Protests to redefine American dream

Above the gathered proletariat masses, the Wall Street bourgeoisie perched upon their balconies and sipped fine champagne, taking comfort in the luxurious lifestyle that their wealth and influence had afforded them.

From these balconies on high the bourgeoisie looked down upon the protestors of Occupy Wall Street and cackled at the sight of their silly little cause. “Let them eat cake”, they mocked as champagne spilled from their insatiable mouths.

“Let them eat cake”.

Four simple words that changed the course of European history. Four powerful words that stirred an entire nation to revolt against a monarch whose greed and corruption had brought great suffering to his people. Four forgotten words that carried on silently throughout the centuries, residing in the deepest recesses of the human mind, waiting to be remembered.
Four words waiting to inspire, until now.

A modern translation of this historical phrase would be: “We owe you nothing.”

“To owe one nothing” has become the implicit slogan of America’s current political landscape. The Tea Party Movement, which claims to fight for the independence of the individual from the “tyrannical” Federal government, has taken up this notion of self-preservation as its banner. Social Security, Medicare and welfare be damned; “to owe one nothing” has inspired many Americans to forsake their fellow man in pursuit of greater personal economic freedom.

However, the Tea Party Movement as a whole is rooted in a larger ideological crisis facing America today: the illusion of the “American Dream.”

Over the course of United States history, the “American Dream” continually evolved to fit the social constructs of the era in which it existed. For the colonists, it initially presented them with an opportunity for a new life and greater political freedom from England. During the Cold War era, the “American Dream” was one of economic self-fashioning as the belief that hard work and intelligence would lead a person to economic prosperity became the forefront of American ideology.

In our era, this interpretation of the “American Dream” no longer corresponds to reality. Although some may cling to the notion that effort and intellect can lead to prosperity, the American economy is clearly no longer rewarding such characteristics since a lack of jobs in the private sector has left millions of college graduates without job prospects.

For the first time in America’s history, an entire generation of students will face the harsh reality that the “American Dream” of yesteryear is dead.
This generation is the face of Occupy Wall Street.

The Occupy Wall Street protests started on Sept. 17, and the movement has continued to gain support, incorporating various groups into its ranks such as organized labor, environmentalists and political activists.

It is a movement that originated in the desperation of the millions of jobless college graduates who saw their hard work and intelligence go unrewarded by America’s current economic structure. They place blame upon Wall Street and its high-risk trading practices for having catalyzed America’s economic downfall, and also view the current disparity in wealth as indicative of the corruption present in America’s current capitalist system.

This peaceful assembly hopes to affect change by challenging Wall Street to answer for the record high profits of banks and corporations as the unemployment rate still resides over nine percent.
Wall Street’s answer thus far has been, “Let them eat cake.”

These four arrogantly spoken words that incited a revolution almost three hundred years ago can once again become a catalyst for change.

As they continue to drink fine champagne atop their ivory towers, you must ask yourself: What does Wall Street owe me?
It owes you a brighter future, so don’t settle for a slice of cake.