Posted 10 years ago on Oct. 25, 2011, 3:39 p.m. EST by ARod1993
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
I've spoken on this many times; I feel like organization is chronically underrated by people who love ideological purity but aren't willing to understand the complexities of implementation. It's quite easy to declare that a system is severely damaged and/or corrupt; what I want to know is what people would propose to do about it and how they would go about implementing it. Simply refusing to participate and/or backing Ron Paul is out of the question; all that does is fully cede power to people who disagree with us. Violent revolution and complete disposal of the existing infrastructure is likewise a fool's remedy; even if you succeed (which is doubtful) what will you put in place as the new system and what kind of infrastructure do you plan to put in place to make sure that it too doesn't come apart?
There are a number of decent progressives in DC; Barney Frank is when you let him be, and Al Franken would definitely fall under that banner (and that's just in the Senate). They'd be harder to find in the House because of the 2010 elections, but they exist. Even if there aren't that many right now 2012 is the perfect opportunity to put them there. There are a number of seats in both the Senate and the House occupied by fairly crusty incumbents that we might have a good shot at beating in the primaries if we as an organization make an effort to do so. Honestly speaking, we need to do something in the political arena, and we pretty much have our work cut out for us. Take the case of Charlie Rangel:
Despite voicing public support for OWS, Charlie Rangel turned around and voted for a free trade agreement which is most likely going to ship even more jobs overseas and runs contrary to the founding principles of the movement. This is despicable, and a fair number of people on here ought to be pretty pissed. Here's my question to those of you who don't want to see this sort of behavior continue: When's the next round of Democratic primaries, then? And which OWS organizers are in Harlem and willing to locate and get behind a challenger for Rangel's seat? This is why we need our own slate of people running for office. If we want to get real change then we're going to need to offer real people willing to run for office and able to win; we can't trust people like Rangel to vote with their constituents and the general election offers us a choice between lip service and outright hostility. If, however, we unseat Rangel in the primaries, then we can probably put our man through the general election with little opposition and we'll have our very first OWS'er in DC. Rangel's also the perfect one to start with; there's little or no danger of a GOP candidate taking the district, but Rangel himself has been publicly called out on the House floor for corruption and I don't think people are going to forget that any time soon.
The thing is, if we try this for Rangel and succeed then it sends a message to the rest of DC that they have to start taking us into account if they want to keep their jobs. The Tea Party did it, the Populists did it, the Green Party does it on occasion, and generally speaking it works. Citizens United allows us to build and fund an OWS superPAC, partially from all that donation money nobody can seem to figure out what to do with, and use it as a war chest that we can spend on our candidates across the country. Now, we'd obviously not start soliciting corporate funding for it because that goes against everything we stand for, but imagine the power that an independently aligned national coalition of small donors would have to influence this country during elections season. We could throw our people (actual OWS'ers with community organization/activism/legal backgrounds or OWS sympathizers in that category) into Democratic and Republican primaries across the country, and even if we only take one or two seats most legislators will think of what happened to the Republican establishment post-Tea Party and will be willing to listen.
Incidentally, this is not about letting ourselves get co-opted by different political parties; in fact, it's quite the opposite. By injecting our people into their primaries (especially if you have a historically uncontested seat that you can generally keep until you decide to retire) we force the incumbents to take positions on the issues that we consider important, particularly corruption and campaign finance/lobbying reforms. It's a win-win for us. If we win we get to call the shots instead of partisan hacks, and even if we lose we will have co-opted the national debate. Who's with me?