Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
The headline is one for a March 10 article by Josh Harkinson at Mother Jones, subtitled, Meet the progressive insurgents who are riding a wave of energy from the Occupy Wall Street movement.
“Occupy” is in quotes because there isn’t an Occupy party, or as far as I can tell, official endorsement of any of these candidates. Each apparently does have some kind of connection with OWS, some from participation, others by way of positions supported by the movement. Movements don’t have to organize for electoral politics in order to have an influence.
Maybe that’s a part of Harkinson’s point. But – especially with his accompanying piece about one of the ten, Ilya Sheyman (below) – concerns about co-opting are raised again. I’m not the only one with questions. For example, see lambert at Corrente, “MoveOn weasel and Obama lifer Ilya Sheyman tries to hijack Occupy brand in Illinois Tenth District House run.”
A bit more about that later, but first, from Harkinson:
Unlike the tea party, the Occupy movement hasn’t involved itself much in elections. But that hasn’t stopped a slew of progressives and political outsiders from capitalizing on the movement’s energy. Here’s a rundown of 10 electable House and Senate hopefuls who, one way or another, have made Occupy part of their campaigns … .
Hakeem Jeffries (New York): Running for NY’s Tenth Congressional District. He’s addressed Occupy rallies. “Prospects: Fair.”
Lori Saldaña (California): “joined a rally organized by Occupy the Courts in protest of Supreme Court rulings that give corporations the rights of people. Prospects: Good.”
Alan Grayson (Florida): “Nobody running for Congress has done more to side with Occupy Wall Street … . Prospects: Excellent. …
Norman Solomon (California): “… running to fill an … open congressional seat that includes ultra-liberal Marin County … . He has (made) … the movement a central focus of his campaign. Prospects: Fair to Good.”
Eric Griego (New Mexico): “One of the most progressive members of the state senate, Griego gave a speech at Occupy Santa Fe … denouncing corporate personhood” and “signed Occupy Santa Fe’s ‘99 Pledge,’ a commitment to vote for rigorous campaign finance reform. Prospects: Good.”
Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts): Warren … didn’t back down when Republicans tried to tie her to the movement’s extremist factions … . Prospects: Good.”
Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin): “She earned kudos in November from the Occupy crowd for sponsoring a resolution opposing any government deal that grants criminal immunity to banks. … Prospects: Excellent.”
Wenona Benally Baldenegro (Arizona): “ … has renounced campaign donations from corporate lobbyists and supports taxing the rich and public financing for elections. … Prospects: Fair.”
Hansen Clarke (Michigan): “Sponsoring legislation to forgive student debt has made the Detroit Congressman a hero to thousands of college kids involved with Occupy. … Prospects: Good.”
Ilya Sheyman (Illinois): “A 25-year-old former national mobilization director for MoveOn.org, Sheyman has made Occupy’s message of shared prosperity a key theme of his campaign. … Prospects: Good.”
An accompanying piece, is focused on Sheyman.
‘What excited me about Occupy was that the target of this anger and frustration was finally the right one,’ says Ilya Sheyman, who stepped down as national mobilization director for MoveOn.org early last year to compete for a seat held by a vulnerable GOP congressman. ‘I think … people feel like, ‘… we’ve changed the national conversation. Now we have to change leadership in Washington and deliver on that.’’
Sheyman has an Obama history.
In 2004, Sheyman campaigned on behalf of … Barack Obama. The next year, he went to work for Obama’s Senate office … before joining his boss’ presidential campaign. ‘This was the campaign that got me excited about the idea that we could make progress in this country,’ he says, though he’s quick to acknowledge that Obama’s presidency hasn’t lived up to everyone’s expectations.
‘I think what happened after [the election] is a lot of us said, ‘Our work is done. We’ve elected Barack Obama, we have a Democratic House and Senate, we are going to see the change that we want.’ But the reality is, it takes ongoing organizing and mobilizing from the grassroots level to make all the progress we’ve got to make.’
An analysis, from lambert:
Obama can never fail! He can only be failed! (Somebody should ask Mr. Sheyman whether Obama tossing OFA away like used Kleenex as soon as the election was over had anything to do with a lack of ‘ongoing organizing.’)
My thoughts: Ongoing grassroots engagement is absolutely essential. That doesn’t remove responsibility from, in this case, Mr. Obama.
… While the Occupy protesters typically eschew direct involvement in electoral politics, Sheyman believes that the movement has created the space to talk about the things he cares about. ‘When we started this campaign a year ago, every question was about … the deficit,’ Sheyman says. ‘Now the questions we hear about are how do you put people to work, how do you restore fairness to our tax system? That is a result of that shift in dialogue that Occupy has caused.’
The Democrats in Washington had thirty years to ‘change the national conversation’, didn’t do squat, and Occupy did their job in six months, therefore you should give the Democrats your money. And your time. And your vote.
… How stupid do they think we are? Do you invest in the people who made the change? Or the people who didn’t make the change? Do you reward practice? Or mal-practice? …
I think the Duopoly thinks “we the people” are quite stupid. Or at least that in general, willing to keep voting two partiers into office indefinitely, damn the unchanging consequences. We need more than two parties.