By Jim Stanford on October 22, 2011
Activists returned to the Town Square last weekend for a second round of protest in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. The turnout was small, although the group continues to grow and a demonstration is planned for Saturday at the Capitol in Cheyenne.
Foster Friess, the conservative investor turned philanthropist and Tea Party activist, waded into the fray last week, saying protesters should take a lesson from the late Apple chief Steve Jobs. Friess circulated a post written by Joe Lindsley, one of several prolific bloggers he has gathered around his Campfire.
“Why don’t you follow the example of the man who created your iPhones, pull yourself together, and try to succeed, instead of screaming like two year olds for more cookies from the nanny state?” Lindsley wrote. (Lindsley, it should be noted, is the former small-town newspaper editor who quit after allegedly being spied on by his boss, Fox News overlord Roger Ailes.)
Never mind the co-opting of Jobs, who while he was alive railed against Fox News as a “destructive” force in America. Never mind that several of the more vocal participants in Jackson Hole are business owners, while another served in the Army and earned enough money through the G.I. Bill to pay for college.
These types of dismissive critiques miss the fact that citizens care enough, especially in a community known for apathy, to get involved in their government. It takes guts, in a small town, to stand on a street corner with a sign advertising your political views.
I attended the Oct. 16 protest on the Town Square and came away inspired. Rather than talking about the day’s outdoor activities or NFL games, citizens engaged one another over financial reform and income inequality.
Instead of dismissing such protests, we should encourage more of them. Our country was founded on demonstrations of dissent, and it’s exhilarating to participate. Don’t stop at Wall Street: Occupy the upcoming Comp Plan meetings, or Occupy the town council chambers the next time a pivotal issue is at hand.
For all their differences, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street share a common disillusionment with government. Perhaps the two movements can find common ground on ideas for reform. Maybe follow the lead of the Coffee Party and its call to eliminate money from politics.
Pete Muldoon, who helped spearhead the Occupy gatherings in Jackson, has championed exactly that, saying the 1 Percent own Congress, the president, Supreme Court, both political parties and most media. Imagine if Tea Party and Occupy protesters upset about politicians being bought could join together to enact real campaign finance reform. Let’s see if Friess, regularly a max contributor to right-wing candidates, would agree.