Wall Street has long been the home of the biggest threat to American Democracy. Now it has become home to what may be our best hope for rescuing it. For everyone who loves this country, for everyone whose heart is breaking for the growing ranks of the poor, for everyone who is seething at the unopposed demolition of America’s working and middle class: the time has come to get off the fence. A new generation has gone to the scene of the crimes committed against our future. The time has come for all people of good will to give our full-throated backing to the young people of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The young heroes on Wall Street today baffle the world because they have issued no demands. The villains of Wall Street had their demands — insisting upon a massive bailout for themselves in 2008, while they pocketed million dollar bonuses. The Wall Street protesters are not seeking a bailout for themselves; they are working to bail out democracy. The American experiment in self-governance is at a moment of crisis. The political system thus far has proven itself incapable of responding to a once in a lifetime economic calamity. With income inequality and unemployment at the highest rates since the Great Depression, it’s no wonder that almost 80 percent of the country thinks we’re on the wrong track. But the crisis of American Democracy did not start with the financial collapse. For at least 30 years, the system has been rigged by the wealthy and privileged to acquire more wealth and privilege. At this point, 400 families control more wealth than 180 million Americans. This great wealth divergence has resulted in an unjust and dangerous concentration of economic and political power in the hands of the few. It has pushed millions — especially the rising generation and communities of color — into the shadows of our society. The middle class continues to shrink, and the ranks of the poor have swelled. The political elite has failed to take the necessary steps to provide opportunity to the majority of Americans. A movement was born after Madison, Wisconsin, to oppose these injustices. It has now spread to every Congressional District. We call ourselves the American Dream Movement. We engaged 130,000 people to crowd-source our own jobs agenda — the Contract for the American Dream . In August, tens of thousands demonstrated for jobs in rallies across the nation. Next week in DC, we host our first national gathering: the Take Back The American Dream conference . The Occupation of Wall Street — and the occupations throughout the country — are expressions of the same spirit and dynamic. And these particular demonstrations, perhaps uniquely, contain the spark to grow into a movement that can be transformative. They are the first, small step in the creation of a movement that can restore American Democracy, and renew the American Dream. The hundreds of young people from all five boroughs that camp out every night, in the heart of the financial district, in the rain and the cold, at risk of arrest, are providing the inspiration to draw more and more out of the shadows and into the bright light of the public square. The occupation grows larger and more diverse every day. Young people, the majority of whom are under 25 and have never before engaged in activism, are managing the arduous task of a consensus rules meeting with no sound system. The nightly general assemblies are attracting crowds in the thousands to stand amongst a group of their peers and debate our path forward as a people. The occupation is a revival of a proud tradition of authentic, people-powered movements that have been dormant — and that we need now more than ever. It is building into the kind of massive public demonstrations — like those in Egypt, Madison, and Santiago — that can shake the foundation of a system of power that has lost sight of the public good. Now is our time to choose. Will we keep rewarding those whose financial manipulations have brought us to ruin? Or will we stand with those whose democratic innovations are breathing life into our finest ideals? Both groups are within blocks of each other in downtown Manhattan. For the past 30 years, the country has stood behind the titans on Wall Street and their values. We listened when they said that their banks were too big too fail. Today, there is only one thing that’s too big to fail: the dreams of this new generation, finding its voice in Liberty Park. All of America should now stand with them. Authored by Van Jones, President of Rebuild The Dream , and Max Berger, a youth organizer with the American Dream Movement.
Enough is enough. Ã‚Â Speaker Boehner’s decision last week to walk out in the middle of negotiations with President Obama was the last straw. Ã‚Â The time has come — at long last — for America’s super-majority to stand up against the extreme, hostage-taking tactics of the Tea Party minority in Congress. Ã‚Â Tea Party Republicans would rather shred America’s safety net and also risk tanking America’s economy than raise taxes one penny on their super-wealthy donors and corporate backers. Ã‚Â This Tuesday at noon, everyday Americans will finally have the chance to be heard, across America, at the local offices of every member of Congress. The American Dream movement — which includes dozens of organizations and thousands of individuals who are standing up for the middle class and working class families — is calling for emergency mobilizations across the country tomorrow. Ã‚Â We will thank many of our elected leaders, especially Leader Nancy Pelosi and the more than 70 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) who have stood strong by the middle class, in the face of this madness. We will ask others to step up as champions and support the CPC letter . Ã‚Â And for those who are threatening our whole our economy to win tax breaks for millionaires, we will hold signs and stand outside their offices — using peaceful pressure to shame them into siding with the vast majority of Americans. Ã‚Â The stakes are clear: millions of people are now facing catastrophic economic harm, unless Americans stand up and force the GOP to relent in its reckless drive to destroy essential middle class programs. The GOP is holding the American Dream itself hostage. Ã‚Â If the Republicans carry out their threats, for the first time in history, the greatest nation on Earth will be in default on our obligations. Ã‚Â Defaulting on our debt would be a disaster for our nation — and for every single American. The jobs of half a million Americans would almost certainly disappear. Loans for college or homes could be almost impossible to get. We might have to stop sending Social Security and Medicare checks to people who need them. Our men and women in uniform could stop getting paychecks. Ã‚Â Worse: our great nation would lose its perfect credit rating. That would add billions of dollars to our deficit because other countries would charge us more interest on our loans. Ã‚Â This is literally insane. And if you are shocked, appalled and outraged, you are not alone. The vast majority of Americans are opposed to the both the goals and the tactics of the Tea Party minority in Congress. Ã‚Â Ordinary Republicans know that the Tea Party is dead wrong. Ã‚Â That number includes the majority of REPUBLICANS. Even David Stockman, who was one of the chief architects of Reaganomics, has said that America will need tax increases. The Economist magazine agrees with him; so does David Brooks. No surprise there: so do 55 percent of all Republicans. That’s right, the majority of all Republicans think the Tea Party minority has gone too far. Ã‚Â The Tea Party position is so crazy and extreme that its caucus literally would have to throw out Ronald Reagan (who raised the debt ceiling 18 times), for being too liberal on the question of taxes. Ã‚Â People that extreme should have no moral or political standing to threaten America; they should attempt to impose their bizarre worldview on the rest of us. But that is exactly what they are doing. Ã‚Â The idea of a working democracy is now at risk. Ã‚Â It is time for DC to listen to the voices of regular people, again. Two-thirds of Americans want a budget deal to include getting rid of special tax breaks for millionaires and big corporations. Two-thirds of us believe Republicans in Congress have acted irresponsibly in pushing us toward a default crisis. Ã‚Â Americans know that no single political party has 100 percent of the power in our country, so no single party can have things 100 percent its way. At a certain point, everyone must put the needs of one’s country above the preferences of one’s party. Ã‚Â The Tea Party minority is perhaps the first faction in American history to seize complete control of a political party — and then act with complete and utter disregard for those basic American political traditions. Ã‚Â To get their way, they are willing to hold the American Dream itself hostage — putting an economic gun to all of our heads and jeopardizing the financial future of 310 million people. Ã‚Â Since the Cold War, no foreign enemy has ever posed this kind of threat to America. No foreign power could possibly do the kind of damage that the Tea Party minority is threatening to inflict on the American people. Ã‚Â Hands off Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare Ã‚Â Leaders like former Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Bernie Sanders have set a fine example in standing up to this nonsense. So have Congressional Progressive Caucus chairs Rep. Keith Ellison and Rep. RaÃƒÂºl Grijalva. Ã‚Â They should not stand alone. Ã‚Â Our democracy has been hijacked by a small group of extremists. The American Dream is in peril. It is time for the super-majority of Americans to be superheroes and rescue our economic future. Ã‚Â I will see you on Tuesday.