Regarding Michael Gerson’s Nov. 8 column “Radicals on the rise”:

At best, Mr. Gerson’s analysis is premature, and in many ways it is misleading. Out here in the Shenandoah Valley, in quiet places like Staunton and Harrisonburg, the Occupy Wall Street protesters have inspired weekly, nonviolent gatherings of homeowners, students, farmers, teachers, retirees and even small-business owners and children.

The intent of the OWS spinoff groups is clear to us, even if it is lost on others who might not fully understand what democracy means to hardworking, middle-class families who want to unify Main Street.

We just want to return our lives to what it once meant to be American: equality in every sense of the word; elected representation that gives a voice to every American, regardless how much money we can contribute; and an honest assessment of how to fairly regulate the economic systems that we all — not just the big corporations and financial services industry, but every small business, every family and every individual — depend on.

Donald Wilson Bush, Staunton

The writer is an organizer of Occupy Staunton.