Democratic Party

You’re Not Helping

Another sign that the Occupy movement might be losing its way as it's hijacked by libertarians and anarchists.

TPM has learned a group of DC Occupiers plan to hold a demonstration outside a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee high-dollar fundraiser for, among other members, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ).

The event (which comes with a $75,000 PAC sponsorship price; the cheapest ticket is $5,000) will feature speeches from all the top leaders of the House Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and DCCC chair Steve Israel. [...]

On its website, OccupyDC calls the event “elitist” and “indicative of how the Democrats represent a major part of our government’s failure to represent 99% of its citizenry.” This is ironic considering the Democrats inside the closed-to-the-public and closed-to-the-press fundraiser are among the most vocal supporters of the Occupy movement in politics.

Protesting a DCCC fundraiser does nothing to "change the conversation" when those in attendance are already discussing the things you want them to discuss.

Jobs. Taxing the rich and shameless. Financial regulations.

Nancy Pelosi even presided over the most sweeping regulation of Wall Street in decades while she was Speaker of the House, which President Obama later signed into law.

And "elitist?"

Do you think the Democratic Party, or anyone else for that matter, can defeat the Right Wing Noise Machine without fundraising? They will be lucky to out-pace Corporate America's new-found power following the Supreme Court's ruling on Citizens United.

And this idea that a PAC fundraiser means Democrats do not represent the 99 percent is utterly nonsensical. An overwhelming majority of President Obama's re-election funds have come from people like you and I. Individual donors making small donations of between 5 and 50 dollars each. The Obama campaign has already received donations from over 1 million individuals and it's not even 2012 yet.

Furthermore, you won't find a single politician in existence who doesn't schmooze and booze with a who's who list of lobbyists, think-tank presidents, pundits, and CEOs. Who they shoot the shit with after a long day of listening to conservative blowhards explain why we need to outlaw abortion in congress doesn't matter. What matters is their voting record and the legislation they have personally supported or opposed.

Review the record, and you will find the Democratic Party ardently supports, or has passed, legislation that benefits the majority of America.

  • amysee

    I happened by this protest last night. The following is from the explanatory handbills the protesters passed out, titled “$5,000-Per-Plate Campaign Fundraisers Thwart Democracy:”

    “We, the 99%, denounce corporate control of politics. Among other means, corporations amplify their voices through expensive fundraisers where the 1% collude with lawmakers to create policies to further enrich themselves…. we are here because whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or something else, coddling the 1% at the expense of everyone else is wrong….

    “How can politicians regulate Wall Street when they seek their money to win elections?

    “One person, one vote, not one dollar, one vote!”

    I have a sense that this reflects the opinion of a broad swath of non-Beltway-type Americans of all stripes who are disgusted with politics and politicians and cast their votes for the lesser of many evils, if they vote at all. That this protest makes us uncomfortable probably means we shouldn’t be working so hard to dismiss it.

    • jjasonham

      I have to work around some of the very people that OWS are protesting against. Bloomberg, Summers, various Wall St. CEO’s, etc. I have personally heard them speaking about this and they know exactly what’s happening and it isn’t in their favor. They are freaked that protesters will be where they’re appearing and they’ve got the security and exit plans to deal with it.

  • MatherZ

    Whoa whoa whoa. I’m not sure how you get “hijacked by libertarians and anarchists” from the fact that OWS is protesting outside of a Democratic fundraiser.

    Of course the Democrats are a better choice than Republicans. But as you go on to say, “you won’t find a single politician in existence who doesn’t schmooze and booze with a who’s who list of lobbyists, think-tank presidents, pundits, and CEOs”. THAT’S the problem. Should we give Democrats a free ride on completely buying into a corrupt system just because we really, REALLY can’t let the other guys win?
    As much as anyone, I support the idea of incremental change, and the acceptance that Obama becoming President never could mean that things would become perfect immediately. But when the problem is not just the outcomes of the political system (which DO leave much to be desired) but also the methods of the political system, it’s entirely appropriate to hold everyone in power accountable and responsible.

    Come election time, the choice is clear, and I don’t think Occupiers are interested in cutting off their noses to spite their faces – if they were that politically ignorant, they wouldn’t be out in the streets.

    Besides, as the cynic in me is quick to point out, I find it very hard to believe that Occupiers protesting outside of a Democratic fundraiser will strongly affect election outcomes either way. But then, the cynic in me is slowly starting to pipe down a little bit, and it’s because of the Occupy movement.

    • MatherZ

      More to the point, where do the “libertarian and anarchist hijackers” come into this at all?

    • Scopedog

      “…and I don’t think Occupiers are interested in cutting off their noses to spite their faces…”

      Mather….I hope that you turn out to be right. I really do.

      (BTW, your tag wouldn’t have anything to do with MAZINGER Z would it? Just curious.)

  • Guest

    People should be applauded for their idealism, not ridiculed. I’m 61 years old, disabled, and still try to maintain my youthful idealism. Libertarian socialism is a valid, mainstream, political philosophy and should be talked about as much as possible.

    The problem we have had in western society is that we tend to follow false prophets down the garden path. It’s always easier to allow someone else to spin a false reality, than think for ourselves. Our political system has been hijacked from the get go 235 years ago by people who did nothing but game the system for personal gain while they lied big time and scolded those people who questioned their motives. We should always question someone’s motives. The fact is that people in congress, especially those on banking and finance committees who trade company stock on inside information should be kicked out and jailed. But insiders aren’t going to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Instead they will bail out crooks while those same crooks go on and on about the world economy collapsing if they don’t get bailed out. So where does those in congress put their real interests. Not in the national interests.

    • JMAshby

      Political idealism is not something I applaud.

      And libertarian socialism? That’s basically an oxymoron. You may be socially libertarian, but that’s not the same thing as libertarian socialism. Chose your words carefully. The meaning can change drastically depending on how you word it.

      • villemar

        Obviously you haven’t read Ayn Marx.

        • Guest

          I saw your snarky retraction. But obviously you haven’t read……….. anything.

      • Guest

        I do choose my words carefully.

        What do you applaud? Harry Reid giving fat government do nothing jobs to his relatives? Plenty of democratic fat cats have been feeding off the tax payer funded government pig trough long enough. Just as long as the tea party republic fat cats. So don’t lecture to me about meanings and oxymorons.

        You are obviously an oxymoron. And things won’t change until political idealism is unleashed by Occupy Wall Street. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

      • Scopedog

        “Political idealism is not something I applaud.”

        I used to applaud it, but after seeing where it took us (not in the right direction) I steer far away from it.

        “Libertarian socialism is a valid, mainstream, political philosophy and should be talked about as much as possible.”

        Hmmm…valid how? Haven’t we heard this all before about these new, awesome political philosophies that will kick the fraud known as democracy to the curb and lead us into an new age? And haven’t we been aware of the horrific consequences when these supposedly “perfect” philosophies are put into actual practice?

        Libertarian socialism sounds very good on paper. So did Marxism and Communism. When they were put into practice….check Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s China to see the results.

        • Guest

          My point exactly. Isn’t there still a picture of Mao looking down on Tianenman Square in Beijing? what’s up with that? Maybe it isn’t Libertarian Socialism as I see it but China sure is eating our lunch big time. And they are still a one party communist state the last time I checked.

        • jjasonham

          I would agree. I think we should shoot for pragmatic political optimism!

    • villemar

      I’m editing this comment out because I don’t want to come off as needlessly snarky and confrontational. I believe you have the best intentions at heart, and do applaud your idealism, just not sure what you meant in regards to 235 years of this, but maybe I’m reading into it something that isn’t there….especially since you would absolutely remember in your lifetime, a time when civic institutions and government was not despised and hated and mistrusted; or at the very least could act as a legitimate check on corporate excess. Maybe I’m just hagiographizing the pre-Reagan past (although as we know Reagan would have been a Blue Dog Dem by today’s standards).

      • Guest

        Do the math man….. This is the end of 2011. The US began on July 4, 1776. My calculator says that’s………… 235. Almost immediately fat cats and sociopaths saw an opportunity. What did Jefferson and Franklin see? They weren’t fat cats and sociopaths. Thay saw a grand IDEALIZED vision. Now that vision has been turned on its head. Steely Dan calls it Pretzel Logic. Where people do nothing and get fat while those who do the backbreaking work get screwed. Do the math before you do the colors. Blue dog? Yellow dog? Green tea? Who cares? Do the math. Maybe you and Ashby are incapable of that.

  • I have been trying to explain this phenomenon for months. Repudiating and declaring political war indiscriminately doesn’t get you what you want, because there’s no percentage in responding to threats from those who only find new excuses to complain and threaten yet again with each acquiescence. For decision makers, the political case for going to bat politically for a demand is abrogated by the loss of political support that comes with the threat. It’s as though you’re saying to potential opposition on the isse, “Support ______” as that same opposition watches you lose political power because you’re being abandoned by the threateners, many of whom may never have supported you in the first place. Politically, such threats are like showing your hand as you play poker. It doesn’t work. Therefore, political threats are about threatening, NOT about results and they very possibly come from people who intend political damage rather than solutions to problems.

  • jjasonham

    Interesting. I still don’t see this as them losing their way. I view this as growing pains. I’m glad this is all happening right now. Things like this are helping discover what jives within the movement. This is what needs to happen to sharpen the focus of the movement, which we all agree needs to happen. This passage from the New York Magazine article I posted mentioned when Max Berger, an activist/early planner, proposed the use of a huge sign that read “OBAMA Don’t be Wall Street’s Puppet”:

    But Berger’s proposal wasn’t uncontroversial. Quite the contrary. It sparked an agitated backlash, in which a handful of core OWS organizers attacked the idea on three grounds. The first was that it risked alienating African-Americans. “The people we think will be the heart and soul of this movement have yet to join it, even though you see them in Sunset Park and you see them in Harlem,” says Husain. “They identify with the president. So going after him isn’t the smartest move.”

    The second was that by focusing on Obama, the march moved away from a systemic critique to a personal one, and thus let other responsible parties slide. “You need a message around Obama that doesn’t let Boehner off the hook,” says Premo. “All government is beholden to the same masters.” And the third was that by assailing a specific policy, the march could be perceived as carrying an implicit demand.

    The more grounded prime movers, though, express a more balanced view. “I don’t think it’s possible to co-opt this thing,” says Marom. “For example, Howard Dean is sending around fucking yard posters with ‘We Are the 99%, Occupy Wall Street’ on them, but we don’t do anything because of it.” As for the institutional left, he goes on, “if you want to have a real movement, you need labor and people who have ties to political institutions. What are we gonna be, just a thousand college kids?

    Sorry for the long quote. These discussions are happening at OWS, so I can imagine it may take a bit of time to spread. Hopefully, they’re figuring it all out. I’m glad they’re starting now. I predict that over the winter is when these questions will be answered, and tactics are solidified, but nothing is guaranteed. It’s been 2 months since all of this started. I’m choosing to wait to worry until at least February. 🙂

    • MrDHalen

      Thanks for the link Jason.

      The article does give us a better understanding of the movement’s inner workings. I really liked one of the comments to the article where someone suggested the OWS’s started doing more community based projects like 5 & 10K runs, picnics, concerts, etc. to spread the 99% message to more people and engage them directly.

      Personally, I’d love to see them driving two messages to the American people.

      1. Restore “Glass-Steagall Act”.

      2. Federally funded and capped campaigns, plus better lobbying restrictions.

    • I get what you’re saying, jason, but to go after the people who support your movement and actually do the work that you expect of them, is counter productive at best.
      If these people cost Democrats the election next year………..

      They don’t have the luxury of time to “evolve”. This country is at a critical point, and they need to grow up now.

      Adding………making no demands is just foolish.

      • jjasonham

        Quite frankly, I don’t think that OccupyDC protesting a fundraiser is “going after” the people that supports them. That’s just dramatic. Are their feelings going to be hurt and not support OWS anymore? It’s very different than Hamsher or Greenwald going after Obama. I’m not sure how many more protests they’ll have like this one, but fundraisers ARE a big part of what they’re standing against. People talk about how vague they are, but then get pissed when they’re on topic: Money in Politics. Economic Inequality is another. They’re not going to cost Democrats the election next year, calm down.

        OWS is not a group of saviors. I say they can take every bit of time they need. It’s worth it. You obviously have an idea of exactly what they should be doing. There are some basic shared characteristics of successful movements, but they have to take their own shape for the time they’re in…and OWS has been doing just that. Making no demands at this point isn’t foolish. That observation is extremely shortsighted. A baby that doesn’t speak can only cry. Have you ever seen when the parent tries everything to meet that baby’s demands until it is met. That baby has needs….YOU figure it out. Either way, the baby gets it. If OWS creates enough pressure from the onset to make enough authorities uncomfortable, that’s when things start moving. Why not try it that way this time, huh? What else in the past 30 years has caught like wildfire like this has. It’s a very powerful position to be in, honestly. Prove you can get the attention of many different groups of people and authorities. Force the hand of those trying to appease you. The leaders throw something at us, and we’ll tell you if it works or not. THAT’s when the specific demands come in.

        One quote from an article I’ll cite:

        “We are our demands. This #ows movement is about empowering communities to form their own general assemblies, to fight back against the tyranny of the 1%. Our collective struggles cannot be co-opted,” proclaims the Occupy Wall Street homepage in a statement disavowing the Demands Working Group. As one New York occupier explains, “The notion of demands connotes disempowerment, or hostage-taking. That’s not what we’re about. We’re about empowerment. The government shouldn’t need us to make ‘demands,’ because it should be of us.

        Please tell me how you see this playing out in your scenario. I’m just not seeing why I should be upset or terrified. And why are we always talking about what ISN’T being done!

        • Quite frankly, I don’t think that OccupyDC protesting a fundraiser is “going after” the people that supports them. That’s just dramatic. Are their feelings going to be hurt and not support OWS anymore? It’s very different than Hamsher or Greenwald going after Obama. I’m not sure how many more protests they’ll have like this one, but fundraisers ARE a big part of what they’re standing against. People talk about how vague they are, but then get pissed when they’re on topic: Money in Politics. Economic Inequality is another.

          Protesting a fundraiser by Democrats rather than Republicans is purely stupid and is “going after the people that support them”, whether or not you agree, and whether or not you think it’s “just dramatic”, that is the perception.

          And no, their “feelings won’t be hurt”, but yes, if they decide that OWS is taking a wrong turn, they will stop supporting them, at least to a degree, simply by ignoring them/their existence.

          Additionally, they (OWS) are capable of turning opinion against those they protest against, and yes, Jason, that could conceivably cost us the 2012 elections whether or not you see it that way. Trust me, it can.

          “fundraisers ARE a big part of what they’re standing against”

          Which is a dubious position unless they are standing FOR public financing of elections, and the end of corporate money in politics, and the Democratic Party is all for both of those things, so why protest fundraisers by Democrats who have to try to keep up with fundraising by Republicans? Until the laws are changed, there is NO choice but to fundraise in the traditional manner. Period.

          OWS is not a group of saviors. I say they can take every bit of time they need. It’s worth it.

          Indeed, this is true. They are free to take all the time they need or want. BUT, OWS is in a unique position, Jason.As a force for good, they are needed now.
          Time is a luxury we can’t afford.

          • jjasonham

            They’re protesting everyone’s fundraisers, and that’s how it should be. It’s more like constructive criticism…not in the same vein as Hamsher and Greenwald. It isn’t a partisan issue, and it is addressing a flaw in our system. They’re FOR money out of politics, which has to be FOR public financing. They don’t seem like the purist type to me, but more “fair and balanced” simply because of the scope of people in their midst. Those articles I posted attest to that. Those same articles help me deduce they’re not going to cause anyone’s perception to turn against liberals. I would beware more of “purist” negative perception influence more than OWS. And how fast is fast enough? They have a sense of urgency just like we do…which is why they are where they are. I think they’re doing just fine.

    • Scopedog

      Hmmm….good post, Jason….will check the link out. Thanks.

      • jjasonham

        Awesome. Just trying to disseminate some info to round out our perspective.

  • Here’s some ideas for keeping things on track:

  • roxsteady

    I’m with you Bob! These people are either idiots or they’re ignorant of which side of Congress votes for legislation that benefits them. From the beginning they stated that they didn’t see themselves as a movement to be co opted by either party. While the Dems embraced their ideology, Republicans slammed them. Their 15 minutes appear to be approaching. They also didn’t want to be compared to the Tea Party. I don’t blame them but, their proving very quickly that they’re not as savy as the baggers who used their anger to organize and vote in a slew of wingnut Congressmen and women to push their values. What are they doing? Starting to stretch the paitence of the American people. Shit or get off the pot! And stop trying to trash the very people who agree with you and could help you if you put voting power behind your movement. Otherwise you’re just taking up space!

  • missliberties

    Let’s protest the protesters. Pragmatists unite.

    This is what they did at the Democratic convention in 1968. They threw temper fits, were violent and rude, got arrested, smacked the police and basically destroyed Hubert Humphrey’s chances of winning.

    These mofo’s better not do this again.

    • villemar

      But voting for Pigasus and voting for Nader worked so well in 1968 and 2000 respectively, why shouldn’t we all write in Baby Jesus Manning in 2012? What could possibly go wrong?

    • Scopedog

      “These mofo’s better not do this again.”

      Well…they did it again in 1980, in 2000, and in 2010. You would think that they would have at least gotten the hint that it doesn’t work and ends up putting the wrong guys in power, but….

      • missliberties

        I am really angry about this. Furious.

        We saw this play out in the recent purge at dK. Why should anarchists dictate who leads our country?

        They need to be shamed out of existence.

  • missliberties


    Barney Frank stated that the people hire these folks. He is tired of being subject to the hysterics of people who want to blame him for the worlds ills, when they don’t even bother to vote.

    He sounds disgusted.

    • Scopedog

      He SHOULD be disgusted. Hell, I’ve been disgusted since 1999-2000 (must account for my grey hairs….).

  • Well said, Ashby.

    This kind of off-the-wall stuff is exactly what I have been afraid of, and it is also what will destroy the movement.

  • I don’t understand purists (including fmr. Sen. Feingold) who think the Democrats can unilaterally disarm on Campaign Finance and still manage to win elections. It’s just impossible.

    • Guest

      Feingold is following Nader down the garden path. At the end of that path is corporatist fascism, as multinational energy and transportation coroporations turn our political system upside down.

    • Scopedog

      What you said reminded me of a line from Verhoven’s STARSHIP TROOPERS adaptation, something along the lines of, “when you vote, you exercise force, you exercise power.”

      The big problem is that the only sure-fire way to affect change is to get out there and cast a vote. And the purists have rejected this since the late 1970s. The result has been the GOP made policies that have led to the crappy state of things.

      • missliberties

        That’s what Barney Frank said. He is sick of being held hostage by purists that don’t vote, and do nothing but complain.

  • nellcote

    They’re so worried about liberals “co-opting the movement” that they neglect the Paultards and other libeterians in their midst. Or maybe that was the goal after all.

    • Scopedog

      Problem is that (at least to me) the movement has already been co-opted by the likes of Moore, Hamsher, Greenwald et al. And you’re right–the Paultards do not help in any way, at least in my view.