Through the last couple weeks I’ve heard various commentators who find the protests offensive trot out the old cliches: “got a job!” “They’re just a bunch of slackers!” “They have no clear agenda!” “It’s just a bunch of aging hippies/ skateboarding slackers / what-have-you / all without real world experience or responsibilities”. The irony of crying GET A JOB! amidst 9% unemployment is lost on these critics. (And we know that the real unemployment numbers are much higher than that; that the stats have been cooked for years to excluded the chronically unemployed, those who have had their spirits broken by winner-take-all capitalism, and have given up. They are not supposed to count. But they exist. So they count.)
I want you to know, that your critics are not fooling everybody. Sustained political protest is hard. It’s hard because many of the people hurting have too much on their plate to commit to it. They have jobs, they have families. They have crushing debts. They have health problems in a society that sees healthcare as a profit-making opportunity, and not a fundamental right like police protection of fire departments. They may hate that the corporations that cut their paychecks have the rights and privileges of “personhood” but not the accountability, but they need those paychecks.
So it falls to the young, or the fanatical, or the misfits, to begin the movement. It’s always been that way. To horribly mix a metaphor, it’s the outsiders, the people on the margins, that start the tide. Now the movement you began is starting to grow.
I won’t say don’t give up, because that would be arrogant. I will say: Keep at it as long as you can. But mostly I want to say: Thank you. You are fighting for me. You are fighting for us. The middle class, the formerly-middle-class, and the impoverished. I know this. A lot of people know this. Your passion, your desire for justice, is noted.