This election will not be stolen.
Occupy Wall Street and its affiliated Occupy groups sprinkled across the country appear to have missed two historic axioms of grassroots activism. The first is that spontaneous uprisings, because they are unplanned, lack the stamina of long distance runners. And should a movement pause too long to catch its breath, it risks never getting up to speed again.
The political landscape is littered with the corpses of activist groups that decided to cruise a bit thinking that their burst of popularity and surging momentum were enough to carry them to the finish line. They failed because they were neophytes who didn’t know that when a popular movement is riding high and fast then abruptly slows to a crawl, its camp followers get edgy, they feel that ebb of energy, take it as the first signs of failure and slip away. Once they lose their faith, you won’t get a second chance to round them.
Enter the Midnight Marauders
At 1:00 a.m. last November 15th, exactly one month after OWS thought it had worked out a cease fire with New York City and the owners of Zucotti Park, an NYPD riot squad hit the park like it was a sleepy Vietnamese village in 1968. The protesters hadn’t seen New York’s shock troops with their most intimidating game faces on until their arrival that night was announced by something like: “You‘ve got ten minutes to get your asses and all your shit out of here!”
Even minimal resistance by an occupier was met with the thwack of a police baton, a face first introduction to the pavement and a pair of zip cuffs pinning his hands behind his back. People who weren’t moving fast enough for officers were encouraged to do better with spritzes of tear gas or pepper-spray and stiff prodding with the ends of billy clubs. About two hundred protesters were arrested.
In the aftermath, anything left behind—the 5,000-book People’s Library, laptops, sleeping bags, tents, etc.—was tossed into dumpsters to be hauled off or they just disappeared. Had there been straw huts and water buffalo in the park, they would have been put to the torch and shot to death.
Aside from the lack of reasonable notice, official disregard for personal property rights and the unnecessarily harsh treatment of non-violent people exercising their First Amendment rights, there was the incredulity of watching the power of the state being used to seize and discard books, an action akin to book burning.
Western society has always regarded books as close to sacred—symbols of a civilization with high intellectual values, values worthy of constitutional protection. The seizure of books under the cloak of darkness evoked memories of grainy black and white 1950s newsreels reporting on similar happenings in communist police states.
In less than two weeks, Occupy encampments in cities across the country—Portland, Oakland, Salt Lake City, Orlando, Los Angeles, Berkeley and San Diego—were either cleared out by police or awaiting action on court orders directing the immediate eviction of protesters from public spaces.
That these unexpected offensives against Occupy left its members stunned and in disarray is largely attributable to the Movement’s absence of organizational structure. Whether the Movement’s been damaged enough to make it go away remains to be seen. Should that occur, Occupy would be responsible for its own demise.
The spontaneous support of thousands of activists flowing into the Big Apple late last summer and millions more pouring into the streets of other cities, may have given OWS the idea that it could ride its giant wave of popular protest all the way to “meaningful change.”
Which brings us to the second axiom of grass-roots politics. A mass movement cannot survive without a network of strategists, planners, steering committees, fund raisers, group leaders and communications specialists. All are essential components for coordinating a large scale action, keeping it operating at peak efficiency and moving forward cohesively. Occupy views hierarchical structure as inappropriate in a "pure peoples movement" or as an inevitable cause of deadlock, screw-ups and foot-dragging.
Of greatest concern is the Movement's betting on ironclad adherence to a hyper form of non-violent action will generate such overwhelming public support that, ultimately, it will compel the powers that be to capitulate. But the actions of NYC authorities on November 14th make the capitulation theory untenable. A month earlier, on October 15th, the City was intent on ridding Zucotti Park of protesters that very day but backed off at the last moment. It appeared to onlookers that the battle had been won and popular support for OWS shot up like a rocket. Then came November 14th.
That night the City proved how activists waste time pleading their case to powerless and corrupt officials. Elected authorities are bound by the laws they have sworn to uphold and ties to their political parties. The biggest factor is that office holders are engulfed in the tidal wave of money that flows through our electoral system where dollars, not votes, decide elections.
You can inspire millions of angry people to take to the streets, hand each one a poster to wave, get them to sing protest songs and to march up and down the streets and clog intersections for months. Ultimately, these exercises are like rain dances. And when large scale political uprising like Occupy fails to achieve something concrete e.g., a reinstatement of overtime pay or collective bargaining agreement, it forfeits the confidence and loyalty of followers and supporters.
Here’s how one reader described his disappointment in a letter to the editor of Florida Today newspaper in Brevard County, Florida:
"Occupy movement not accomplishing goals"
What is the point of the Occupy Wall Street movement? What is really being accomplished, besides getting the attention of the news media?
Are Wall Street and American business changing because of Occupy Wall Street? The only way to truly affect Wall Street and corporate America is through their pocketbook.
Instead of gathering and protesting, I suggest we get together to determine which companies are gouging the public and boycott them. And also determine which companies are getting political protection at the expense of the American people, and vote those politicians offering that protection out of office.
Indian Harbour Beach
There's Something Missing Here
Occupy is doomed if it continues clinging to the belief that it can keep building political clout and maintain its public support by insisting members remain submissive to abusive treatment—being tear-gassed, herded like sheep, and assaulted by police officers who keep their jobs by doing what they are ordered to do. Occupy’s strategy of submissiveness creates a perception that the group is soft or timid and it reveals a misapplication of traditional concept of civil disobedience.
The letter immediately below comes from a woman who knows more about what goes on in these social struggles than moderate whites like me do, addresses Occupy’s use of civil disobedience:
you know what? I’m a the biggest weepiest most sentimental believer in non-violence organizing tactics. the BIGGEST. Practically, it is an entire community working together to keep each other safe. Sentimentally, it’s the most fucking courageous shit I’ve ever seen, the type of brave I work to be.
but even I—the biggest weepiest most sentimental believer in non-violence—don’t believe in this commitment to non-violence I’m seeing all over the OWS thing right now. whether it’s ‘peaceful’ marchers purposefully excluding the voices of anarchists or community members saying “as long as they keep it peaceful we support” or bystanders crying about how protestors ‘pushed’ the police to get attention—what I feel like what i’m seeing is a commitment to middle class values of “cleanliness” “orderliness” and ‘obedience’ hiding under the *guise* of “peaceful non-violence.”
if we do recall—in perhaps the most famous US led example of peaceful non-violence protest—MLK leading the marchers across the bridge—that was an act of civil disobedience. they KNEW they were going to get in trouble for marching, the KNEW they were going to get in trouble for crossing the bridge.
. . . were they trying to get attention? absolutely according to the middle class white liberals of the time, who didn’t mind the colored folk singing church songs in their church basements, but openly wondered if it was “time” for the movement to be doing what it was doing when it was out marching and doing sit down protests. this effort to “get attention” vexed white folks so much, MLK felt the need to address it. see: letter from birmingham jail
those who are showing a commitment to middle class values have the process all wrong. the “peaceful” and the “non-violent” come in *reaction* to the violence of police retaliation against the deliberate disobedience against middle class values. the “non-violent” happened when the police started to beat the shit out of the marchers and the marchers fell on top of each other . . . non-violence was not showing a commitment to laws . . . .
. . . The tactics are useful but the direction it’s taken is sad. The tactics are used in a way that directly prevents any real change from occurring because people protest in only the ways deemed “acceptable” and in a way not to “alienate potential sympathizers” when in reality, those tactics alienate even more people. Violence gets a good tongue lashing when those oppressed commit the acts but not when the violent occurrences of our daily lives at the hand of our oppressors takes place. So yea. But I like everything you said.
A Mission Statement Without A Stated Mission
We are American citizens dedicated to peaceful, non-violent, and positive actions to begin a dialogue addressing corporate greed and government corruption.
We welcome everyone!
We endorse no candidate nor political party or agenda.
We stand in solidarity with Occupy Wall St.!
The trouble with this mission statement is that it doesn’t offer people a reason to become a part of the Movement—the mission’s purpose is unstated. It fails to name a single “positive action” to be taken, but instead talks about establishing a “dialogue” with an unnamed entity. Who’s going to participate in the “productive dialogue” about corporate greed and government corruption? Will there be a plan of action? And, without endorsing a candidate, political party or agenda, what does Occupy stand for? What is it against? What is it proposing that people do about corporate greed and government corruption?
The point is that if you’re going to call out activists, you better have something for them to do. Activists are goal-directed, strong-willed individuals. They aren’t going to appreciate being called to the barricades just to shuffle around in a few patriotic parades.
A Letter from Birmingham City Jail
The template for nonviolent protests is “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” penned by Martin Luther King, Jr. while he was imprisoned there in April, 1963 for his participation in nonviolent demonstrations against segregation. It was written in response to eight local white clergymen who had denounced King's nonviolent protest in the Birmingham News, demanding an end to the demonstrations for desegregation of lunch counters, restrooms and stores. King's letter had to be smuggled, a bit at a time, out of the jail by his attorneys. An intensely disciplined Christian, King molded a modern manifesto of nonviolent resistance out of the teachings of Jesus and Gandhi.
With regard to the Occupy Movement King's letter explains why Occupy is not a true nonviolent protest. To begin, it’s noteworthy that he named it “nonviolent direct action.” In answer to his fellow clergymen King said:
You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to so dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.
. . . The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.
The Occupy Movement appears stuck on the idea that nonviolence demands that protesters shall not engage in any violations of law. This is a misinterpretation of nonviolent resistance. Had the civil rights movement of the 1960s taken this approach the schools, lunch counters, movie theaters and restaurants would still be segregated.
My wife and I participated in the first local Occupy march. We weren’t looking for trouble and weren’t interested in starting any. The purpose of the march was to get a substantial number of citizens together and call public attention to the Movement by parading along the side of a major highway waving posters, American flags and banners and making some noise with a couple of drums and brass horns.
We wanted to alert other citizens that some of us had finally had enough of all the crap coming out of Washington and state capitols and were ready to do something about it. We were reaching out to people who were similarly irritated and, being energized or encouraged by our example, might come to one of our meetings and give the Movement a larger presence and louder voice by through their participation in future protest actions in our community and elsewhere.
The sheriff’s office was aware of plans for the march and several deputies were on hand to oversee the operation, keep traffic flowing, make sure that businesses along the route weren’t being disrupted and to ensure the peace. As we ambled down a sidewalk near the road’s edge (as instructed by law enforcement) we received a lot of positive feedback from the friendly honking of car and truck horns, cheers of riders, and approving whistles and applause.
The march was a mile or so long and ended at a major intersection of two county highways where we stood on the sidewalk (as law enforcement instructed us to do), waving our flags and posters at the passing traffic. We sang, cheered and hollered back and forth with a few passersby, all of it in good fun. People were vibrant and positive, nodding their heads approvingly. The demonstration ended about two hours later. There were no ugly incidents, but there were people who let us know they did not agree with us. At all.
Since then there have been a few other marches, protests and demonstrations. There are some very dedicated Occupy people out there, hanging tough week after week. They attend the General Assemblies, support other groups with similar objectives and stay active in what appears to be the embers of a promising movement.
Three months have passed and marching has become worn out, old hat and not a strategic tool anymore. Occupy has become a movement without an edge, without demands, without an agenda that’s addressing the financial conflict and social ills that divide 99% of us from the 1%. Public officials don’t act the least bit concerned about what Occupy is up to anymore. Their attention has turned back to hunting campaign financiers with deep pockets.
The problem is that there is NO ELECTRICITY IN THE AIR. NO NOISE. NO EXCITEMENT. NO TENSION. NO CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE. Without mass activity accompanied by noisy energetic people and blasting horns, people are concluding that Occupy is fading away. If protesters continue plodding along as they are and no one is inconvenienced or angered there will be no interest and nothing newsworthy to attract the media. There is NO DYNAMIC ACTION AND NO DEMANDS FOR CHANGE PROPELLING NEW MESSAGES TO JACK UP THE PROTEST. Is anyone one taking the Occupy Movement seriously these days?
A Perfect Example of How Nonviolent Direct Action Works
Nonviolent direct action doesn’t mean stones must be thrown or windows broken. It doesn’t call for vandalism or rolling cars over and setting them on fire, or setting off smoke bombs. It’s not an invitation to run through stores, knock over garbage containers or to frighten bystanders and shoppers.
It means having the courage and commitment to remain nonviolent while others are acting violently by kicking and beating on you. Nonviolent direct action involves having the capacity for confronting the opposition with the expectancy that they may physically attack you. Other than covering your head and using your arms to shield yourself, your response is to refrain from retaliation and remain nonviolent.
The best current example of this was last October when students at the University of California at Davis, locked arm-to-arm and sitting, blocked a campus sidewalk and refused a police order to vacate the walkway. They remained quietly sitting and, apparently expecting it, leaned forward in a semi-effective pose while they were heavily peppered sprayed. The stinging red clouds of gas broke the group apart. As they became scattered about, coughing and choking, they did not attack the police. More important, neither did the several hundred students who were standing nearby on the quad, chanting, "Shame on you! Shame on you!" as police moved in, handcuffed the limp, non-resisting students and carted them off.
The conflict set off a nationwide firestorm of protest from ordinary citizens angered by the way the students were handled. The notoriety of the event forced school administrators to respect student protesters' rights to demonstrate. More important, new procedures have been put in place for managing similar protests non-violent conflicts at many campuses around the country.
Nonviolent direct action is a tactic whose adherents refrain from reacting to violence against them with more violence. The failure to retaliate raises tension among the observers, heightens public awareness of the protest and ultimately brings about change through the will of the people and authorities to end the tension.
A Day in History That Should Put Today's
Voter Suppressionists to Shame
They started out on sunny Sunday morning, March 7, 1965. It was a civil rights march, a protest over the fact that black citizens who had been granted the right to vote over a hundred years earlier were still being systematically denied the right to cast a ballot in southern states.
About 600 marchers planned a three-day march from Selma, Alabama to the state capitol in Montgomery, about 55 miles away. The group began in downtown Selma on a street leading to Route 80, the main road to Montgomery. The street was lined with loud angry, whites cussing and threatening the black entourage many of which were dressed in their Sunday best and carrying American flags and bibles. Other voices from somewhere among the bystanders, were shouting warnings about there being reprisals for this flaunting of white authority.
The marchers were six blocks out of town when they were forced to halt at a metal barricade put in place to block their way across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the road to Montgomery. Standing behind the barricade were local deputies, state police and Sheriff Jim Clark’s mounted posse. But for the rearing, stomping and snorting of nervous horses, the scene was strangely quiet, like the elements for making other sounds had been sucked out of the air.
For a minute or so, the black protesters and white lawmen stood face-to face in the silence. Then a trooper with a bullhorn announced “. . . I give you three minutes to disperse and go back to your church. This is an unlawful march and it will not be allowed to continue.”
With about a minute left to go, officers began slipping their gas masks on and without any further order, gas canisters were tossed into the air so that each one arced as it hurtled deep into the crowd of demonstrators. The canisters exploded as they hit the pavement and white clouds came hissing out of them. Seconds later the air began to fill with the moans and coughing of protesters trying to escape the stinging cloud of acrid smoke.
Enshrouded and blinded by the gas, people were stumbling about and bumping into others while lawmen attacked on foot and horseback, moving quickly into the crowd, striking at them with billy clubs and rifle butts. The melee went out for several minutes. Over fifty people were hospitalized that day now remembered as “Bloody Sunday.”
The attack was broadcast worldwide to millions of viewers shocked and horrified by the surprising brutality police used in dispersing a crowd of black Americans who were peacefully assembled and pursuing their right to vote.
The protesters were turned back that day, but international attention was now focused on black people and their right to vote in the world’s largest democracy. The tension created by the peaceful assertion of constitutional rights and rigid enforcement of the law did not disappear.
There were two more marches that month. The third, on Marct 21st succeeded in getting the marchers to Montgomery because President Lyndon Baines Johnson activated the national guard to escort the marchers who now numbered 3,200 people). Five months later he signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
State Legislatures Are Working Hard to Deny Your Right to Vote in This Year's Presidential Election and for Years to Come
The 15th, 19th and 16th Amendments of our Constitution grant every American the right to vote. However, because state and local elections generally coincide with federal ones, it has been considered practical and economical to allow voter registration to be managed by the states. It is this facet of the election process that Republicans are seizing upon to defeat President Obama in November.
Funded in part by the billionaire Koch brothers, new GOP governors and legislators across the South and Midwest are engaged in a deliberate and systematic attempt to prevent millions of young voters, minorities, elderly voters, students and low-income voters from exercising their right to vote. There has never been a larger or more obvious attempt to derail the linchpin of American democracy. [At left is an activist symbol of the various enterprises through which the Koch brothers affect the economy, the environment and our lives.]
In over 35 states Republican dominated legislatures have been busy rigging this fall’s election by passing new laws that: sharply reduce early voting (from 14 to 8 days in Florida and from 35 to 11 in Ohio); reducing the number of DVM offices, eliminating weekend work days and cutting weekday operating hours, all of which is intended to make tremendously difficult to get or renew drivers licenses which can be used to vote. They've created barriers to voter registration as in Florida where the League of Women Voters has backed off helping voters of both parties to register because its volunteers face a $1,000 fine and felony prosecution for every new voter registration card not submitted to the state board of elections within 48 hours of being collected.
The introduction of Early Voting laws initially drew bipartisan applause when they provided greater access to the polls and added convenience for the public, resulting in higher voter turnouts in many states. When in 2008, the turnout hurt Republicans and helped Democrats, the GOP stepped up its voter suppression campaign which had all ready been in operation for six years.
Aside from stripping state workers of collective bargaining rights, the new Republican majorities devoted first year in office to creating laws that prevent income groups that usually favor Democrats and Independents from voting. A new Wisconsin law, for example, does not allow college students to vote using their student ID as identification unless it has a current address and two-year expiration date—requirements that no college or university in the state currently meets. [At right Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, an example of the supreme arrogance with which newly elected midwestern governors have chosen to "lead."]
In Texas, an “emergency” act passed Gov. Rick Perry's legislative majority approves concealed-weapon permits as an acceptable form of voter ID but denies of the use student IDs.
As Bob Herbert of The New York Times wrote, the U.S. goes through the motions of elections, but the reality is that behind the scenes, “the financial and corporate elites” run the country, buy off politicians and dictate policy to an astonishing degree. “It doesn’t matter what ordinary people want. What matters is the tens of millions of dollars that people like billionaire businessmen David and Charles Koch can dump into campaigns. They want Washington to lower taxes on the rich, cut services to the poor and sick, and ignore climate change.”
Between 15 and 20 million Americans are suffering due to government policies pushed through Congress by the rich. As for the poor and working poor, it has become a truism that neither party speaks up for them anymore.
Our Democracy is Being Dissolved By Money
Why is it that good advice never seems to permeate peoples' brains? We've heard it again and again. Thousands of times. Take somebody who's 45 years old, how many times do you think he or she's heard this: The more money you allow to be poured into election campaigns the greater the chaces will be for destroying elections.
Thanks to two recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings corporations have become people and money has become speech. Politics have ruined the court. You have to be concerned about that being the case when you see a lot of 5 to 4 decisions and the split is usually along party lines, meaning if a Republican justice is appointed by a Republican president, you can pretty well predict what side he'll come down on in politically flavored cases. The same rule applies to Democrats.
It appears these days that we are mindlessly sliding toward becoming a sham democracy. We live in a country where we have freedom of speech. But what good is free speech if it never gets heard and has no effect on what Washington does? Everyone knows the voice of the people isn’t heard because special interest money speaks louder, far louder than words.
We also have the right to vote. But our votes are worthless in a system where the 1% can get away with manipulating election laws, blatantly misinforming voters through domination of the mass media and by booby trapping voter registration laws to disenfranchise the poor, blacks and Hispanics, students, senior citizens, those who are physically disabled and those who don’t own an automobile or live where a mass transit system doesn't exist.
From the moment the Republicans and Tea Partiers retook the House majority, they threw themselves into walking back every legislative gain President Obama made. These gains—like so-called "Obama Care"—weren't just in the best interests of Democrats, but all Americans, even though many of them didn’t understand or care how the new laws would benefit them. Many people chose to remain constant in their ridicule, hate and bigotry toward the president. Shamefully, their complaints aren’t economically or policy based but racist in a way that is indistinguishable from Old South 1950s.
Too many of the phenomenally rich act is if they've misplaced their consciences. Too many people behave that their wealth or station in life has come to them as an incident of birth. Therefore, their good fortune shouldn't require them to provide a thing for the less fortunate. Hell, why should any of us earning over $50,000 a year worry about the very poor? That's why we pay taxes--to provide a safety net for them. If there's a hole in the net, the government is there to fix it.
Since the 2010 midterm elections the mishmash of Republicans, Conservatives, Tea Partiers and Libertarians have stymied every attempt at social and economic reform under the president’s leadership. The would rather see him fail than see America succeed. They made that clear in killing off the American Jobs Act and taking the nation to the brink of an even deeper financial crisis by withholding their assent to the national budget thus causing the country’s credit rating to be downgraded for the first time in our history.
Their actions make this election year look as big as 1776. Without exaggeration, it can be said that if Republicans and Right Wingers prevail, it will be the kill shot for the sweeping middle class democracy that emerged from the post World War II era. There will be no looking forward to 2016 and wresting the nation back from conservatives and the 1% Masters of the Universe. With the power of the vote gone, there will be no mechanism t0 change history. The show will be over, period.
As renown American historian and activist Howard Zinn warned us, ". . . it is up to the citizenry, those outside of power, to engage in permanent combat with the state, short of violent, escalatory revolution, but beyond the gentility of the ballot-box."
Many People Are Wondering: Is Our Brand of Capitalism Going Bad?
As we follow the news and listen to the talking heads these days, it's beginning to look more and more like America is becoming a capitalistic failure, a fast and lose venture turned against its people who feel trapped aboard a dysfunctional and corrupt ship of state captained by political pirates, an immoral, aggrogant self-serving minority that seeks to advance only its special interests. It is a nation that seems to have lost its values and false hope is the only hope left.
If she could, I believe the Statue of Liberty would step down from her post and, standing there in the water, would turn east and begin waving her torch to warn immigrants away from these unfriendly shores.
Last September, when Occupy seemed to spring up from the nooks and crannies of Zuccotti Park, it brought life to the flickering hopes of millions of us that a powerful national uprising was suddenly on its way to taking down the overlords of banking and finance, business and industry, oil and coal, pharmaceuticals and healthcare. Included in our hopes was that this revolt would eradicate lobbyists and special interests from the halls of Congress and throw the empty suits out of elected office everywhere.
Occupy looked like a reversal of fortune for average people, a change of course for the nation, a new chapter in American political history. But it looks to have lost its momentum and is marching in circles. The opportunity to save our democracy is being squandered.
So, Occupy, it’s time to get real, to get up on our feet. We had millions of Americans who came out for us, pulled for us and prayed that we’d deliver the kind of meaningful change the 99% needs if life is ever to be good for us again. We need to re-energize ourselves and the Movement, to join hands, raise our voices and protect our right to vote.
It’s February, so there’s time to get organized, rally the troops from all over the states and get hunkered down and into position to win the presidency again and retake the majority in both houses of Congress.
Start by forgetting about non-productive General Assemblies filled with passionate speeches about jobs, the environment, Medicare, Social Security, rebuilding the infrastructure, etc. Yes, they are all goals we aim to achieve, but if Obama loses and the Republicans and Tea Party take over Congress again, our goals may never be attainable again. Now is the time for a focused, unrelenting push to reinvigorate the American Dream—a time for real action.
UNTIL NOVEMBER THERE’S ONLY ONE BIG ITEM ON OUR AGENDA:
OCCUPY THE VOTE
The Koch brothers, the GOP, the Mega-Corporations, Big Oil, King Coal and the pharmaceutical and medical industries are hammering away to stop millions of Americans —minorities, elderly, college students, naturalized citizens, the ill and homebound, the poor and those without drivers licenses and photo IDs—from voting. There are hundreds of thousands of Democrats, Liberals and Independent voters who not only outnumber the Republicans, they believe in a government that helps all the people, not just the filthy rich. Our job is to get them to the polls on November 6th.
What Occupy needs to be working on:
1. Occupy groups all over the country need to be welded into one giant voter protection machine. They need to organize rapidly and send out their best speakers and organizers to every major college and university. The purpose is to recruit members and coordinate future actions through a national coordinating committee. Simultaneously, at campuses where Occupy doesn’t have a presence, one must be established. An on-going effort must be made to link up with labor unions and other brothers in the spirit of Unity and Freedom who will, in turn, take an active role in Occupy’s pushback against voter suppression.
2. It’s time to put Democrat and Republican office holders on notice that if Occupy perceives them as self-serving, on the payroll of lobbyists or corporations, opposed to plugging tax loopholes and increasing taxes for those earning $1 million or more annually, unwilling to protect the rights to collective bargaining for public and private workers, willing to cave in to cutbacks to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, millions of Occupiers and will vote them out of office irrespective of their party membership. The low hanging, rotting fruit on the trees of both parties must be cut down.
3. Occupy can easily turn itself into a PAC to provide campaign money for Independent candidates as well as Democrats and Republicans, candidates willing to stand with us will be the only ones we help. The Movement can begin now to lay the groundwork for an Independent Third Party by demonstrating to the prospective voters of 2016 that Occupy is a force that will have to be reckoned with not just for today, but up the road as well.
4. A crucial job that Occupiers at local levels must tackle immediately is to provide people assistance and financial aid in obtaining the new photo IDs and voter registration cards they will need. Transportation—volunteers with trucks, busses, SUV’s and cars—should be lined up to transport voters to registration sites and later to the polls on Election Day.
5. Throughout Spring and Summer, activists must be enlisted to join Occupy by walking city neighborhoods to hand out voter information and campaign materials for candidates we support. They should be willing to engage voters in their yards and on their porches to explain the importance of this election and make them understand why their vote counts now more than ever.
6. The upcoming months should be a barrage of direct non-violent action: Loud marches that voice the importance of the campaign issues; gatherings on street corners and in parks to rally voters and educate everyone by putting leaflets filled with factual information in their hands. And to have platforms where candidates can speak to crowds of voters.Issues vital to the 99% cannot be explained too often. Likewise, the 99%’s objectives need to be stated over and over and over.
7. Multiple demonstrations should be scheduled at the campaign offices of every opposition candidate and at their government offices as well. Candle-lit voter vigils, parades to call attention to our favored candidates, specials events of every kind from ice cream socials to picnics. There needs to be on-going people-to-people events, all-American patriotic flavored excitement in the air as often as possible. From Atlantic to Pacific, cities and towns should resound weekly with the message of the 99% and the presence of the Occupy Movement must be visible daily.
The Occupy Movement stirred excitement among tens of millions, its challenge now is to turn to the crucial work of letting those people know the Movement isn't going away, it's rejuvenated and needs them to pull off a big win for all of us in November.
The Koch brothers and the One-Percenters are smug. They think they can call all the shots because they the money to buy this election. Let's show them: The may have a lot of money, but we have the votes.
Anthony P. Mario