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October 2011, Week 4

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Sat, 22 Oct 2011 14:44:13 -0400
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Some Unsolicited Advice to the Democratic Party: Cave
to Occupy Wall Street Movement

By: J.A. Myerson
Truthout | Op-Ed
October 22, 2011

http://www.truth-out.org/some-unsolicited-advice-democratic-party/1319216084

It's very en vogue at the moment to offer advice to
Occupy Wall Street. This advice takes all forms - as
the song goes, some kind of help is the kind of help
that help is all about [3], and some kind of help is
the kind of help we all could do without [4]- but I, as
a Wall Street occupier, feel as though I ought to do
some advising of my own:

Dear Democratic Party,

Cave into pressure from us.

Do it. Go whole hog with it. Now is your moment. You
have never had the type of political cover you have
now, and you never will again. Stick a big middle
finger up in the direction of Wall Street, fire your
revolving-door-begotten staffers, declare yourself now
and forever the party of working people, and be done
with it.

It wasn't until the Reagan era that the Democrats
decided to delve into the murky swamps of extreme
corporatism, a move designed to yield its eventual
result: the attainment of fundraising parity with the
GOP. Is it safe to assume that a lot of Democrats, a
good number of whom are probably quite progressive at
heart, wish they didn't have to raise funds from Wall
Street and would relish the opportunity presented by
moving money out of politics? One has to raise a lot of
money to be competitive, and the first order of
business ought to be ensuring that the rules of
elections do not incentivize selling out. But in the
meantime, ride our wave, Democrats.

You will be seen as hypocritical, and this assertion
will be just. After all, you spent the first few years
of this global economic crisis letting Wall Street
sweethearts do whatever they felt like doing with the
American economy. Sweethearts like Tim Geithner, whom
bankers call "our man in Washington." [5] Sweethearts
like Larry Summers, whose major career achievement is
deregulating the derivatives market in the 1990s [6].
Sweethearts like Chris Dodd [7], whose top three
lifetime contributors were, in ascending order, the
American Bankers Association, JP Morgan Chase and Bank
of America, before he retired. Sweethearts like Barney
Frank, whose top staffer, Michael Paese, cashed out [8]
after writing the "financial regulation reform" bill by
becoming director of governmental affairs at Goldman
Sachs.

But hypocrisy is not as bad as depravity, and that is
where things stand now. It is also better than abject
servility - who but a party of masochists would
continue groveling before Wall Street, which has
abandoned you? President Obama, who, in 2004, took in
more than ten times from Goldman Sachs what President
Bush had taken in from Enron, [10] is hemorrhaging
banker support [11]to Mitt Romney anyway - corrupt
financial bigwigs are reportedly seething with fury
[12]at the Democrats who've had nice things to say
about Occupy Wall Street. They're not supporting you,
Democrats, so you're not getting anything out of
supporting them. Support us, instead.

Look: President Johnson did not run on the Voting
Rights and Civil Rights Acts. The people marching from
Selma to Montgomery and their brothers and sisters
rising up everywhere - and often taking severe beatings
for it - are the ones that forced Johnson's hand. As
the president dedicates a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. and Jesse Jackson helps save Occupy Wall
Street's medical tent [13]from police usurpation, our
minds turn to the civil rights movement and the march
on Washington in 1963. The speech we must remember from
that occasion is not the reverend's dream, but the
angry young man's censored admonition. John Lewis, now
a Democratic Congressman who wholeheartedly supports
[14]Occupy Wall Street, was then the youngest speaker
on the slate - the same age as many of us at Liberty
Plaza Park. His speech [15]included this:

    To those who have said, "Be patient and wait," we
    must say that "patience" is a dirty and nasty word.
    We cannot be patient, we do not want to be free
    gradually. We want our freedom, and we want it now.
    We cannot depend on any political party, for both
    the Democrats and the Republicans have betrayed the
    basic principles of the Declaration of
    Independence.

So, whose side will you be on, Democrats? There is a
lot of concern at Liberty Plaza that you (and your de
facto activist wing, MoveOn) are trying to co-opt our
movement, notably raising funds for yourselves by
dropping our name. This is a fool's errand - we are, in
principle, not co-optable. Instead, acquiesce to us.
Take a look at all the advice [16] we're getting about
what sorts of legislation [17]to demand, and you demand
them instead. After all, you're the ones whose job it
is to make policy, not us. Our job is to make you make
policy by creating a crisis. Well, here's the crisis.
What are you going to do about it?

You can lose - and if you stick by Wall Street, you
will lose really, really badly - or you can take the
best shot you've got. Expel Bill Daley [18] and Gene
Sperling [19]and the rest of them, push for radical
change, regard the 1 percent with contempt, and stand
with us. There is no shame in caving to popular social
movements - that is called "democracy." There is only
shame in caving to the will of the tiny minority whose
job it is abuse and exploit everyone else.

Are you at least tempted?

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