The Occupy Wall Street movement, a group of events protesting rising income inequality and arguing in favor of the “99%,” has recently started shaking American politics. It has become the subject of many conversations, including at my college.
In the two particular conversations that I recall, the tone was somewhat critical of Occupy Wall Street. One person stated that it seemed that the movement didn’t really have a set goal, and just seemed to be protesting for the sake of protesting. Another group of students was also skeptical of the movement; my memory is somewhat hazy on this matter, but they seemed to criticize the protesters as not really representing the working-class.
These anecdotal critiques may seem of little significance to most people, but they actually point to a very big problem with the Occupy movement. These people who were critiquing the Occupy movement were not conservatives by any stretch; they hold very liberal views. By all rights, the individuals I talked with ought to have been strong supporters of Occupy Wall Street; in fact, they should have formed the core of support for the movement. College students are some of the most liberal people in America; the typical college student is one of the most likely demographics in the country to support a protest on social inequality.
The problem with Occupy Wall Street is not really the goal of the protests but rather its tone. It just seems too hippie for most of America. I cringe when I read the “About Us” section of its unofficial website, which uses words like ”people’s assembly.” There is a very negative connotation that most of America holds when it hears a phrase like that.
This is very sad, because most Americans would agree with the aims of Occupy Wall Street. It’s just that the tactics of the movement will eventually alienate the typical swing voter.
If Occupy Wall Street can’t even win students at my college, how is it going to win Middle America?
1) Lakoff’s insistence that the movement focus on getting candidates with “its moral focus elected in 2012.” I couldn’t agree less. If OWS turns into a get out the vote drive for the Democratic Party, it would be a betrayal of it’s raison d’etre and its resonance with people who are thoroughly disillusioned with the political process, particularly after 2008, when Obama managed to sway a lot of people with his soaring rhetoric and promise of renewal. Election season is already well underway; the Republican candidate will be decided by January and Democrats will try to convince liberals and progressives to fall into line behind Obama. The possibility of OWS running its own candidates in this short period and with existing campaign finance laws in place, or supporting politicians from the existing bipartisan pool who share its ‘moral values,’ are slim to none outside of a few local races.
Agree that any appearance co-option by the party would dissolve what momentum is possible quickly, but I'm also reminded of watching the tea party in 2010 with their litmus tests and the "other" kind of influence they had on the elections (Sharon Angle, O'Donnell come to mind). Anti-establishment and in the spotlight only gets you so far. The tea party's influence on 2010 wasn't so much the candidates they ran and it definitely wasn't their independent fundraising as a "movement," but the exponential effect they had on disappointment with the Democratic Party. They got out the vote. Much more could be said about the decline of tea party popularity since. Was it always going to fade, or are they paying the price for a hard line approach that a majority of voters now blame for gridlocked government?
So you can't run your own candidates in 2012, but you can find issues or even specific legislation to rally behind. Does a candidate have to be right on every issue to get some support, or can a candidate be right on the most important issues and draw the crowd? And what about influencing members of congress throughout the campaigns? You're not getting the ear of a single Republican, no question.
I'm not sure the right answers for the movement. Questions of where things could go and the role of Occupy in 2012 seem almost two separate dilemna's, yet in the end they'll be tied together.
Without a tangible influence of some kind in 2012, we won't be hearing much about Occupy after the elections. Unfortunate reality, sure, but still the case. Anyway, go speak your mind.
Our politicians are bought. Everyone knows it. Conservatives know it just as much as liberals do. And libertarians have probably known it all along. The Democrats are bought and the Republicans even more so. They don't represent us. They represent their donors. We have taxation without representation. Our democracy is in serious trouble.
We must regain our ability to make a difference, to have our votes count. Right now, corporate interests and special interests dominate our politics because they can spend unlimited money. Unfortunately, in this current system money speaks louder than words. The pen might be mightier than the sword, but the checkbook is far mightier than the pen. In the congressional races in 2008, the candidate who had more money won more than 93% of the time. Our representatives don't serve us; they serve the people who pay them -- their corporate funders.
So, how can we change that? Well, we can build an army of American citizens willing to fight back against the corporate machines. We can also fight money with money. But we have to concentrate all of our resources into one single attack -- making sure we take corporate money out of politics. Now, you can never stop rich people from spending their own money on their political ideology. But that has happened throughout our history and we have survived that. What has changed in the last 30 years is the power of corporate money, which is nearly unlimited.
Starting in 1978, the Supreme Court opened the spigot to corporate spending in politics. Since then, the average American has seen their wages stagnate and their share of taxes rise significantly, while corporations have seen their tax burden shrink and the top 1% has literally tripled their income. There has been a massive redistribution of wealth in this country. And it's going straight to the top.
There is one answer though. It is the one thing that is above Congress and the Supreme Court -- a constitutional amendment. We must pass an amendment saying that corporations are not people and they do not have the right to spend money to buy our politicians. Corporations have no soul. They are profit-making robots. They are not endowed by their creator with inalienable rights. They are legally created fictions that are charged with maximizing profit without any concern for morality. They can and they must be stopped before they destroy our democracy.
We are not against the existence of corporations, we are only against their ability to buy and control our government. Robots can be useful, but that doesn't mean we should let them run our democracy. We must not allow multinational corporations to infringe upon American sovereignty. This is supposed to be a democracy run by citizens, not by international, unaccountable business and financial interests.
The objective of Wolf PAC will be to raise money and raise an army for the sole purpose of passing this amendment. We need a constitutional revolution. Please join us and help retake our democracy.
Corporations are not people. They have none of the constitutional rights of human beings. Corporations are not allowed to give money to any politician, directly or indirectly. No politician can raise over $100 from any person or entity. All elections must be publicly financed.
Now, in order to make this amendment a reality, we must take a series of concrete steps. The objective of Wolf PAC is not theory, it is results. We will pass the amendment and we will regain our democracy. Here is how we're going to do it.
We must gather up an a fighting force. We need programmers and organizers and lawyers and leaders. We need this movement to be in all 50 states. So, first we are doing a call for generals in this army. Please write into us and tell us what your expertise is and how you can help. If you can volunteer, great; if you can contribute, great. But we need you no matter what. There is no secret money behind this. There is no profit in it other than for our democracy. That's why this movement must be people powered.
Unfortunately it appears that our Congress is completely infected with the virus. So proposing an amendment through Congress seems hopeless. But luckily there is another way. We can do this purely at the state level. The states can call for a constitutional convention and they can ratify an amendment that comes out of one. And there is nothing our corrupt federal government can do about it.
We are hoping that the first wave of volunteers help us organize at the state level. Let's go occupy the states! Can you imagine all 50 state houses occupied until the people get what they want -- their democracy back! It can happen. You can make it happen. Joint the fight. Now, it's our time. Get up, it's time to get them back.