An attendee explains in laymen’s terms why simply bailing out banks with little structural reform is a terrible idea.
The New Way Forward protest yesterday was a bit of a mixed bag. Honestly, I’m terrible at organizing these types of things, and I was apparently mistaken on the permit process, which led to further problems. Still, for something that was generated spontaneously without an established group or any media sponsorship, I was pleased that we were able to put something together. The plan I had was to have a large gathering simultaneously show a presence for a positive solution to the banking crisis and reach out to elected officials, and we accomplished that on a small scale.
The bad: I was mistaken on the permit process, and I thought that you had to put down a deposit and give 90 days notice before you could have a permit. My solution was to split up into smaller groups as they arrived, giving them a phone numbers of our representatives in Washington and a suggested script to hold an impromptu phone bank.
The problem with this idea was that on such a beautiful day, there were lots of clumps of people milling around, and few who showed up to the protest could tell us apart from anyone else. And those who brought signs were instantly told to leave the premises by the park police, so who knows how many of the 130 who signed up online showed up but went elsewhere because they couldn’t find us? We ended up with about 30 people on the riverfront, where we were allowed to demonstrate without a permit.
Also, several Ron Paul supporters showed up to spread the word about their own event next week. I haven’t looked into their proposals, but needless to say, when you gather a group with all sorts of different causes, the audience doesn’t really know which message to follow. This was also a problem with some of the signs – someone walking or driving along the riverfront will see a sign like “Repeal the Gramm-Leach-Riley Act” and have no idea what we’re trying to communicate to them.
The good: I had several good conversations with people, including passersby who stopped to argue with us or find out more about what we were trying to accomplish. People do get the idea that there’s something inherently wrong with propping up massive financial institutions with hundreds of billions of dollars of our money with no fundamental changes to the financial system. And as I said before, a bunch of strangers who had never met each other before and had no connection to any supportive organization made signs and showed up in downtown St. Louis. They were largely not the type of people one might expect at protests either, working, middle-class people instead of idealistic students or aging hippies (not that there’s anything wrong either of those groups, either!)
So going forward, now that some of us know each other, we can coordinate better, distributing the workload and generating more ideas. We’ll have another demonstration in a couple of weeks, bigger and better planned. Since the nihilism of the Tea Party set appears to be growing, and the major banks have apparently only passed the “stress tests” because they can and will be bailed out again, it’s necessary for us to continue to put forward a positive and constructive solution.