Power To The People: The Birth Of A Movement
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
I’ve read about protests in hundreds of United States cities, Canada, Europe, Asia and Africa. Yes, everywhere, people are “Occupying” parks, streets, squares and circles as a protest against corporate greed and an economic failure which has somehow rewarded those responsible for it and punished the rest of us.
The nascent “Occupy” or “Occupy Wall Street” or “99 percent” movement may be here to stay, and the question – from the political point of view – is which side are you on?
Now I’m not asking Presidents, Mayors or other elected officials or wannabes to take up residence in Zuccotti Park – however, that’s a possible first step in winning me and a large batch of the 99 percent over.
Yes, as I explained last week, the “Occupy Wall St.” movement, which appears to be spreading, is grounded in the same emotional spirit that drove the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the anti-war movement of the 1970s. Each of those movements took to the streets and achieved people’s victories.
A Quinnipiac Poll earlier this week said that 67 percent of all New York City residents agree with the views of the “Occupy” protestors; 73 percent want tougher bank regulations; and 87 percent say that it is okay they are protesting.
Watch slowly as the percentage continues to rise as it climbs towards what the protestors say they truly represent – 99 percent.
“It’s a free country. Let them keep on protesting as long as they obey the law, New Yorkers say overwhelmingly,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac Polling. “Critics complain that no one can figure out what the protesters are protesting. But seven out of 10 New Yorkers say they understand and most agree with the anti-Wall Street views of the protesters.”
So what does this all mean in the greater political picture?
This may be a seminal moment in American political history. We could be witnessing the birth of a new political movement which will change the direction of this country. The quiet 99 percent are beginning to speak out and this once-silent majority is not the silent majority of years past. They want systemic change to address the income disparity between the wealthy and not wealthy in this nation – between the 1 percent and the 99 percent. They want the campaign finance laws changed to prevent a government bought and sold – or unduly influenced – by the almighty dollars of the rich. They want the wealthy to pay their fair share.
Revolutionary? Such words don’t scare me.
The concepts make sense and therefore I support them. And watch carefully as those cautious or conservative politicos run away from the “Occupy” movement. Watch carefully as political stars are born who embrace the people in the streets.
I am woefully disappointed that Mayor Mike Bloomberg, a man I have supported for much of his two-plus terms in office, has chosen to lean toward his rich friends instead of hearing the cries of the overwhelming majority of his constituents.
So where are the brave, non-extreme politicos identifying with the protestors?
Supporting the people
An old friend of mine who has declared his candidacy for Mayor of New York City in 2013 has caught my attention.
For most of the decade of the 1990s, I served as president of News Communications and Tom Allon was my vice president. Together we had operational oversight of some 23 newspapers from The Hill in Washington, DC to Dan’s Papers in the Hamptons. Tom was bright, a hard worker and a man of passion and compassion.
|Mayoral candidate Tom Allon
And today Tom Allon is an announced candidate for Mayor of New York City.
Last week, Tom differentiated himself from other politicians when he spoke out on the “Occupy Wall St.” protests:
“We need to take this movement seriously as symptomatic of the brewing unhappiness of a society — of all ages and classes — that is becoming more and more hopeless about our economic future.
“Because the federal government hasn’t been able to generate a real job creation program yet, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo need to lead on this issue and creatively put New Yorkers back to work on rebuilding our infrastructure, our transit system and our dilapidated public schools. Perhaps they could create a modern WPA for New York in the 21st century.
“And I suggest that the growing group of peaceful protesters on Wall Street should start a new political party and all of the people who support their goals should register to vote. This would give Occupy New York the political clout to change government policies and advocate for good schools and good jobs in the future.”
Tom went on to suggest perhaps they should be named the Coffee Party, trying to energize those who viewed our society from the opposite side of the table from the Tea Party.
In the two months since announcing for office, Tom Allon’s campaign has received attention from the media, political groups and the public. He has started assembling an impressive campaign team including Cindy Darrison, who did campaign fundraising for Andrew Cuomo.
Coverage in the New York Times, the New York Daily News, Crain’s New York Business, New York Magazine.com, the New York Observer, among others indicated that Tom was being taken seriously. Appearances on NY1 with Errol Louis and on WNYC radio with Brian Lehrer helped provide the beginnings of an introduction of Tom to the outer boroughs.
As Tom does the campaign thing of meeting with supporters and raising money as he prepares his formal campaign kick-off on Nov. 16 at the Empire State Building’s Empire Room, he may be discovering there is a quicker way to separate himself from a field of typical New York politicians.
Tom has an old friend named Mike who is encouraging him to heed the call of a movement “symptomatic of the brewing unhappiness of a society — of all ages and classes — that is becoming more and more hopeless about our economic future.”
The movement born in Zuccotti Park is spreading throughout the world – this week there were protests in some 800 American cities and 80-plus countries.
Someone will likely rise out of this movement born in Zuccotti Park and capture the imagination of our city. Many who side with the 99 percent movement will, in the next several years, be elected to public office.
To my friend Tom Allon, I suggest he go spend a day and night in Zuccotti Park. The experience will change you and your candidacy. You have the compassion, intellect, platform and communication skills to learn from the protestors and teach the politicians.
Tom knows the power belongs to the people.
Tom, be part of them. Energize them; and embrace their message.
Keep your eye on Tom Allon.
Tom Allon’s campaign can be reached at: (212) 228-5222 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow me on Twitter @MSchenkler