As I sit awake this Thursday night, preparing to protest on the steps of the Hennepin County Government Center, I ponder what this protest truly stands for.
Throughout the mainstream media there have been some dubious assertions as to what the message of this protest truly is. This night, before the protest in downtown Minneapolis begins, I wish to shed some light on the subject.
In the past several years, it has become painfully clear that the interests of the American people are not held in high esteem in either lower Manhattan or Washington, D.C.
We've seen several bank bailouts since the early 1980s, only to find ourselves at the doorstep of financial ruin once again. Those of differing persuasions think we should "get a job" or "stop whining."
But jobs are scarce, and a true protest is beyond a simple matter of whining.
The politicians have failed us. Wall Street has failed us. Now, only Main Street America can save us. That is our message.
Though it seems as though this movement has no singular message, the real truth is about fairness and equality. Our economy is not one of equal opportunity, as protesters will shout about racial inequality or ever-increasing poverty rates.
These issues are one and the same, because unemployed college grads and stigmatized blacks and Latinos share this ailment.
Those fighting for gay marriage and environmental reform are a part of the same equation; protection of our public places and universal rights fall under the same umbrella that we call equality.
All Americans deserve the same opportunity and the same right to enjoy our public spaces.
As the working single mother and those protesting war will tell you, ours is a movement of peace and protection. These principles can only exist together. Indeed, we should all be treated fairly and equally under the law, but this principle has been lost.
We find it fascinating that some on the ideological right wish to limit our personal freedoms but balk at the idea of regulating business.
This protest is not a denial of the merits of capitalism, but a rebuke to those who would use greed and deception to undercut the honest working American. We recognize that our banking and corporate systems do not honor merit, only the bottom line and short-term gains.
Their thinking is foolish. Our future and the future of our children is being threatened by those not held accountable. We see bankers and corporate masters walking away from financial disaster with tens and hundreds of millions of dollars while working Americans struggle to keep their homes.
The common notion of capitalism is that merit and hard work bring rewards to those with the fortitude and determination to succeed. What we see in America today is quite the opposite.
In response to Tea Party activists we ask: "Why don't you join us?" The bankers and corporations that we decry are no friends of yours.
These organizations have no patriotism, no loyalty to the United States, and they are no friends of small business.
They have no fealty to you or me, for their course is to simply drive up the bottom line no matter the cost and no matter the method.
In the end our true goal is to save capitalism through accountability and honesty.
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Chris Nerlien lives in St. Paul.