Nov 28, 2011 | Assembly candidate Abel Guillen made the political calculation many lawmakers will soon need to make: make changes to the system or risk being trampled by the 99 percent.

Protesters Nov. 2 at Citibank on 
Broadway in Oakland.

The second term Peralta Community College Board Trustee led the way earlier this month by setting the district representing over 45,000 East Bay students on the path to ridding themselves of financial engtanglements with Big Banks. The resolution put forth by Guillen is really a version of National Bank Transfer Day featured a few weeks ago, but only on larger scale.

Of course, the move by Guillen, who is vying the 18th district’s seat in the assembly representing Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro, is political, but it borders on political genius. Community college students are the epitome of the 99 percent. They are hardworking, dedicated, minorities, young and filled with extreme anxiety over the state of their future.

In doing so, Guillen is also correctly anticipating the raging tenor of next year’s election cycle and the country as a whole. The country is on the cusp of unbridled anger over the inequities of the past decades and beyond. I don’t know much about Guillen yet, but his loyalties to the union cause, in addition, to last night’s action, shows a thoughful populist candidate who is reading the political tea leaves with astonishing ease.

With every day that we see another insitution or city being occupied by protesters, more identify with the movement. Still, many are firmly on the other side of the fence while others are stiitng on the proverbial fence. What do they want? What good is this going to do? Well, here’s the first glimpse of what will happen.

Once elected bodies start proposing legislation and policies spurred on by the movement, the incremental gains will become noticeable. The Peralta Community College Board of Directors is very small beans when its comes to the whole state and federal landscape, but it is the first case around here of the protesters pushing for and successfully gaining major tenets of their cause. Maybe, because of the limited functions of small banks and credit unions, the community college district cannot fulfill its mandate to shed the evils of Bank of America and Citibank, among others, but so what?

The lawmakers in Sacramento, including some popular ones, like Sen. Ellen Corbettt, should take heed of the upheaval especially in light of more cuts to education. Corbett is a very capable and beloved leader in the East Bay, but she is a large part of power structure in Sacramento. The 99 percent is growing in anger and those entrenched like Corbett, although well-meaning, could inadvertently get run over by this populist rage. The Occupy movement needs not become a wing of the Democratic Party like its Tea Party foes in the Republican Party, but liberals like Guillen are right to meld its wishes into real action.