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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!

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'll be inside, so I won't be joining you... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TFinSF

    I WILL be raising money to elect Democratic candidates who want to raise my taxes, protect entitlements and preserve civil rights for Gays and Women.  There is a difference between Democrats and Republicans, even if Occupy people refuse to recognize it.

    •  Good for you, enjoy your $35,800 a plate dinner (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chi

      Meanwhile we will protest exactly what is going on in there - our democracy for sale.

      I never suggested there was no difference between Democrats and Republicans.  However the corruption of the Democratic party makes it obvious that we need non-partisan activism to complement partisan activity in order to hold the Democrats accountable.

      •  Publicly-financed campaigns would be great... (0+ / 0-)

        ...but until we have them, it's also great that there are Limousine Liberals who can provide support and put in a good word for the progressive policies we want.

        •  I partially agree, we have to work within the (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          judyms9

          current system, no doubt.  That doesn't preclude OWS from advocating for systemic change.  Obviously advocates for campaign finance reform cannot wait on the Democratic party to push for real change.

          However I would take exception to your characterization of the attendees as "limousine liberals".  That implies that high-dollar donors are benevolent progressives, and while there certainly are some, most high-dollar political fundraising is straight up influence-peddling, and in NYC a great deal of that is to the financial services industry.  This is the exact thing that OWS is supposed to be protesting, and the movement would be incredibly hypocritical not to protest at Obama fundraisers.  

          However the protests should not be mistaken as anti-Obama.  Hate the game, not the player...

          •  I wonder if you positioned occupiers to collect (0+ / 0-)

            alms for the homeless if the party donors would drop a few quarters in their cups or would both parties breeze on by offering only a look of disdain.  Would love to be surprised on this one.  If funds are collected they can then be donated to the nearest shelter.

  •  The abolitionist position (0+ / 0-)

    is that special interest money be taken out of politics. The smaller fundraisers should present the opportunity to elicit the pledge from Congressional candidates to sponsor "money out of politics" legislation in return for your support.

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