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Forum Post: Democrats Are Co-Opting the Occupy Movement

Posted 9 years ago on Dec. 8, 2011, 8:55 a.m. EST by TedRall (52) from New York, NY
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

MoveOn Co-opts OWS Rhetoric, Dilutes Its Message

If Democrats were doing their jobs, there wouldn't be an Occupy movement.

The last 40 years has left liberals and progressives without a party and working people without an advocate. The party of FDR, JFK and LBJ abandoned its principles, embracing and voting along with Reagan and two Bushes. Clinton's biggest accomplishments, NAFTA and welfare reform, were GOP platform planks. These New Democrats were indistinguishable from Republicans, waging optional wars, exporting jobs overseas and coddling corrupt CEOs while the rest of us-disconnected from power, our needs repeatedly ignored-sat and watched in silent rage.

Barack Obama is merely the latest of these phony Democrats. He's the most recent in a line of corporate stooges going back to Jimmy Carter.

The Occupiers revolted under Obama's watch for two reasons. The gap between the promise of his soaring rhetoric and the basic indecency of his cold-blooded disregard for the poor and unemployed was too awful to ignore. Moreover, the post-2008 economic collapse pushed a dam of insults and pain and anger that had built up over years past its breaking point.

Haphazard and disorganized and ad hoc, the Occupy movement is an imperfect, spontaneous response that fills a yawning demand gap in the American marketplace of ideas. For the first time since 1972, the spectrum of Left from liberalism to progressivism to socialism to communism to left anarchism has an audience (if not much of an organization).

Now the very same Democrats who killed liberalism and blocked leftists from candidacies, appointments, even the slightest participation in discussion-are trying to co-opt the Occupy movement.

MoveOn.org, which began as a plea for the U.S. to "move on" during Bill Clinton's impeachment for perjury, claims to be an independent, progressive activist group. It's really a shill for center-right Democratic politicians like Obama, whom MoveOn endorsed in the 2008 primaries against Hillary Clinton, who was running to Obama's left.

All decision-making within the Occupations is consensus-based. Nothing gets approved or done before it has been exhaustedly debated; actions must be approved by 90 to 100% of Occupiers at General Assemblies. It can be arduous.

Without respect for Occupy's process, MoveOn brazenly stole the movement's best-known meme for its November 17th "We Are The 99%" event. And no one said boo.

Some Occupier friends were flattered.

Idiots.

Why didn't MoveOn ask permission from the Occupy movement? Because they wouldn't have gotten it. "We're just days from the Super Committee's deadline to propose more cuts for the 99% or increased taxes for the 1%," reads MoveOn's ersatz Occupy "event."

"So come out and help increase the pressure on Congress to tax Wall Street to create millions of jobs."

Um, no. Lobbying Congress directly contradicts a fundamental tenet of the movement that began with Occupy Wall Street. Occupy doesn't lobby. Occupy doesn't endorse either of the corporate political parties. Occupy doesn't care about this bill or that amendment. Occupy does not participate in stupid elections in which both candidates work for the 1%. Occupy exists in order to figure out how to get rid of the existing system and what should replace it.

What MoveOn did was shameful. They ought to apologize. Donating a year or two's worth of their contributions to the Occupations would be small penance. Given how little MoveOn has accomplished since its founding, Occupy would likely make better use of the cash.

On December 7th it was the turn of another Democratic "Astroturf" organization, the "American Dream Movement," to lift the Occupy movement's radical rhetoric to promote a very different, milquetoast agenda.

The American Dream Movement was co-founded in June 2011 by former Obama political advisor Van Jones and-turning up like a bad penny!-MoveOn.org.

A written statement for the ADM's "Take Back the Capitol" threatened to "make Wall Street pay" for enriching the richest 1% and to "track down those responsible for crashing the economy and causing millions of 99%-ers to lose their jobs and homes-while failing to pay their fair share of taxes."

Sounds like Occupy. Which is great.

Somewhat less than awesome is the content of the "Take Back the Capitol": begging Congressmen who ought to awaiting trial for corruption and treason for a few crumbs off the corporate table.

Duh.

What part of "we hate you" do these ACM fools not get?

Robert Townsend, an unemployed 48-year-old man from Milwaukee, managed to meet his Congressman, Republican Thomas Petri. "We asked him if he would vote for the jobs bill. He was evasive on that. And I asked him, 'Tell me something positive that you're doing for Wisconsin that will put us back to work.' He mentioned something in Oshkosh, but that's mostly for military people. He really didn't have much of an answer. It's like he had no commitment to addressing this problem."

Double duh.

If Congress were responsive, if Democrats or Republicans cared about us or our needs, if Obama and his colleagues spent a tenth as much time and money on the unemployed as they do golfing and bombing and invading and shoveling trillions of dollars at Wall Street bankers, we wouldn't need an Occupy movement.

But we won't have one for long. Not if Occupy lets itself get Occupied by MoveOn and the Democrats.

(Ted Rall is the author of "The Anti-American Manifesto." His website is tedrall.com.)

17 Comments

17 Comments


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[-] 2 points by fucorporatemedia (451) 9 years ago

The first step is to get rid of the corrupt bastards in Congress.

We can use the system we have, right now, to throw all of the corrupt Congressional members in prison by demanding they are held accountable for insider trading.

The media goes on and on about how it is perfectly legal. The truth is, insider trading is just as illegal for Congress, there is no 'exemption'. Not only is it illegal, they have already been caught and admitted it under the guise it is legal. This is the way to thrown every one of them out of OUR CONGRESS and start over.

We can then have a new vote, paper ballots, hand counted and results posted at the precinct level.

This can be accomplished when the movement surrounds the TV stations with continual demands that they cover the truth, followed by real threats that we are working on having them thrown off of the air because they do not serve the public interests. The media is a huge part of the problem, I do not understand why Occupy is not holding them accountable? These are our public airwaves, and if we put together a case that they are not serving the public interest, we can have their license revoked. Fox studies have shown that viewers are less informed than if they watched no TV at all, proving they are not serving the public interest. Of course the rest are just as bad. From promoting the murder of millions of people, to lying about the cause of our deficit now...they are all enabling corruption and need to be held accountable.

Then we start confiscating the ill gotten gains...the money Congressional members stole through insider trading(and their retirement, money from lobbyists), the money the bankers stole through bailouts, the money the war profiteers pilfered etc.

[-] 2 points by JesseHeffran (3903) 9 years ago

As long as they ARE not blue dogs, I could care less.

[-] 2 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 9 years ago

Yeah-ya. Just what we want to embrace - anything that can be spun as anti-American.

If we are going to be out in the streets, engaging in civil disobedience, we are naturally engaged in a messy process.

If we want to attract Americans to our way of thinking, it had probably better be a pro-American message. Anti-Americanism will not sell to Joe Citizen.

It won't sell to me either.

One obvious fallacy from above:

MoveOn.org, which began as a plea for the U.S. to "move on" during Bill Clinton's impeachment for perjury, claims to be an independent, progressive activist group. It's really a shill for center-right Democratic politicians like Obama, whom MoveOn endorsed in the 2008 primaries against Hillary Clinton, who was running to Obama's left.

Bash one Clinton, and then bash Obama with the other?

WTF?

Whatever.

I say the dems have let us down. I say if they want to co-opt us - let them. Let them be surprised as we gradually turn the tables and so co-opt them.

[-] 1 points by JadedCitizen (4277) 9 years ago

Anti-Americanism will not sell to Jaded Citizen either ;)

[-] 1 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 9 years ago

I think I'll call you JadedJoe from now on.

; D

[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (17435) 9 years ago

I could sit here and say that the Tea Party and the Paulites (and god knows who else) are trying to coopt OWS. They are. The Republicans have no intention of working on unemployment until Obama is ousted. Then there is that whole shpiel of don't vote at all, which of course will allow a Republican to dance right in.

I wish that people spent more time on the actual issues then worrying about who is coopting and economic theory. At that point, it is almost as if it is redirecting from the real issues at stake. My 2 cents that was unasked for. They say that nothing is free.

[-] 3 points by divineright (664) 9 years ago

I agree. Keep the focus on the core issues. I think attempts to latch on this movement are inherent given the support it has already drawn.

[-] 2 points by FrogWithWings (1367) 9 years ago

You could say that, however, Ron PauI's message and attempt to reclaim our organic Constitution, along with it's Rule of Law, has been consistent and true longer than many OWS'ers have been alive.

Coopt them? Not hardly, at least respect his candid statements about those in this movement that he honors and respects, as well as for those whose stated demands he has absolute disdain.

The drawn lines are clear. This seldom ever happens with our nation's vote pandering candidates for any office.

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (8708) 9 years ago

Absolutely, all this coopting talk is nothing but divissiveness. It reminds me of Monty Python's "Life Of Brian," when all the groups rebelling against the Romans are more interested in infighting than uniting against their common enemy. This stuff is just all ego; it is counter-productive and ludicrous.

[-] 2 points by ARod1993 (2420) 9 years ago

Here's the thing; you're quite right that the Democrats have been sleeping on the job for the past thirty years and that a lot of their rhetoric about Wall Street has not materialized into concrete action, and I'm disappointed that I'm not seeing more action. What I am seeing from them, however, is an attempt to build an independent small-donor base that makes them less and less reliant on Wall Street money, and that's a definite step forward.

"Occupy doesn't lobby. Occupy doesn't endorse either of the corporate political parties. Occupy doesn't care about this bill or that amendment. Occupy does not participate in stupid elections in which both candidates work for the 1%. Occupy exists in order to figure out how to get rid of the existing system and what should replace it." Er, no. As much as we don't like the system we have now and as unavailable as its tools are to the poor, we should be using those tools for all they're worth because as things stand right now those tools work.

Honestly, we should care a great deal about elections, because they give us a chance to restore the Democratic Party to what it once was by putting old-fashioned liberals like Elizabeth Warren in the primaries and backing them with everything we've got. We should also care a great deal about lobbying Congress because if we can get even one congressman as cowed by us as the Republicans are by the Tea Party or as deep in our pockets as the Republicans are in the pockets of corporations and the wealthy we'd then have one guy who pretty much does what we tell him and a bunch of other guys who fear losing their seats enough that they'd be willing to work with us on policy issues.

[-] 1 points by fucorporatemedia (451) 9 years ago

The truth is, the entire Congress is corrupt, it is not just a few bad apples. Our fake elections are what got us here. No amount of small donations will buy their souls back to where they work for the American people. Not.going.to.happen. We need to throw them all out and start over.

If you want to put your faith in elections, we must demand paper ballots,hand counted and posted at the precinct level.

But I do agree that our system has tools we can use right now, like prosecuting Congress for insider trading. If the SEC won't prosecute, then we start protesting them. We have to go to the channels of Democracy and point out where they are blocked and demand accountability.

[-] 1 points by HunnyB (1) 9 years ago

Sigh. There is a lot of truth in your article, and honestly in a lot of ways I am more radical than you seem to be, and yet I couldn't call myself a liberal though I find them much more compassionate. (I don't call myself a conservative either.. not by a long shot.) However, while co opting is not something that should "be allowed" from the outside, no one of our voices should be trying to define that of everyone else. I agree with the person who said we should remain focused on our goals. If we remain steadfast in what unites us, even if other sources try to use our flag for their own agenda, they will be ignored and drowned out. I understand there are incredibly ignorant people who will see 99% being misrepresented and say, "SEEEE? I TOLD ya it was _!!!1!!" but we have to deal with that kind of thing no matter what.. remaining focused together in spite of it and not worry ourselves with attacking rather than educating would be more productive. And no, that is not a surrender to moveon or anyone else. I've seen many of their attempts and their petitions to "join occupy!" and so on and merely ignore it. The only real way to prevent them is not to be distracted by them and correct misinfo clearly and without emotion. Yes... I know that is difficult.

[-] 1 points by AEWMedia (13) from Reedsport, OR 9 years ago

I don't know if this is co-opting as much as it's "riding coat tails" or trying to be "cool by association." MoveOn saw that they couldn't take control, so they're trying to conflate themselves with OWS. It's going to happen and the best thing to do about it, in just my opinion, is to simply make it clear that they are NOT any "official" part of the movement, but a separate and distinct entity of their own. Their interests may occasionally overlap with ours, but it's important to make sure that it's clear that they aren't us.

[-] 1 points by aahpat (1407) 9 years ago

Many of your historical insights are very lucid and accurate.

You anti democracy and anti American ranting is counter-productive to solving real problems of real people in reality.

[-] 0 points by gosso920 (-24) 9 years ago

Without respect for Occupy's process, MoveOn brazenly stole the movement's best-known meme for its November 17th "We Are The 99%" event. And no one said boo.

So, that means there was consensus, no?

[-] 0 points by Halim (135) 9 years ago

We need to keep this up on the forum. This is true, I was so pissed when I saw this "We are the 99%" event in DC. This is a complete attempt to co-opt the movement!

[-] -1 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

I don't give a F<>K who this 'Ted Rall' character thinx he is (& I've come across him before on http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/ ) but in OWS terms, the above is a de facto Troll Post !

Demoblicans = Republicrats !!

3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th AND 7th Party Time In The Senate + An All Independent House Of Representatives !!!

NO ! To demoCRAZY deMOCKERYcy and YES!! to True and Participatory Democracy, hic et ubique ...

"veritas vos liberabit", et ..

pax et lux .