The first two months of Occupy Wall Street were glorious, culminating in an incredible day on #N17. What started as just a hundred people camped in a non-descript square ended up in hundreds of thousands across the country engaged in an unprecedented conversation about inequality. However, OWS has been forced, by action of Bloomberg and the NYPD, to enter its second stage. It no longer has access to Liberty Square in any meaningful way - the park is surrounded by barricades and draconian measures are enforced to prevent organizing out of that space. While plans to "re-occupy space" are being discussed, it is also time for OWS to assess how the second stage in the movement might differ from the first.
It is my opinion that while OWS has been very successful in drawing attention to economic inequality, it has been less successful in drawing attention to political inequality, oligarchy, and corruption. Part of this is that the corporate media and our corporate-bought politicians would prefer to paint the entire movement as "economic frustration". You can hear this point of view, for instance, in President Obama's OWS remarks - they are always about the economic issues, but not about the fundamental systemic corruption that gives rise to those economic issues.
Thus, I believe it is important for the second stage of OWS to point the spotlight on just how corrupt our politics has become. The coexistence of OWS alongside the elections of 2012 will provide the natural venue for this. Of course, discussing elections at OWS always seems to get people nervous - there is a lot of fear of being "co-opted" by Democrats, and some people truly think that electoral politics are broken beyond repair. To address these views, it is my belief that OWS should exist outside of the political process, and should adopt a strategy of highlighting just how undemocratic out politics has become. This position should be able to accomodate both reformers (e.g. get money out of politics types), and those more radical (e.g. direct democracy types).
As a first strategy in this regard, I am launching an affinity group of OWS, entitled Occupy Political Fundraisers. As New Yorkers, we all know the role our city plays in the political process - politicians come to New York solely for the purpose of high-dollar fundraisers, generally with the fat cats of corporate America, and the financial services industry in particularly. We will no longer sit idly by and watch this corruption of our political system take place right before our eyes. In New York, we will demonstrate at and/or peacefully disrupt any and all high-dollar political fundraisers. In the process, we hope to draw attention to the fact that our democratic values are being sold right in front of our eyes. We are non-partisan. We do not advocate for or against any particular candidate, but rather against institutionalized bribery. We will protest the corrupting influence of money on politics regardless of the politician. For example, our first two demonstrations will center around:
Nov. 30 - President Obama fundraiser in Manhattan, Facebook Page
Dec. 14 - Mitt Romney fundraiser in Manhattan
We call upon people around the country to do the same. Many already have, and they have inspired us. We believe that a national conversation on the corruption of our democracy by money is badly needed, and this conversation can only be credibly had if it is brought up in a non-partisan manner.
As you can see, the first action is just a few days away, as President Obama will be attending several fundraisers in New York on Wednesday evening - the first time he has done so since OWS began. This was just announced, and we will be organizing this over the next few days. If you are interested in helping with these actions, either message me, or you will be able to meet me over the next few days at OWS Direct Action, or OWS Political and Electoral Reform. Also, I plan on stopping by Liberty Square this afternoon for some turkey day stuffing.
Happy thanksgiving! Let's take back our country!