Fast-Rising Protest Group Challenges the Outrageous Power of the Bankers
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Right. It's what missing from the conversation. There is this also this human factor that is involved. When your friend gives you a $100 as a political contribution to your campaign, you still want to take care of them. And that's what's happening at the highest levels of government right now. We have an ex-lobbyist for Goldman Sachs [Mark Patterson] as chief of staff for Timothy Geithner, and that's actually breaking a restriction that Obama was going to have. He wasn't going to have any lobbyists serve in his cabinet, but they made an exception for the chief of staff of Geithner. The "reorganize part" [of our agenda] is essential to seeing policies that don't favor the banks over the public.
What do you say to some young people, who maybe skeptical about street protesting? Why not just use online organizing instead?
I think there are lots of online organizing tools that are yet to be made, but this is a moment to come out and show that the public can be organized around serious ideas, and show Obama that there is political viability to publicly entrusted policies.... I think that showing up at a protest is one of the strongest forms of our political expression. We are glad that the technology allows us to organize something like that. I'm really sick of just signing a lot of petitions online. I do think that showing up at a protest or anything else is still the most potent way to express our political power.
Do you hope that something will happen immediately after these protests?
I think that because we are so well organized and we are seeing so much public support for serious reform ideas that the government can't do anything but listen to everyone. We are saying, 'We don't get to have private meetings with you Pres. Obama and Congress, but you have to listen to us because we are strong in numbers. We are asking for something concrete--for real structural change that we can believe in.'
What are some experiences in your life that impacted your work and politicized you?
I see a huge difference between people who are engaged and not engaged. Not just in politics, but in life in general--about their job, or some event, or idea.... And I think the thing that makes a difference is how open the system is and shows an individual that their efforts are effective and create change....
Seeing my family being less engaged. I was able to enjoy school.... They never had the opportunities that I had. They always had to think about surviving. We were immigrants to this county.... Learning about my own family history and learning about the different political movements that were here before I was even born showed the power of politics. Being political is one of the most powerful ways to live, I think. My parents have always been very poor, but were always impacted by politics.
My grandparents were the victims of the largest famine in the world, which happened in China. And my father was an orphan. And my mother was very poor too, and her parents just died from overwork. We were also affected by the Vietnam war, and I was born in Macau [China] in a refugee camp. And we were then sponsored to come to this country. So, all of that makes me value being political. Seeing a system like ours that can alleviate some poverty makes me want to do something. But when you have excessive growth at the corporate level, you really see a distortion of our political system, and our economy.