Dylan Ratigan Goes to Occupy Wall Street in NYC

Dylan went to Occupy Wall Street this weekend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and is returning tonight to talk more to the people who are there.  Here’s what he had to say about it on the show today.

In this city, New York, right now, there are demonstrations about 70 blocks south of us on Wall Street and they, like you and me, are “mad as hell,” whether you believe it or not. In fact, those demonstrations spontaneously swept dozens of cities this weekend and resulted in 700 arrests here in new york on Saturday.

When I saw all this going on Friday, I went to their website to see what these people were all about. Their mission statement simply said, “the only thing we all have in common is that we are the 99% who will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.”

That’s how they presented themselves. I read it, I thought, yeah, I agree with that. So since I live about five blocks away from Zuccotti Park, I went down there Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to talk, debate and hopefully find common ground with folks who I thought shared my frustration.  Here’s part of what I told them — you can watch the entire video of my exchange with them — fast forward to 6:00 in to see what I discussed with folks at the park.

I told them:

“I love what you’re doing. I believe that this can be turned into an action item for next year. Right now what’s being communicated is,”we’re not going to take it anymore.” Because this is very Pink Floyd, right? No mas. So now you’ve got these energy balls in New York, in Boston, in Philadelphia, et cetera. They feel the same way, which is that this country has become a bought government, an auction-based government that is unfair. Even if it’s unfair and you’re winning, you’re like, this is the most screwed up thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. And you know for a fact that even if you’re winning in a rigged system, you will be losing soon. But what I’m trying to start as a debate around the unholy alliance between business and state, and I’m trying to make a point, which is that we must harness this energy to affect positive change in 2012. And so my argument to you guys is that we have an opportunity to convert the energy that you have already harnessed into a channel, a flow of energy into next year, where we can push collectively for a constitutional amendment to get the money out. And the reason that Wall Street gets the appropriate villainy that it does, because Wall Street is the best vehicle to approach the government. So I’m offering this as a solution I found myself and offering it to you as a — as something — as a concept for you to consider and debate, as the action item coming off of this energy. And the action item is a single principle, separate business and state. We have a chance. And if we have a chance, we have something to do for the next year.”

And I found people from all walks of life, who agreed completely with that. And the more I spoke to them, I found that a single sentence, from tea partiers, old ladies, young radicals got lawyers from around the corner. Every conversation, there was a shared belief. A singular belief that wealth should only be a by-product of working together to solve problems with aligned interests for all and that a bought government is the barrier to doing that.

Now, bear in mind, it is very natural for the mainstream media and the finance industry to bet against these people, to write them off as crazies, to suggest to them that they are on a one-way ticket to nowhere. History in many ways is on their side.

But I have never personally seen such universal agreement around such a singular set of principles, among such a different set of people as the single understanding that the banks and other special interests have turned our democracy into an auction, and action must be taken in 2012 to stop it. In fact, I took to the soap box at their General Assembly, hours after 700 of them had been arrested.

I made many friends, as you can see in this photo. On the left, no pun intended, Goldie, and on my right, Calvin, a Tea Partier who flew in from Texas.

Calvin made a video and put it on YouTube explaining why, as a Tea Partier, he was at Zuccotti Park.  Here’s his video, and what he had to say:

As Calvin pointed out in his YouTube video, “The Tea Party believes it’s the government. And that’s not true. It’s the banks. Standing behind me is Wall Street. And that’s the people who have stolen our country away. Who bought it up and they’re selling it off to the highest bidder.”

My point is simple. This movement can be marginalized, it can be misconstrued, it can be written off. But as a reporter, I’m here to tell you that I agree with the people in that square and that the people in that square have very little in common with each other, other than their agreement with me on the single principle and the rising wave that a bought government is something that we will confront in the next year.

We are witnessing those waves, whether it’s our own campaign that began last Tuesday, which now has 82,000 petitioners after less than a week. We’ll be in Washington later this week, I imagine, whether it’s Occupy Wall Street, whether it’s the Tea Party, whether it’s the Rootstrikers, I don’t care how you identify yourself, this is a movement that needs to come together to affect positive change in 2012.

We have a chance. We will not let this moment pass us by.  If we can seize the moment and build towards making a cohesive push — collectively — for a constitutional amendment to get the money out, we have something to do for the next year.

Click “Show Transcript” for text of Dylan’s conversations at Saturday’s General Assembly and in conversation with occupiers at Zuccotti Park.