Occupy Vacaville “occupied” Vacaville City Hall this week. Vacaville police had their hands full trying to contain the several hundred protestors who converged on . . . Oh wait. No, that’s not right. It was nothing like the Occupy protests we’ve seen on the news.
It reportedly started with three people and swelled to about a half dozen over the course of the day. A single tea party member showed up to counter-protest. Meanwhile, Vacaville police had made contingency plans to handle the crowd if it got out of hand. Bus routes near the Occupy site were delayed or diverted. And according to the Occupy Vacaville Facebook page, a woman who lives in a neighborhood near City Hall received a robocall, warning her that there would be an event Tuesday that might disrupt traffic.
The only way that “crowd” was going to disrupt traffic was if the handful of people suddenly decided to jaywalk.
But it’s not a failure. Occupy has already succeeded. While the tea party was successful in focusing national attention on the debt and government spending, Occupy focused the nation on income inequality, corporate crime and jobs.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has spoken about social mobility. Candidate Buddy Roemer has met with Occupiers. And aside from the shameless race-baiting, the entire Republican field is talking about the poor and wealth inequity. The president bested Congress on the payroll tax cut in part because of Occupy’s message.
Since Occupy’s message resonates with a lot of people, why didn’t more folks show up for Occupy Vacaville’s event? It’s the same reason why Suisun City resident George Guynn finds himself often sitting alone in various local government meetings. This week the Daily Republic ran a story on Guynn, who serves as president of the Central Solano Citizen/Taxpayer Group.
It’s not that people don’t care about these issues. They often simply don’t have the time or the ability to digest the complexity of issues before their local homeowners association, school board, sewer board, city council and county supervisors as well as deal with whatever is coming out of Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
This point was driven home to me in a letter I received after a column I wrote blasting nonvoters who didn’t vote in last November’s election. This thoughtful reader told me she was a single mother struggling to work, run a household and raise her kids. She voted in the past, but didn’t this past election because she didn’t have time or means to educate herself on the issues or candidates. She felt that it wouldn’t be responsible for her to vote in ignorance.
We need contrarians. The George Guynns of the world do us all a service by attending those meetings and sounding the alarm bells when things aren’t right. The Central Solano Citizen/Taxpayer Group looks out for our financial interests and helps inform voters. These issues are so complex they often go right over the heads of people who are focused on working and raising kids. I need this stuff simplified for me in order to pass it on to readers.
Success isn’t always measured by how many boots are on the ground or how many bottoms are in seats. And while it would be idyllic to have more people directly involved, we need the tea party, Occupiers and folks like George Guynn asking questions and driving the debate. As the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” Peace.
Kelvin Wade is a writer/author. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.