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In response to my controversial blog at Daily Kos and a personal phone call, Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West have now invited me on their program to discuss the issue of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the upcoming US presidential election.

I want to thank Dr. West for agreeing to debate this issue with me.

The controversy surrounds my insistence that I will withhold my vote for President Barack Obama, even though I previously served as a delegate for him during the last election.

Dr. West, on the other hand, apparently endorses Obama despite his many outspoken criticisms of the administration's policies.

I have maintained that one of the great strengths of the Occupy Wall Street movement has been it's ability to avoid being co-opted by any particular special interest group or political party. Although some elected officials in the Democratic Party have expressed public support for the occupiers cause, many of these same politicians have also ordered the arrest of protesters and have allowed their civil rights to be violated by law enforcement authorities. The photos from Moscow showing police rounding up demonstrators look very familiar to OWS participants in NYC, Oakland and Seattle...

Given that the national electoral system has been largely undermined and broken by the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision, many participants in the occupy movement feel that there is no place for them in politics. The movement has been an organic expression of their mistrust of the corporate government state from the very beginning. Instead of supporting any particular candidate or party for office, OWS working groups all over the country have been organizing locally. You will find them staging sit-ins outside the mayor's office, protesting in front of the state capitol and coordinating boycotts outside of Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

The many predictions of a certain demise for the occupy movement have proven to be "greatly exaggerated". The activists are committed to taking on important economic and political issues directly by organizing public demonstrations. Without pressure from the outside, even populist public officials are bound to go along with the power elite in Washington, DC.

If the Democrats want some support from the national occupy movement, they will have to prove that they are with the ninety-nine percent! So far, that is not an easily won case. To the contrary, it is more likely that on a national scale, Democratic candidates will receive just as much criticism from the activists as the Republicans. They are both accused of being two branches of the same corporate controlled political party - The "Demopublican Republicrats"...

I am aware that most Democrats don't like to hear this kind of criticism. They prefer to accuse the occupiers of being incompetent and unrealistic - which is a very cynical point of view. The Democrats usually rely on people's fear of the Republicans in order to secure votes from progressive populists. These follks are seen as a captive audience with no other choice but to vote for the "lesser of two evils". This is an arrogant attitude, and one that is also reserved for the Greens and Ralph Nader. Instead of opening their arms and actually creating the inclusiveness that all Democratic candidates proudly proclaim, they simply insult and ignore liberals and progressives who are not part of the regular party establishment.

I am not saying that I want Romney or Santorum as our president! Democrats who oppose my view often jump to that premature conclusion.

What I am saying is that as a voter, I cannot in good conscience pledge my vote for Obama at the present time. I believe it would be a mistake to give in to the Democrats and blindly support their candidate. My first allegiance is with the Occupy Wall Street movement, not the Democratic Party.

There is a lot of time left until the November elections. There should be plenty of time for debate and disagreement in a healthy democratic society. Whether you agree with me or not, I doubt it is now time to "circle the wagons"  - especially since the latest polls show Obama doing quite well against Romney...

I know that my "Open Letter To Dr. Cornel West" has sparked a heated debate and I welcome that.

I look forward to discussing this issue with Dr. West on the air!

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Originally posted to Mark Taylor-Canfield on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 09:57 PM PST.

Also republished by Occupy Seattle.

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