Voting, not OWS, will change America

A low progressive turnout in 2010 got us into this mess. We can’t let that happen again

Cop-out at the Polls

In 2008, more than 65 million Americans cast Democratic votes in congressional races, a 13 million-vote edge over the Republicans. In 2010, the Democratic vote plummeted to an abysmal 35 million, 6 million less than the GOP, which took decisive power in the House and paralyzed the Senate.

We think we know this story. But the truth is, we haven’t begun to absorb its full details and implications yet:

  • The number of voters under 24 who bothered to go to the polls in 2010 dropped by a stupefying 60 percent, and those between 24 and 29 by almost 50 percent. Altogether, the participation of young people – who had been overwhelmingly pro-Obama in 2008 – declined by 11 million votes.
  • Among over-65-year-olds, the core of the Tea Party movement, the voting numbers barely changed, from 17.6 million in 2008 to 17.5 million in 2010.
  • The African-American vote fell by 40 percent, and the Hispanic vote by almost 30 percent.
  • Among the mostly white voters who earn more than $200,000 per year, the turnout fell by a scant 5 percent, from 7 million to 6.5 million.
  • Voting by those with annual incomes under $30,000 dropped by 33 percent, more than six times the figure for the affluent.

In effect, the abstainers turned a potential Democratic landslide into a full-scale collapse – with nightmarish consequences for civil rights, for the U.S. and world economies, and for social programs that range across the board from healthcare and educational funding to employment programs, pension benefits and the sagging national infrastructure.

It was a dream come true for the radical right, the sworn enemies of all public services. Their vote, measured at exit polls asking whether government was too intrusive, scarcely changed between the two elections, dropping from 50 million to 47 million.”


Don’t like the title of this article, but the main point is completely valid: VOTE!!!

It’s amusing how quickly people like to forget things. Like 2009. And most of 2010.

What is up with this myth that “Oh, only if the House would have stayed Democratic after 2010, we would have everything we want? Therefore it’s all our fault, stupid us.” This is profoundly disconnected from reality.

Does anyone else remember “health care reform?” The huge fight over the stimulus? And perhaps more important, does anyone else remember all of the important things that weren’t even addressed during this term? Anyone??? It had nothing to do with the House, it was the fact that the Democrats couldn’t hold more than a supermajority in the Senate. And even in a major voting year like 2008, even with the unprecedented anti-Republican attitude at the polls thanks to Dubya, the Dems couldn’t gain enough ground to hold onto their supermajority in the Senate. This isn’t an electoral problem, this is a structural problem.*

Furthermore, the author of the article (and, by extension, the OP) doesn’t deign to offer the following fact: the majority of #OWS supporters are over 25, at 44.5% in the 25-44 age bracket, and 32% being over 45. That makes 76.5% of #OWS supporters that are OVER 25. Only 23.5% of #OWS participants are under 24.** So bolding that section as if it is a clever observation is asinine.

For these people, their only view of #OWS is one to serve a short-term political interest, one that can be formulated by a party. What about all of the problems (like the ones of political organization and representation themselves) that cannot be addressed by a party/legislative apparatus and must form outside this structure? We condemn the organization of modern party politics itself, so why would we put more of our time and energy into supporting such a bankrupt and worthless paradigm?

I would expect people to know better, but some people (like the OP) continue to push this bullshit and ignore reason, although it has been practically pasted to their faces many times now.

(* Not to mention that the Dems are certainly not the answer to your prayers. Does anyone still believe this?)

(** Source: Fast Company)

A Moral Focus for Occupy Wall Street

I think it is a good thing that the occupation movement is not making specific policy demands. If it did, the movement would become about those demands. If the demands were not met, the movement would be seen as having failed. […]

Publicize the Public

Tell the truth about The Public, that nobody makes it purely on their own without The Public, that is, without public infrastructure, the justice system, health, education, scientific research, protections of all sorts, public lands, transportation, resources, art and culture, trade policies, safety nets, That is a truth to be told day after day. It is an idea that must take hold in public discourse. It must go beyond what I and others have written about it and beyond what Elizabeth Warren has said in her famous video. The Public is not opposed to The Private. The Public is what makes The Private possible. And it is what makes freedom possible. Wall Street exists only through public support. It has a moral obligation to direct itself to public needs.

All OWS approaches to policy follow from such a moral focus. Here are a handful examples. […]

A Warning

This movement could be destroyed by negativity, by calls for revenge, by chaos, or by having nothing positive to say. Be positive about all things and state the moral basis of all suggestions. Positive and moral in calling for debt relief. Positive and moral in upholding laws, as they apply to finances. Positive and moral in calling for fairness in acquiring needed revenue. Positive and moral in calling for clean elections. To be effective, your movement must be seen by all of the 99% as positive and moral. To get positive press, you must stress the positive and the moral.

Remember: The Tea Party sees itself as stressing only individual responsibility. The Occupation Movement is stressing both individual and social responsibility.

"We The People Have Found Our Voice" - by Iva Radivojevic and Martyna Starosta

The memory of struggles from before the global economic crash has allowed people to move beyond a simple kneejerk response to the present crisis and instead formulate a deeper critique of the system responsible for their woes. In practice, this has meant a popular shift from complaints about specific laws or specific features of the banking system that might serve as scapegoats for the crisis, to a radical critique of government and capitalism. While the movement is heterogeneous and by no means consistent, on multiple occasions it has popularly defined itself as anticapitalist, thus drawing on a strong tradition of struggle that goes back more than a century throughout Europe.

The United States is also a country with inspiring histories of popular struggle. But it is a country with a case of social amnesia like no other. It seems that to a certain extent, the Occupy Wall Street actions exist more as a trend than anything else. The slight extent to which they draw on, or even make reference to, earlier struggles, even struggles from the past twenty years, is worrying.  The fact that a present awareness of US history would shatter certain cornerstones of the new movement’s identity, for example this idea of the 99% that includes everyone but the bankers in one big, happy family, is not a sufficient excuse to avoid this task. The historical amnesia of American society must be overcome for a struggle to gain the perspective it needs.