Subject: Re: [GlobalRevolutionMedia] Re: Can OWS be turned into a Democratic Party movement?
From: John Kersten
Date: Wed, 12 Oct 2011 05:02:42 -0400

It's an interesting point you bring up.

Keep in mind that the Democratic Party depends on Wall Street for campaign contributions, just like the Republicans. They will, I think, be cautious to appropriate our message.

On Wed, Oct 12, 2011 at 4:26 AM, beka economopoulos <> wrote:
Here's the thing: our messaging, our strategy, and our tactics must change based on the external landscape.  When we become embraced by the Democratic Party and its allies, we must go further than what makes them comfortable.  That's if we want to win more than concessions and easy reforms (that currently exist within the realm of possibility), and achieve game-changing substantive/structural reforms (that currently live in the realm of impossibility, that we didn't imagine we ever could see in our lifetimes).  

We should aim for nothing less -- why aim for closing up shop soon when we have no idea what we're capable of?  

Phase 1 = vanguard moves in, initiates occupation, largely dismissed, but staying power piques curiosity, and police misconduct/violence draws attention and wins sympathy. 

Phase 2 = vanguards in other cities recognize potential, initiate occupations. At the same time, initial occupation gathers steam, grows, large membership orgs endorse and give legitimacy that wasn't present before, now the mainstream media start to change tune.  Focus of coverage is human interest story of life in the park; and what do they want?

Phase 3 = mainstream media interest explodes, NGOs, labor, community, and establishment orgs engage supporters, connect existing campaigns to #occupy frame, amplify visibility and suggestion of social movement.  Democratic leadership embrace movement, as do party-related and electorally focused orgs.  Media coverage attributes power to movement, queries whether it's a Tea Party for the left, whether it will gain electoral power and legislative victories.   

Phase 4 = ?

We currently find ourselves in Phase 3. Senior members of the White House administration, and the President himself, have expressed support for OWS.   Democracy for America, a Howard Dean initiated group just sent an email blast to more than a million members tonight selling yard signs that say "We Are the 99%" with co-branded urls: and  OWS is embraced by the establishment as a means to amplify existing agendae.  

Bloomberg gives tacit "permission" for our occupation, effectively rendering it non-threatening and normalizing it.  Result is rise in media coverage of occupation as nuisance to neighbors.  

This is a natural and necessary phase.  So now what?  

We're in this for the long haul. There are no "solutions" that can be presented quickly to make us go away. And so there will be moments where our presence is no longer an uncomfortable and unknown variable, but rather is normalized and integrated. It's in those moments that we have to push the envelop, pry open the space of possibility even farther. We go as far as we can to destabalize, but maintain momentum. And when that's the new "normal" then we go farther. That's how change happens, how we shift the terrain and the terms of the game.

From an actions perspective, that means getting tactical, and mobile, activating the rest of the city, executing higher-risk actions, civil disobedience and arrests.  

From a media perspective, we have to get ahead of the game. We no longer need to legitimize.  Or articulate the problem.  Both are clearly established.  So, given this new moment how can we use media strategically?  

We must draw a line, disavow the Democrats explicitly, make our messaging a little uncomfortable.  Yes, perhaps, split the support, lest we not be co-opted. This will be painful, internally, as it won't always achieve comfortable consensus.  But to hold this space and expand the realm of possibility, we have to go farther than others are ready to go.  It's how this started and we can't be too shy to be bold. 

On Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 11:43 PM, William Dobbs <> wrote:

Savants – idiots and otherwise—say the Democratic Party operates a large and well-known junkyard for social movements.

I’d like to know more about the system that is in place to prevent it. 



From: [] On Behalf Of Ed Needham
Sent: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 11:35 PM
Subject: Re: Article: Can OWS be turned into a Democratic Party movement?


we will see a great deal of this sort of thing come along. every group who believes they can profit from endorsing or promoting ows or parts of its agenda, will.

especially politicians. and i think we have a pretty good system in place to prevent any iota of co-opting anywhere.

that said, it is a measured re-enforcement of our capacity to effect change immediately. when politicians start picking up your verbage and tone, it's a good sign.

On Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 9:34 PM, Tyler Combelic <> wrote:

GA solidarity

Sent from my iPhone

On Oct 11, 2011, at 9:16 PM, Patrick Bruner <> wrote:

> Solidarity with the Novemeber 6th march
> on the White House would be a good way to spin on message and against
> the Pres and Obama.
> Is this something that can be handled in house or should calls of
> solidarity originate from GA? or other working groups? Before this
> solidarity has mostly been handled through direct action in solidarity
> with the principles of GA, which seems untenable given the rapid
> expansion of the movement.
> On Oct 11, 8:19 pm, Kira Annika <> wrote:
>> This is terrible. At least they point out why it's completely hypocritical for dems to take us under their wing. Blech. Turn left, guys. Let's talk about this when we talk about messaging.
>> Sent from my iPhone
>> On Oct 11, 2011, at 7:27 PM, Mark Bray <> wrote:
>>> Need to prioritize talking about this before it's too late. Since we
>>> are thought of has having no direction, these kinds of superficial
>>> attempts by dems could sap our strength.
>>> When I first wrote in defense of the Occupy Wall Street protests a
>>> couple of weeks ago, I suggested that much of the scorn then being
>>> expressed by many progressives was “grounded in the belief that the
>>> only valid form of political activism is support for Democratic Party
>>> candidates.” Since then, even the most establishment Democrats have
>>> fundamentally changed how they talk about the protests — from
>>> condescension and hostility to respect and even support — and The New
>>> York Times today makes clear one significant factor accounting for
>>> this change:
>>> Leading Democratic figures, including party fund-raisers and a top
>>> ally of President Obama, are embracing the spread of the anti-Wall
>>> Street protests in a clear sign that members of the Democratic
>>> establishment see the movement as a way to align disenchanted
>>> Americans with their party.
>>> The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s powerful
>>> House fund-raising arm, is circulating a petition seeking 100,000
>>> party supporters to declare that “I stand with the Occupy Wall Street
>>> protests.”
>>> The Center for American Progress, a liberal organization run by John
>>> D. Podesta, who helped lead Mr. Obama’s 2008 transition, credits the
>>> protests with tapping into pent-up anger over a political system that
>>> it says rewards the rich over the working class — a populist theme now
>>> being emphasized by the White House and the party. The center has
>>> encouraged and sought to help coordinate protests in different cities.
>>> Judd Legum, a spokesman for the center, said that its direct contacts
>>> with the protests have been limited, but that “we’ve definitely been
>>> publicizing it and supporting it.”
>>> He said Democrats are already looking for ways to mobilize protesters
>>> in get-out-the-vote drives for 2012.
>>> Politico similarly noted today that “the White House wants to make it
>>> clear that President Barack Obama is on the same side as the Occupy
>>> Wall Street protesters.”
>>> Can that scheme work? Can the Occupy Wall Street protests be
>>> transformed into a get-out-the-vote organ of Obama 2012 and the
>>> Democratic Party? To determine if this is likely, let’s review a few
>>> relevant facts.
>>> In March, 2008, The Los Angeles Times published an article with the
>>> headline “Democrats are darlings of Wall St“, which reported that both
>>> Obama and Clinton “are benefiting handsomely from Wall Street
>>> donations, easily surpassing Republican John McCain in campaign
>>> contributions.”  In June, 2008, Reuters published an article entitled
>>> “Wall Street puts its money behind Obama”; it detailed that Obama had
>>> almost twice as much in contributions from “the securities and
>>> investment industry” and that “Democrats garnered 57 percent of the
>>> contributions from” that industry. When the financial collapse
>>> exploded, then-candidate Obama became an outspoken supporter of the
>>> Wall Street bailout.
>>> After Obama’s election, the Democratic Party controlled the White
>>> House, the Senate and the House for the first two years, and the White
>>> House and Senate for the ten months after that. During this time,
>>> unemployment and home foreclosures were painfully high, while Wall
>>> Street and corporate profits exploded, along with income inequality.
>>> In July, 2009, The New York Times dubbed JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie
>>> Dimon “Obama’s favorite banker” because of his close relationship
>>> with, and heavy influence on, leading Democrats, including the
>>> President. In February, 2010, President Obama defended Dimon’s $17
>>> million bonus and the $9 million bonus to Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein
>>> — both of whose firms received substantial taxpayer bailouts — as fair
>>> and reasonable.
>>> The key Senate fundraiser for the Party is Chuck Schumer, whom the New
>>> York Times profiled — in an article headlined “Champion of Wall Street
>>> Reaps the Benefits” — as someone who repeatedly supported “measures
>>> now blamed for contributing to the financial crisis” and who “took
>>> other steps to protect industry players from government oversight and
>>> tougher rules” and thus “became a magnet for campaign donations from
>>> wealthy industry executives, including Jamie Dimon, now the chief
>>> executive of JPMorgan Chase; John J. Mack, the chief executive at
>>> Morgan Stanley; and Charles O. Prince III, the former chief executive
>>> of Citigroup.” That servitude to Wall Street is what consolidated
>>> Schumer’s power in the Party:
>>> As a result, [Schumer] has collected over his career more in campaign
>>> contributions from the securities and investment industry than any of
>>> his peers in Congress, with the exception of Senator John F. Kerry of
>>> Massachusetts . . . In the last two-year election cycle, he helped
>>> raise more than $120 million for the Democrats’ Senate campaign
>>> committee, drawing nearly four times as much money from Wall Street as
>>> the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Donors often mention his
>>> “pro-business message” and record of addressing their concerns.
>>> Upon being inaugurated, Obama empowered as his top economic adviser
>>> Larry Summers, who had “collected roughly $5.2 million in compensation
>>> from hedge fund D.E. Shaw over the [prior] year and was paid more than
>>> $2.7 million in speaking fees by several troubled Wall Street firms
>>> and other organizations,” including a fee of $135,000 for a single day
>>> of speaking at Goldman, Sachs, and who also led the orgy of Wall
>>> Street deregulation in the 1990s.  Obama installed as Treasury
>>> Secretary Tim Geithner, whom the New York Times explained had “forged
>>> unusually close relationships with executives of Wall Street’s giant
>>> financial institutions.”
>>> When Obama chose him, Geithner had just participated in a secret
>>> meeting along with Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Goldman
>>> Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, at which it was decided that a bankrupt AIG
>>> would be saved and then — with taxpayer money — would pay Goldman
>>> every penny owed to it.  Summers, in February, 2009, defended gaudy
>>> AIG bonuses as compelled by “the rule of law” even after the
>>> administration forced auto union workers to take sizable cuts in their
>>> contractually guaranteed pay.
>>> As his Chief of Staff at Treasury, Geithner chose Mark Patterson, the
>>> former top lobbyist for Goldman, Sachs. Goldman replaced Patterson
>>> with Michael Paese, who at the time was the top staffer to Democratic
>>> Rep. Barney Frank in his capacity as Chairman of the House Financial
>>> Services Committee, which regulates Wall Street. Obama’s choice to
>>> oversee America’s futures markets was Gary Gensler, a former Goldman
>>> Sachs executive who, during the 1990s, was known for his shockingly
>>> lax enforcement of regulations governing derivative products. Obama re-
>>> appointed Bush’s Fed Chair Ben Bernanke, and named CEO of GE Jeffery
>>> Immelt to head his panel of jobs advisers, along with several other
>>> job-cutting corporate executives.
>>> When Rahm Emanuel — who had made $16 million in three years as an
>>> investment banker after leaving the Clinton White House — left as
>>> Obama’s Chief of Staff to run for Mayor of Chicago, Obama chose as his
>>> replacement Bill Daley, who at the time was serving as JP Morgan’s
>>> Midwest Chairman and a director of Boeing. Shortly after Obama’s star
>>> director of Office of Management and Budget, Peter Orszag, left the
>>> administration, he became a top executive at Citigroup. The DCCC,
>>> recently headed by Emanuel and now feigning support for the protests,
>>> is characterized by little other than a strategy of supporting
>>> corporatist, Wall-Street-revering “Blue Dog” Democrats as a way of
>>> consolidating power.
>>> One of the most significant aspects of the Obama administration is the
>>> lack of criminal prosecutions for leading Wall Street executives for
>>> the 2008 financial crisis. Obama recently opined — even while there
>>> are supposedly ongoing DOJ investigations — that Wall Street’s
>>> corruption was, in general, not illegal. The New York Times recently
>>> reported that top Obama officials are heavily pressuring New York
>>> State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to join a woefully inadequate
>>> settlement agreement that would end all investigations and litigations
>>> against Wall Street firms for pervasive mortgage fraud.
>>> Given these facts, does the Center for American Progress really
>>> believe that the protest movement named OccupyWallStreet was begun —
>>> and that people are being arrested and pepper-sprayed and ready to
>>> endure harsh winters and marching to Jamie Dimon’s house — in order to
>>> devote themselves to ensuring that these people remain in power? Does
>>> CAP and the DCCC really believe that most of the protesters are
>>> motivated — or can be motivated — to turn themselves into a get-out-
>>> the-vote machine for Obama’s re-election and the empowerment of Chuck
>>> Schumer and the Democratic Party? Obviously, if when the GOP nominates
>>> some crony capitalist like Rick Perry or eager Wall Street servant
>>> like Mitt Romney, few if any of the protesters will or should support
>>> them, nor can it be denied that the GOP in its current incarnation is
>>> steadfastly devoted to a pro-Wall-Street, corporatist agenda. But it
>>> also seems to me quite delusional to think that you’re
>> ...
>> read more »

Edward Needham
Cambridge, MA


Not An Alternative

John Kersten
(206) 999-1281