It’s a question many have speculated about before, especially in the wake of the Wisconsin protests that have gone on for months. However, those protests have mostly been limited to Wisconsin and have yet to inspire the masses to take their grievances to the nation’s capital—that is until now, or should I say four months from now. In October, thousands, if not more, are expected to stand outside the White House and demand that our troops be brought home. The protest is expected to last not just for a day, but for as long as it takes until the protestors’ demands regarding the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, among other things, are met.
According to published reports, a plaza two blocks from the White House is being envisioned as a U.S. version of Tahrir Square where thousands of citizens will engage in ongoing, nonviolent protests. The start of this alleged U.S. uprising would begin on October 6th 2011, which also marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan.
A group of prominent activists and grassroots organizations are said to be behind the upcoming protests, and have started a website to solicit at least 50,000 individuals to camp out at the nation’s capital for as long as it takes. So far, the guest list for this event reads like a who’s who of progressive activism, including Cornel West, Bill Moyer and Glen Ford of The Black Agenda Report. Initially, the goal of the protest was to call for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, but the coalition will add more demands that relate to social, economic and environmental justice.
Clearly, this planned movement has been inspired by similar social and political movements that have been happening in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Europe on a lesser scale. But in America, how likely is the possibility that ordinary people will take up the call for action since these sorts of radical political and social change movements seemed to have died out sometime in the ‘60s. For a movement to have the desired impact, there needs to be a commitment from the average Joe and Jane who are willing to give up a day—or several days of work—and come together for the common good.
The climate is certainly right for an uprising of sorts considering the number of issues that are affecting the general public. Most Americans agree that the troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan immediately, and six in 10 Americans think that the “humanitarian efforts” in Libya was a bad idea. Moreover, unionized workers are suffering from efforts to strip away collective bargaining and in some cases, are finding their efforts to organize under the scrutiny of the Justice Department. Cities and municipalities around the country have to decide between balancing budgets and keeping schools open. The rich got tax cuts and bailouts while millions of middle class and poor citizens lost their homes. Then of course there is the growing concern over a possible student loan bubble and the stagnation of the job market.
It would appear that whatever hope we had for a brighter future just might be spiraling into a cycle of cynicism and hopelessness. However, certain destructive and divisive policies, such as woman’s reproductive rights, gay marriage and yes, even race, have only seem to act as a wedge preventing people from coming together. This division has enabled our lame duck leadership to manipulate support and keep their powerful positions in tact – even as their constituency continues to suffer.
At some point the American people are going to say enough. They are going to rebel. Now will that day be today, in October or even next October? If Wisconsin is an indication, then we might be heading down that road. The time has certainly come for people to take to the streets and demand that their grievances be addressed. If all goes as planned it may not be an Arab Spring but it could turn into a U.S. Fall.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.