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Social Revolution? Too Many Miss The Message

by John on 12/02/2014

Those Michael Brown protests: we’re missing the message.

Case in point: Joe Scarborough Monday morning on his MSNBC gabfest. He went nuts about the five St. Louis Rams protesting the Michael Brown shooting and apparent lack of an indictment against the cop Darrel Wilson.

If you missed it, the five players held their hands in the air, the protest sign for surrender, that was attributed to Michael Brown and that some testimony to the grand jury seems to refute ever happened in the Brown shooting.

Scarborough railed against the media for not chastising the players for getting their information wrong. He says the grand jury showed that this display of hand surrender never happened.

And Scarborough may be right. But Scarborough is missing a few points. First, these players have a First Amendment Right to free speech. But second, and more importantly, these protests are not just about honoring Michael Brown.

Yes, Michael Brown appeared to act like a punk in the convenience store moments before he was shot and killed. And sure, he probably was a wise-ass to Officer Wilson.

But, and Scarborough seems to bury this point: Michael Brown was a teenager. Who hasn’t done something stupid as a kid? But does that stupidity deserve death? Most people would say no. Most people would say he was gunned down in the street as an unarmed teen who laid there for hours.

No, this protest is also about:

  • Trayvon Martin
  • The kids slaughtered at Sandy Hook
  • Janay Rice
  • Thousands of US war vets who are not being honored as heroes but forgotten fixtures in our battle to keep government and energy costs down
  • The millions of Americans who feel the American Dream is no longer real. George Packer’s The Unwinding nails the malaise too many of us feel about the failure of the unwritten social contract we had; if we work hard and follow the law we can live in a country where we won’t be wealthy and famous but we’ll have a roof over our heads and a life worth living.

In fact, the protests we see right now using Michael Brown as a symbol are aimed at people like Scarborough. But it’s not just Scarborough we’re tired of. It’s Al Sharpton, Ed Shultz, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and other bloviators. People are tired of the media types like Scarborough and the others on his network MSNBC and the competing networks. They see mainstream news – that includes Fox News – as agitators who whip up storylines with hyperbole for their own profits. It’s no wonder TV news ratings have dropped across the board and the majority of people are now finding their own collection of news sources online.

The media, they believe, are no different than the politicians who spend the majority of their time as elected officials raising money for their re-elections and not solving the problems which could be the actual causes of Michael Brown’s death. What they see from the media and our political leaders is the ability to take an issue and use it to divide people rather than find solutions.

The rallies we see now are no different than the election results we saw last month. Yes, Democrats clearly did nothing to help the everyday person despite their alleged platforms to help the common man against corporate interests. And yet, Republicans will perceive it as a victory of their policies and ideas. What will they think in two years when voters throw them out? People aren’t saying, “Hey GOP, you’re right and Dems, you are wrong.” Nope. They’re saying, “Do something for us.”

That’s what happens when you have a political system that is a monopoly. There are no new ideas because in American politics there is no free market. Look closely enough and we resemble Iran, China, and the Soviet Union more than not.

Here’s what we want instead:

  • We want immigration reform that helps those who want to help our economy and be Americans
  • We want tax reform so tax rates are lower to stimulate the economy while not giving it away to individual and corporate takers
  • We don’t want to be going to war and causing extremists to attack us, but we want to be safe, so use our technology and diplomacy so are men and women aren’t just fodder
  • We want sensible government spending but that doesn’t mean we fail to invest in the future whether it is job training and infrastructure

But the media and politicians are only part of what most people think is the problem. The media and the political class are financially interwoven with the power elites that appear to have done little for America.

The majority of people are also leery of:

  • Organizations like the National Rifle Association that can use their money and some would say political strong-armed tactics to get their way.
  • Bankers who tank our economy and take what appears to be little punishment while the majority of people either see little chance to get a loan, job opportunity or wage growth?
  • Corporate America for wanting more taxpayer givebacks while complaining that too many Americans are takers when it comes to welfare and unemployment.
  • Major league sports that take our money and yet allow cheating within their games. (Some will say these sports leagues get off easy. And they should; they’re only entertainment; they don’t make our laws.)

Cops are seen in the same light as the power elites. It seems that all cop-involved shootings are justified. What seemed worse in Ferguson was a court system that went out of its way to defend Officer Wilson.

I am not espousing an elitist conspiracy here. We are recovering from the financial crisis, though slowly. There are also economic and social circumstances at play. For instance, we are seeing our society age with Baby Boomers hitting their 60s so more resources are going to more costly medical and long-term care. Technology, while great for business efficiency and profits, is also helping to eliminate jobs. And the new social media allows many of us – including those who are protesting – to use their voices, photos, and video in an unrestrained and sometimes just as destructive and inflamed way as the mainstream media.

Still, despite these trends changing our way of live, we only see our power elites – our so-called leaders – as doing nothing to address them.

For instance, no politician will tell senior citizens that they are really not entitled to full Medicare. The truth is: they are entitled to only 33%; the rest is being paid by taxpayers. But politicians won’t say that because they want to be re-elected and seniors vote on a regular basis. So, to pay for that, as a nation we will have to devalue our dollar, diminishing our economy in the future. At some point, when Baby Boomers are no longer the majority, these political leaders will turn on them.

But that is too complicated for the mass of Americans to articulate. It is much easier to use the killing of Michael Brown – and other disturbing trends in our domestic life – to ask these questions instead:

  • Why did it happen at all?
  • Was Officer Wilson trained enough?
  • Are officers like Darrel Wilson paid enough to make places like Ferguson not only a safe place but a thriving place?

Most of us hope that maybe the media and politicians will at least try to answer these questions rather than get ratings or getting elected.

Your turn. Is this perception or reality?

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