On Occupy Bill - please pay attention.
It is hard to write a response to Bill Maher's New Rule segment without first uttering the words "Fuck you." - with love of course as an occupier. Over the years I've found Bill Maher's standup/show to be both a hit and a miss and I like him more often then naught.
From his New Rules
To be considered a real movement, it has to start moving asses off the streets, and into the voting booth. (audience applause)I can't tell you enough how important it is that we get people in the streets. There is a huge debate within Occupy right now over how we translate getting people off the streets and turning that into a means to effect change through voting or if our role is simply to educate people about issues and allow them to make their own choices.
I agree that we need to be in congressional offices every day knocking on doors. Part of how the TeaParty passed their agenda is that they had outside astroturf groups fund teapartiers to be able to stay in Washington and bother the hell out of their reps. Demonstrating in the street can be quite powerful - as long as we have voices - like Bill Maher's championing and showing the world what we are doing. Our protest numbers are marginalized by the MSM and we have a media that is fixated on riot porn and the arrests.
Let's look at at December 5th - 9th where during that time several thousand activists participated in rain to knock on congressional doors. Occupy and SEIU staged a massive four day event called Take back the Capitol to get people more engaged in citizen lobbying. There were elements within Occupy that are against that but I think in the end we have to engage people and enfranchise them to effect change.
Then not even a month later on J17Occupy joined SEIU again in Washington DC and marched on the Supreme Court, the lawn, the Senate , congressional offices, and the White House (where we posted hearts with message to the President) I'm sure you only heard about the smoke bomb that was thrown over the gate.
Occupy's motto is "The only solution is world revolution." OK... but what about setting our sights a little lower, like taking back Wisconsin?
Frankly I'm not sure what Occupy could have done to make a difference in Wisconsin. Let's talk about the lack of support from our national organizations first before we start saying Occupy should have been more involved. Where was President Obama? Where was the DNC support? Competing with SuperPacs and AstroTurf organizations is hard and Occupy can only counter that money by getting people engaged. As far as I'm concerned we had many progressives who have been involved in Occupy participate in the Wisconsin recall elections. It was already a people powered recall election and the problem is that Occupiers tend to look like everyone. We may not have recalled Walker - but we took control away from their senate for a few months until the election. That is huge and all progressives should take pride in that.
Here's a thought. Instead of organizing interstate hootenannies, maybe it's time for Occupy Wall Street to actually participate in the American political process. (audience applause) That means boring stuff, like canvassing neighborhoods, raising money, running candidates for office, manning phone banks, and making a baby with John Edwards.Interstate hootenannies are the types of actions that build movements. Historically we can look at the Million Man March or Gandhi's Salt March as proof that having people march does generate awareness. Albeit this is on a much smaller scale marches and protests gain momentum when people are exposed. How many times have you tried to dispel the stereotype that OWS are only anarchists, or hippies, or the homeless and made the connection that we represent all walks of life.
I may be marching from Philly to NYC on that hooteannie to arrive back at Zucotti on the 4th of July. It is only ONE of hundreds of direct actions that will be happening. You can look for events on occupy.com or the NYCGA website and find information quite easily.
And that's because the Tea Party took it to the next level. They mobilized. They put on a nice shirt and their best teeth... (audience laughter), and they got out there, and they drafted candidates, registered voters, and did all the stuff that when the left does it, it's called "using the methods of Saul Alinsky".Again - I wish we were able to match tea party money but that is not possible in a Citizens United world. The Tea Party was only able to succeed because of the level of funding they got. I have never seen a single tea party action ever in the entire time of the movement that has even come close to marching a single occupy event. Even our small protests generate people of a wide range of ages, cultures, religion, and economic background.
The Occupy movement could do the same thing for the Democrats. In fact, we need Occupy to be our Tea Party. An unwavering bloc that will force things to the left, as relentlessly as a new pair of jeans with a tight inseam.
A solid bloc of far-left intractable Democratic Congressmen, who Obama can point to and say, "You know, I'd love to renew your Bush-era tax cuts, but I have to deal with these crazy motherfuckers." (wild audience applause)
Stop looking at Occupy as an American movement but look at is as a world wide movement. Are you going ignore the demonstrations and the collapse of European austerity driven governments?
You're asking for an Occupy victory? I'm sure none of those people who voted in Europe's elections or the students who protested in Canada over tuition hikes ever attended an Occupy event or read about it.
I wish Dem's or President Obama feared his base and would point at us and saying "I'm sorry but I'd have to deal with these crazy fuckers." Most people in Occupy are leftists and I have no bones about saying that. Yet the Dem establishment does not take Occupy seriously. The panels and no offense to my friend Jesse on Occupy that I have attended have been superficial, hollow, and on a 9th grade discussion level. The Panel on Cooperation - not Co-Option at NetRoots Nation dealt with 93 minutes of Cooperation talk and - 2 minutes on the Co-Option when this is a huge discussion within the movement. We get lip service and when we do put forth solutions they are ignored or marginalized as extreme.
If I have to hear the phrase
"Middle Class"one more time from a politicians mouth then will scream. You talk about the 99% and building Middle class families. I'm sorry - you are just feeding people platitude and bullshit when you talk about the middle class because America is not a middle class nation. We are a working poor and poor nation that is sold the idea that we are a middle nation because people in power keep repeating that zombie lie. The entire time I have not heard the word poor mentioned more then 3 times in all these discussions on economic fairness.
You want us to engage with politics. Have you had George Martinez on your show to talk about his congressional campaign as the first occupy candidate? Have you talked on your panels about his pledge to take only small donations?
Have you heard about BumRushTheVote
that is trying to get occupiers engaged in voting registration, campaigns, and turning out voters to the polls? Oh I'm sorry - you hadn't. I'm sure google is hard to operate before you make sweeping statements.
I understand where you are coming from Bill. I've had my ups and downs with the movement and the debates that we are having. This is a young movement - not even a year old but the message about income inequality is very real. This is a continuation of the civil right movement and the problems we face in the 20th century with Republicans everywhere waging a war against us.
Why don't you spend time highlighting all the people that Occupy has saved from evictions.? Every person that we have been able to keep in their homes is a victory for OWS. OWS does not just march - we protest in front of banks, we have sleep ins, we have sit ins, we have massive demonstrations, and we do all of these things with media people like you Bill - ignoring - or treating with disdain - or sarcasm - or only interviewing the most outrageously dressed person in the crowd - or waiting for someone to be arrested and ignoring the children, old people, and community while focusing on blood and violence.
I've hardly touched on a lot of what Occupy has accomplished but and that there are still people mobilizing and trying to take the movement to civic engagement. The Republicans had 100 years to try and screw up this nation. Give me 50 million dollars and I'll show you how many people we can keep in the streets and influence our elections to get people in office. That's not gonna happen so we have to rely on each other and hope that voices like you Bill - will have an intelligent conversation and not start to sound like A Very Serious Person.
So new rule Bill