On the streets of Washington, you will find two competing visions of America.
At the Apple Store in Georgetown, a tribute has been erected to Steve Jobs, artist and entrepreneur. Loyal fans have brought mementos celebrating his illustrious life. The things he created – the Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad – brought joy to millions as they allowed ordinary people to creatively participate in the wider world.
Jobs was an optimist and a revolutionary. This college dropout embraced the future and believed in technological progress. No longer would computers just be used by scientists – Apple created beautiful devices that were for the rest of us.
The process was messy. The iPod wrecked the music industry and ended in the demise of stores like Tower Records. The iPad and the Kindle are doing the same thing to the publishing business, with Borders already on the way out.
I don’t think Jobs fretted over this. The future was something to be welcomed.
Across the city, OccupyDC is offering a different vision of the future. Though they depend on Apple, ATT and other companies to organize their protest, they believe that corporations are the enemy. Big companies must be stopped, and bent to the will of the people. What this means, and how this is to be done, is unclear.
These occupiers no longer believe in the American dream, despite holding in their very hands the evidence that it still exists – the iPhone.
They’re against war but tried to force their way into the Air and Space Museum, to shut down an exhibit on military drones. They bragged about how they forced the museum to close, sending home thousands of unhappy tourists on one of the nicest days of the year.
OccupyDC wants to return America to a time when incomes were more equitable. They want a great leveling, taking from some and giving to others. With a belief in left-wing conspiracy theories, they reject our democratic institutions and call for direct action to achieve their aims.
Two Americas. One that celebrates individual rights and technological progress. The other that calls for redistribution by force.
Which one do you want to live in?