A former Marine writes nine sentences, holds them up to a camera and becomes the face of a movement. For better or worse, this is how our political conversation moves forward, sometimes.
The unidentified Marine was participating in the We are the 53% movement, a collection of similar photos started by CNN personality and conservative blogger Erick Erickson to counter the "We are the 99 percent" cry of the Occupy movement.
The 53 refers to the percentage of Americans who pay federal income taxes - an assumption that the Occupy movement is home to people in the other 47 percent. If that swipe isn't clear, the line that appears in many of the photos, including the Marine's, is more direct: "Suck it up, you whiners."
The rest of the Marine's note:
I am a former Marine.
I work two jobs.
I don’t have health insurance.
I worked 60-70 hours a week for 8 years to pay my way through college.
I haven’t had 4 consecutive days off in over 4 years.
But I don’t blame Wall Street.
Suck it up you whiners.
I am the 53%.
God bless the USA!
We are the 53% co-founder and fellow conservative Josh Trevino acknowledged that the site is a "reaction against the hippies" of Occupy. But, he told the Washington Post, there's a larger message going on:
“Even if you’ve had a difficult time, that this is America, and there is still value in hard work, and individual self-reliance...times are hard, we are in the worst economic crisis since Great Depression, but nonetheless, the same American values are really the way out of it.”The counterpoint includes a letter to the Marine by Max Udargo, a member of the liberal web site Daily Kos. Udargo argues that he and the Marine want the same thing - for hard work to be valued and rewarded. "I don’t want you to 'get by' working two jobs and 60 to 70 hours a week. If you’re willing to put in that kind of effort, I want you to get rich." That's become nearly impossible now, Udargo says:
Take a look at the 53 percenters, even if you don't agree. There's an intriguing similarity to the Occupiers - a frustration with our circumstances and, implicitly, our country's direction. That similarity ends, of course, with the choice of where to place blame - and perhaps, the debate over who has earned the right to.
"Even though you and I had nothing to do with the bad decisions, blind greed and incompetence of those guys on Wall Street, we were sure as hell along for the ride, weren’t we? And we’ve all paid a price.
All the "99%" wants is for you to remember the role that Wall Street played in creating this mess, and for you to join us in demanding that Wall Street share the pain."
Peter St. Onge