The appeal of the Occupy movement should hit home with just about everyone out there. The issues the movement has brought to the forefront are the same issues that have hit every corner of every town big or small.
The inequalities in our society, the growing gap between the haves and have-nots, the people struggling to make ends meet while others bask in excess. The mantra of the rich get richer and the poor get poorer are highlighted every time some Wall Street huckster is sentenced to a couple of years in jail for squandering the life savings of millions of people.
All the protests in the world aren’t going to help those people survive in retirement. All the protests aren’t going to turn back the clock to a simpler time when hard work is rewarded and not taken advantage of.
Sadly that genie is out of the bottle and it’s not going back in regardless of how many nights people are camped out.
Protesters can chant and march all they want but unfortunately I doubt it will change much.
Winter will come in our part of the world and camping out on the streets will lose its appeal pretty quick when the temperature dips below zero.
And judging by the reaction of politicians to the protest, it’s having very little effect on their decision making now or in the future.
And that’s the sad part of the movement. The idea is right, the timing is wrong.
The only time politicians listen to people is when they’re trying to get your vote.
Think about it, when was the last time Prime Minister Stephen Harper was out mingling with the common folk? Unless it was something like a scripted photo-op with Christy Clark in Dawson Creek last week, it was probably during last spring’s federal election campaign.
And that’s when something like the Occupy movement gets attention.
What politician worth his weight in ballots would pass up a chance to be pictured with the common man during an election campaign? Add in a cute baby holding a protest sign and presto – it’s a politician magnet.
A politician ignoring the protest would do so at their own peril. Especially when issues resonate with so many voters.
Anyone running for office would be lining up in front of cameras to give their opinion and support for the movement.
It would become an election “hot topic.”
Debates would put them on the spot forcing them to give their opinion on how they could answer the movement’s many concerns.
A movement like this could have brought many important issues to the forefront during an election campaign instead of letting the politicians and media dictate the topics at each stop.
If the Occupy movement can bring people together in cities like Toronto all the way to Nelson, then imagine the power it would have to set the tone for an election.
It might have been possible then but certainly not now.
With a majority government in charge and moving ahead with its agenda as promised, there’s little reason to get sidetracked by a movement, especially when they have another three years before the next election.
By then the Occupy movement might be viewed as just a quaint uproar by a few citizens. Politicians campaigning in the next election will have other issues to fight over, maybe sordid photos of a candidate or a secret affair uncovered by the media. Those things will once again whitewash the real issues everyday citizens face and the growing dissatisfaction with our political system and leaders.
Will anyone remember the G8 funding fiasco or the abuse of rights during the G20 protests? The crime bill will be stamped, sealed and sold before anyone can voice his or her concern at the ballot box.
And the same cynical cycle will continue.
The Conservatives did it right when they knocked the Liberals out of power in 2004 by using the sponsorship scandal as the election issue that rallied Canadians towards a common disgust.
That’s why the Occupy movement missed its window of opportunity during the last election.
Imagine the political party that embraced the Occupy movement and came up with some tangible ideas that gave people hope that their message was being heard, recognized and addressed. The promise of change is a sweet treat for voters.
The groundswell of support would begin and the parties would compete to offer solutions to the disgruntled, disenfranchised population.
Now, unfortunately, the movement is just a chance for people to vent, share their common concerns and raise their voice in unison. Many of us agree with the notion of the movement but many more realize true change can only come during elections.
Meanwhile in Ottawa, Canadian politicians are getting comfortable in their new offices and learning about their pension plans. They have Christmas break coming up and plans to make.
Whether any of them are listening to the Occupy movement is another matter.
Guy Bertrand is the managing editor of the Trail Daily Times