things, they are making their voices known. OWS supporters, Tea Partiers: they have the same underlying message.
Things suck. We cannot go on this way. Change has got to happen.
Of course, there is bitter disagreement about many things between the two. Many of us who support OWS are quite frankly scared of the Tea Party and what seems to be their tenuous grasp of reality. Their willingness to support radical extremists worries us, not to mention the occasional willingness of their leaders and politicians to a) make things up and b) urge actual harm to the United States. (The "do anything to make the country fall apart so that Obama won't be re-elected" attitude seen during the debt crisis is terrifying.) What seems to be their inability to recognize that other people's lives are through no fault of their own much more difficult than theirs, is infuriating. (That "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" mentality only works if you have bootstraps to begin with.)
I am sure that they have similar issues with us.
I am not going to engage in the spurious "the truth is in the middle" charade. The truth is frequently not in the middle. This is not to say the OTW people are always right about everything, just that I think we are right much more often than the Tea Partiers, and when we are wrong, we are much less dangerous to the welfare of the Republic.
But we live, as the Chinese curse says, in interesting times: the status quo may not hold, one way or another. If it does hold, it will have to do so on the backs of everyday people, much as it is now. Change has to occur: many everyday people fall farther and farther into the abyss. But if the status quo fails...
Years ago, someone I know pointed out that in the wake of the 2000 election there were no riots in the streets. Transition was orderly. Who we were as a nation won out over what we wanted or needed as individuals.
What gives me nightmares is my worry that the sense of us as a nation, rather than simply opposing entities each claiming the moral and political high ground, has eroded past the point of where it can be recovered. That entrenched governmental and corporate interests will fight tooth and nail before they give way, and that there will be those who will defend those interests no matter what the cost. That the demand for change -- and both the opposing visions of that change, as well as the defense of the current system -- will grow more violent.
The result may be more Oaklands.
I am an imaginative and, I admit, melodramatic person. But I would not have imagined an Iraq War veteran* injured by police action against peaceful protesters.
I worry about what might be next.
*My thoughts and prayers go out to Iraq War vet Scott Olsen and his family.