The recent surge of discussion surrounding the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has opened the discussion for the way wealth and power is distributed in the United States. While most of the “catch-phrases” of the OWS movement revolve around statistics that relate to monetary worth, there is also power inherent in riches, especially in our capitalistic society. OWS is interested in removing the structures in society that allow overwhelming opulence for the minority. We have those that are starving, and those that are wasteful, and the two most be reconciled. The same idea of overwhelming power versus underwhelming paralysis can be seen in the rhetoric of the Tea Party, a political affiliation that interests itself in dialing back the amount of power the United States government has. Most of the public opinion surrounding OWS is that it’s a “liberal” movement, and that the Tea Party is extremely “conservative.” However, the two groups of people really aren’t as diametrically opposed as one may first imagine, as explained by NPR:
At both Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party protests, you might hear similar opinions on the 2008 bank bailout, the federal deficit and government spending, and the influence of corporations and money on Congress. Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig says there’s good reason to this visceral sense by both the left and the right that there is too much power in too few hands — whether it’s the government or corporations.
Lawrence Lessig goes on to explain how interconnected the power of the government and the power of extremely rich corporations are. American politics has always been painted as a corrupt and money-driven organization, and I don’t want to perpetuate that exaggeration. However, there is truth in saying that politicians answer to lobbyists and campaign donators simply because of how campaigns are run. Reelection is predicated on having enough money to run a campaign, and to receive donations you have to convince people that you’ll be working in their interests. In steps large corporations, according to professor Lessig:
“Anyone who knows anything about campaigns knows it’s the people who contribute the maximum in a campaign that have the real power in Washington…Those who can contribute the maximum amount to campaigns represent about .05 percent of the population…[They] stand for the 99.95 percent of America who are not deep into the campaign giving [and] that can’t direct policy in the way that we see policy being directed.”
So it’s the system of wealth distribution that influences the power distribution. Americans are having their votes obviated by politicians who have no real responsibility to act in interest of their constituents if they know they’re going to be paid by the corporations whispering in their ears. As politicians continue to force divisive and hateful rhetoric down the throats of the public, it’s important to realize of a majority in our country. Solidarity will bring us towards change, and a better future for all of us.