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ActivismPolicies & Politics

Occupy Wall Street Should Follow Tea Party's Steps

occupy protester

OK, obviously, not its policy steps, but its strategic steps seem worth emulating. What would those be exactly? Well, after the initiation and rise of the (billionaire-funded) Tea Party, it went from a “grassroots” uprising to a focused electoral movement that created the most anti-science House of Representatives ever elected. It turned frustration with government into electoral wins.

So,… the point is, if the Occupy movement wants to create real, lasting change, it needs to focus its energy on electoral politics, it needs to get some people who get it elected (or more such people). It needs to get Democrats and Republicans who are shills for the super rich out of office by running true public citizens or public representatives, and running them strong.

Our current political system is bought and owned — this is one of the key issues Occupy is about, and is trying to address. But it’s going to be really hard to persuade bought politicians to take money out of politics. So, we need to run and put into office better politicians. Unfortunately, we don’t have billionaires of dollars lying around, like the Tea Partiers have. So, we need a real, continuous, grassroots effort of tens or hundreds of thousands of people to get these people in office. Now is the time!

Of course, there are some honest, serving-the-public members of Congress — Bernie Sanders, Edward Markey, Henry Waxman, and Alan Grayson are some that . But we need a lot more than we currently have.

Following on top of this argument, which I’ve been meaning to push for awhile, a recent opinion piece by Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, on CNN basically argues the same thing. And, beyond drawing the parallels to the Tea Party, Zelizer points out how left-wing activists of the “Age of Aquarius” (1960s) shifted from grassroots activism to political infiltration and systemic change.

Zelier points out the obvious, too — “This step is always difficult from a movement, like Occupy Wall Street, that revolves around a blistering critique of how politics works. There is always the fear that by engaging the political system, a movement will sell out its principles and replicate the experience of their opponents.”

In my opinion, not engaging in the political system that rules the country more is selling out. It’s selling out to an ideology or to fear, rather than stepping it up and changing the system through the avenues available.

Granted, getting money out of politics may be the largest challenge yet, but that should give us more enthusiasm and determination to go forward and make change.

Van Jones, one of the heroes of the green movement, recently “talked of plans for 2,000 candidates to seek public office to represent the 99%,” Zelier reports. “You haven’t seen anything yet,” he told CNN.

Let’s hope so. And more than hoping, LET’S GET INVOLVED!

Occupy/Anonymous protester via shutterstock

 




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