By Irving Wesley Hall
Otsego County supporters of the Tea Party will remember me. In 2009, we marched in outrage against the bi-partisan $800 billion taxpayer bailout of Wall Street. That Independence Day, I mounted the hay wagon in front of Losie's Gun Shop on state Route 23 in Oneonta to talk to the Tea Party about taking back America.
You received my remarks well. The Oneonta Daily Star published them as "What's Good for GM is Now Good for China."
Last Saturday, I attended the Occupy Wall Street meeting in Oneonta's Muller Plaza. We escaped the rain by taking refuge under the wooden walkway. Young and old, we gathered in a circle in the subdued light, passing around a hand mic to share each other's stories and ideas about how to recapture the American dream.
Such compassion; such outrage! So many good solutions from everyday people -- our neighbors! Plenty of hope!
Watching the raindrops, I thought back to the gun shop rally. Both gatherings were all good Americans. Both showed the gumption to take to the streets because this country is in big trouble. So, why weren't my Tea Party friends in that circle where you belonged?
You have so much to contribute to Occupy Wall Street!
When I spoke two years ago to a crowd the same size, I counted hands. How many Tea Party folks faced a bleak future because Wall Street stole their retirement savings and destroyed their home equity? Almost every hand went up. How many could manage the cost of a catastrophic family medical emergency? One lonely hand.
Guess what? We Tea Partiers are part of the American 99 percent that the young people are fighting for!
Now I know what you're thinking. . .
Fox News tells us that Occupy Wall Street folks are a bunch of anti-American, communist, lazy, and violent would-be terrorists with poor toilet training. Worse yet -- they don't know what they want!
Hello! This is the story coming from corporate media that lied us into Iraq, never tells the truth about the economy, and that trivializes every election as a breathless horse race between two equally irrelevant clubs of windbags. And they demand that we -- the 99 percent -- come up immediately with the answers to clean up the mess the media and the 1 percent created?
Fox's disinformation, fear mongering, scape-goating, name-calling, personal attacks to divide us as Americans -- these tactics are the response of frightened rich people whose only hope is to dumb us down. Divide and conquer. Time to turn off Fox News and wake up!
Most Americans are awakening from a period of denial while the reality of another Great Depression sets in. We're like abused spouses who finally open our eyes and confront our abusers. The left got suckered by Obama in 2008; the right suckered by the Republicans in 2010. That's an interesting coincidence, isn't it?
All of us -- left, right and in between -- have been hoodwinked by those we elected to serve our interests. We confront an epic economic emergency, a shamelessly greedy and arrogant ruling class, and a hopelessly broken political system. Stunned Americans are falling into the hell of a Third World country. And don't we know it! The polls reveal that we have lost hope and respect for the leaders of both parties. Obama's and Congress's approval ratings share rings in the toilet.
No one should be surprised that "Take Back America" picket signs are equally popular with the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. Let's take it back together and share it.
You are not alone! We have each other. We are all the 99%!
Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street: Unite, Don't Fight!
Hall, a retired businessman and teacher, wrote The Einstein Sisters Bag the Flying Monkeys available from Green Frog bookstore in Oneonta and Cooperstown Natural Foods. For a longer version of this article visit www.notinkansas.us.