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In response to my controversial blog at Daily Kos and a personal phone call, Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West have now invited me on their program to discuss the issue of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the upcoming US presidential election.

I want to thank Dr. West for agreeing to debate this issue with me.

The controversy surrounds my insistence that I will withhold my vote for President Barack Obama, even though I previously served as a delegate for him during the last election.

Dr. West, on the other hand, apparently endorses Obama despite his many outspoken criticisms of the administration's policies.

I have maintained that one of the great strengths of the Occupy Wall Street movement has been it's ability to avoid being co-opted by any particular special interest group or political party. Although some elected officials in the Democratic Party have expressed public support for the occupiers cause, many of these same politicians have also ordered the arrest of protesters and have allowed their civil rights to be violated by law enforcement authorities. The photos from Moscow showing police rounding up demonstrators look very familiar to OWS participants in NYC, Oakland and Seattle...

Given that the national electoral system has been largely undermined and broken by the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision, many participants in the occupy movement feel that there is no place for them in politics. The movement has been an organic expression of their mistrust of the corporate government state from the very beginning. Instead of supporting any particular candidate or party for office, OWS working groups all over the country have been organizing locally. You will find them staging sit-ins outside the mayor's office, protesting in front of the state capitol and coordinating boycotts outside of Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

The many predictions of a certain demise for the occupy movement have proven to be "greatly exaggerated". The activists are committed to taking on important economic and political issues directly by organizing public demonstrations. Without pressure from the outside, even populist public officials are bound to go along with the power elite in Washington, DC.

If the Democrats want some support from the national occupy movement, they will have to prove that they are with the ninety-nine percent! So far, that is not an easily won case. To the contrary, it is more likely that on a national scale, Democratic candidates will receive just as much criticism from the activists as the Republicans. They are both accused of being two branches of the same corporate controlled political party - The "Demopublican Republicrats"...

I am aware that most Democrats don't like to hear this kind of criticism. They prefer to accuse the occupiers of being incompetent and unrealistic - which is a very cynical point of view. The Democrats usually rely on people's fear of the Republicans in order to secure votes from progressive populists. These follks are seen as a captive audience with no other choice but to vote for the "lesser of two evils". This is an arrogant attitude, and one that is also reserved for the Greens and Ralph Nader. Instead of opening their arms and actually creating the inclusiveness that all Democratic candidates proudly proclaim, they simply insult and ignore liberals and progressives who are not part of the regular party establishment.

I am not saying that I want Romney or Santorum as our president! Democrats who oppose my view often jump to that premature conclusion.

What I am saying is that as a voter, I cannot in good conscience pledge my vote for Obama at the present time. I believe it would be a mistake to give in to the Democrats and blindly support their candidate. My first allegiance is with the Occupy Wall Street movement, not the Democratic Party.

There is a lot of time left until the November elections. There should be plenty of time for debate and disagreement in a healthy democratic society. Whether you agree with me or not, I doubt it is now time to "circle the wagons"  - especially since the latest polls show Obama doing quite well against Romney...

I know that my "Open Letter To Dr. Cornel West" has sparked a heated debate and I welcome that.

I look forward to discussing this issue with Dr. West on the air!

Originally posted to Mark Taylor-Canfield on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 09:57 PM PST.

Also republished by Occupy Seattle.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I hope you enjoy taping the show (6+ / 0-)

    I won't be watching.  

    Dare to win in 2012

    by snout on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 10:07:42 PM PST

  •  Here is where I will disagree with you: (15+ / 0-)
    I am aware that most Democrats don't like to hear this kind of criticism. They prefer to accuse the occupiers of being incompetent and unrealistic - which is a very cynical point of view.

    ...

    This is an arrogant attitude, and one that is also reserved for the Greens and Ralph Nader. Instead of opening their arms and actually creating the inclusiveness that all Democratic candidates proudly proclaim, they simply insult and ignore liberals and progressives who are not part of the regular party establishment.

    Frankly, I think most Democratic politicians are not that concerned with the criticism. Your comment that they may view the OWS movement in a similar way that they view Greens/Nader is probably true only to the extent that they probably believe OWS is not large enough or significant enough to impact the election.

    In other words, these pols are not particularly concerned with the criticism and messaging of OWS because they don't believe that OWS members withholding votes will hurt them.

    They may be correct and they may not be correct, but my point is that I think Dem pols, Obama included, think a lot less about OWS than you think they do.

    •  Pols are about groups of people they can please (5+ / 0-)

      That's the problem with the reflexively critical part of the far left.  

      Think of it this way, if a family member indicates to you that they can never be pleases no matter what you do, at some point you tune them out.

      Democratic pols tune out guys like this diarist because there is no point in trying to please him.  If he got 80% of what he wanted, he'd threaten to withhold his vote over thE other 20%.

      Dare to win in 2012

      by snout on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 10:24:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Another persistent problem w/ the diarist and ... (6+ / 0-)

        people like him is that they actually cannot believe that any human being, or any progressive or liberal, could possible sincerely have a different point of view from him.

        If the Democrats want some support from the national occupy movement, they will have to prove that they are with the ninety-nine percent!
        ...
        The Democrats usually rely on people's fear of the Republicans in order to secure votes from progressive populists. These follks are seen as a captive audience with no other choice but to vote for the "lesser of two evils". This is an arrogant attitude, and one that is also reserved for the Greens and Ralph Nader.
        While OWS has done some positive things in terms of affecting the debate, they are by no means "the 99%" -- more like 1/100th of 1 percent.  By assuming that they represent the views of the 99%, they can assume that whoever disagrees with them is misguided or dishonest.

        They think that the only reason someone like me supports the administration is "lesser of two evils" rather than that I am very enthusiastic about the overwhelming majority of policies the administration and Democrats have adopted.

        They assume that someone like me simply cannot exist, even though polls show that in the "real world" the overwhelming majority of people who describe themselves as liberal or progressive are strong supporters of the administration and Democrats in general.

        This is why people like the diarist will continue to marginalize himself as part of the 1/100th of 1%, otherwise known as Naderites and Greens.

        •  Just curious (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ehrenfeucht games

          I'm not familiar with the diarist or you so i'm asking with legitimate curiosity - are you getting that from this one diary or past posts or another source?

          Just curious, I didn't draw the same conclusion you did and I wondered if you might be being hasty or I'm just sleep-deprived =)

          •  From the diary itself (3+ / 0-)

            I'm not very familiar with the diarist other than this diary and the one it refers to.

            But language like this makes his pov clear:

            The Democrats usually rely on people's fear of the Republicans ..   no other choice but to vote for the "lesser of two evils".
            In my case and according to polls, most liberals and progressives don't support Democrats out of "fear" of Republicans or "lesser of two evilism" but because they actually support what the Democrats are doing.
    •  Many, Many False Starts Must Happen Before (10+ / 0-)

      a course toward fundamental change is ever found.

      Occupy put the concept of mass economic injustice into mainstream discussion for the first time since the big band era. If it doesn't accomplish another thing, it can die proud.

      The Democratic Party is a conservative party so of course it's not going to embrace progressives/liberals or other populist upstarts. They don't worry about OWS any more than they worry about most of the occupants.

      That can be changed.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 10:24:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm with you. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    John Kelly, Aspe4, chipmo, TheLawnRanger

    Then again, I live in California, a state that should be solidly in Obama's and the Democrats' camp in any reasonably competitive national election. I will vote freely for the candidate that comes closest to my views, and people that criticize me for that because they don't understand or care to acknowledge the batshit crazy electoral college that we have in this nation, they can shove it.

    Sorry folks, but no way California's going to be the 2012 version of Florida or Ohio, and stop acting like it might. If California is close to voting for the GOP nominee in November, Obama's toast anyway.

    •  You hold the same views (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Deep Texan

      as yourself 100%. So based on your reasoning, you should write yourself in. Because based on your reasoning, you would prefer you as president over Barack Obama. Because you and he disagree on some issues.

  •  So what though? (5+ / 0-)

    My own personal opinion is different from yours, but why would I (or anybody else here) care that you are "withholding your vote" from Obama at this time? He got like 60 million votes in 2008, and will likely get some huge number like that again. I don't think we are so statistically ignorant as to think that one vote either way is worth even a second thought.  And you are going on a show to talk about where your head is at on your vote? Is this something that will be on network programming?

  •  BBC Program - Moscow & US Police Crackdowns (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, zongo, marina, John Kelly, Aspe4

    I was on a BBC program yesterday - "World Have Your Say".  

    During the broadcast, a citizen of Russia said that the police crackdowns against Occupy Wall Street in the US have been more severe than police actions against protesters in his country.

    If Obama would speak out against the mistreatment of US demonstrators, I would be more willing to consider his candidacy.

    I'm thinking about Scott Olsen, Dorli Rainy, etc.

  •  Looks forward to that debate. I'm in agreement (8+ / 0-)

    relative to the purpose and agenda for the Occupy movement.  The entire concept for the movement focuses on how the electoral process, both parties, have been corrupted and coopted by the money of the 1%, or .01% ore accurately.  

  •  Hey, is it 2000 again (10+ / 0-)

    Seriously, your comment about The "Demopublican Republicrats" reminds me of 2000, when people were saying that there was no difference between Gore and Bush and cast their votes for Nader. Forget Florida, if Nader wasn't on the ballot, Gore would have likely won New Hampshire and the general election. Instead it sparked the Bush misery.

    Now I can understand your frustration and disappointment, I admit that I am no where near as enthusiastic about the President as I was in 2008 but you know what, I am going to vote for him and try to encourage as many people as I can to do so. And why would I do this even though President Obama and the Democratic Party can be frustrating?

    It's because the alternative is unacceptable.

    Can you seriously look at what's happened since the GOP took over the House and tell me that there's no difference between Democrats and Republicans? The fact of the matter is, if the GOP takes all three branches after 2012, they will kill Medicare and Medicaid and rig the system so that Social Security dies as well, they will institute austerity measures/draconian budget cuts that will cost millions of jobs and imperil countless lives. Oh and they'd already have us invading Iran.

    That aside, what is it that you hope Occupy will accomplish? Because if you stay on the outside looking in, that's all that will happen. You are right that there is a lesser of two evils going on but if you expect to get support by not participating, then you either need to get an organized following numbering in the millions, or make yourself comfortable because you will be ignored.

    I wish Occupy would take a leaf out of the Goldwaterites book and get involved and lay the groundwork to retake the American debate. After they were crushed in 1964, they promptly began a long term take over of not only the GOP but the entire nation. By taking over local apparatuses, funding their echo chambers and running their candidates, we are living with the results today.

    I admit that I am echoing what you view as the "cynical" point of view but I have grown up in DC, I have seen these GOP nutjobs drag us into an unjust war while raiding the economy for their tax cuts. I say if you really want to change the system, you need to plan long term, get into local politics, get elected on city councils and boards, lay down a foundation for a new generation of progressive politicians that ARE devoted to the 99%.

    Otherwise, we're just back at 2000 in which the greater of two evils took advantage of general distrust of the system to run amuck. While I agree that we're not in "circle the wagons" mode yet, this election is going to get tighter and there's no telling what's going to happen months down the line, especially if Netanyahu does follow through on his threats or the Eurozone collapses.

    The frustration is understandable and warranted at times but staying separate from everything is not the answer.

    •  We can't be a mirror image of the GOP (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aspe4, Deep Texan, ehrenfeucht games

      Sorry, but Occupy trying to emulate the Goldwaterites in strategy will be epic failure. Indeed, the progressive movement in this country has been an epic failure largely because they have, for the most part, tried to stick to electoral politics.

      When you have corporate America on your side, Goldwaterites will eventually gain power. Hell, you can come up with an insanely stupid idea as a 12 year old - no new taxes no way no how - and end up being one of the most powerful politicians in America. That's the way you can roll when you have the Koch brothers on your side.

      Occupy people? Not so much. They have to take their cues from people who .. uh .. actually occupied stuff, like the sit-down strikers of the 1930s.

    •  There's no serious risk of that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe wobblie

      Obama is clobbering every Republican candidate.  Come on.

    •  It is unfortunate when people who want to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe wobblie

      criticize the Democrats for being way to corporatized think that they must equate Democrats with Republicans on all levels.

      It shows a lack of imagination and analytical ability to be unable to distinguish between the Democrats and Republicans, and still be highly critical of Democrats.

      Proud to be a Truth Vigilante

      by Calvino Partigiani on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 07:58:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Republished to Occupy Seattle (0+ / 0-)

    Will you be voting in any of the other partisan races like for Governor?

    Republicans take care of big money, for big money takes care of them ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 11:17:32 PM PST

  •  As much as I want to talk you into voting for Ob (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Thousandwatts, uciguy30, Deep Texan

    I think the more important question is - Do you plan to vote at all?

    •  Not voting is helping the enemy and this is not (8+ / 0-)

      simply an academic exercise in democracy, this is class war. Not to vote or to protest vote for any candidate that is not Obama in the general is aiding and abetting the enemy.
      To believe for an instant that the rethugs are indistinguishable from the Dems is to take a detached, academic position in a situation that is not a hypothetical situation.
      The rethugs will destroy the safety net and feed our families to the streets; it is the promise they have made to their owners (Norquist et al.).
      To think otherwise is to be disconnected from the realities of the situation.
      To allow the rethugs to take power is to destroy ourselves.

      Occupy- Your Mind. - No better friend, no worse enemy. -8.75, -6.21 Bring the Troops Home Yesterday

      by Thousandwatts on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 12:11:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Couldn't of said it better. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Thousandwatts, Deep Texan

        I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends... that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them. (Adlai Stevenson)

        by ProgressMoShuffle on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 02:19:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Didn't Bradley Manning get charged with... (0+ / 0-)

        ...something like that?

        Not to vote or to protest vote for any candidate that is not Obama in the general is aiding and abetting the enemy.
        My, my...the rhetoric gets pretty heated and extreme here from time to time.

        "If I can't dance, then I don't want to be in your revolution"--Emma Goldman

        by ehrenfeucht games on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 07:45:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not sure about Manning's role in the subject, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TheLawnRanger

          But

          rhetoric gets pretty heated and extreme here from time to time.
          is the least of my worries if the rethugs win in the general.

          I've lived on UI and had to depend on the safety net for survival.
          In my book, being threatened with homelessness at the whim of the pols justifies a little "heated rhetoric" all day long.

          Occupy- Your Mind. - No better friend, no worse enemy. -8.75, -6.21 Bring the Troops Home Yesterday

          by Thousandwatts on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 11:55:00 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I believe that Manning was charged with... (0+ / 0-)

            ...the same offense that you throw around so easily.

            "If I can't dance, then I don't want to be in your revolution"--Emma Goldman

            by ehrenfeucht games on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 03:48:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Specificity seems to be an impairment... (0+ / 0-)

              ...from which you suffer.

              The "offense" that I "throw around so easily" is not voting for Obama, which I am equating with voting for the rethugs.
              I don't recall Manning being charged and imprisoned for not voting Democratic, but maybe I am mistaken.
              And by "not voting Dem", I mean going to the poll and casting a ballot- literally voting- not some metaphorical form of aligning himself against the government or Obama, or being jailed and mistreated for having views that might be anti-Obama.

              Just as I literally mean the rethugs will destroy the middle class and the safety net, as well as complete the "stacking" of the SCOTUS, if they are elected.
               Literally putting untold numbers of people in the streets, and setting back civil rights a hundred years.\

              But, I,,, "get"... your allusions.

              Occupy- Your Mind. - No better friend, no worse enemy. -8.75, -6.21 Bring the Troops Home Yesterday

              by Thousandwatts on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 06:24:17 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  I posted a diary about being cynical awhile back (6+ / 0-)

    Billy Bragg, Obama, Cynicism, and Hope

    Billy Bragg said it better than I could:

    BILLY BRAGG: I did Red Wedge, beat Margaret Thatcher. Tony Blair was elected. And what a disappointment that turned out to be. And I understand how people may feel about Obama, but we have to guard against that cynicism. It’s very, very dangerous, of particularly people like ourselves who want to make the world a better place. Our cynicism is what stands in our way, not Fox News’s cynicism. You know, we can see that for what it is. But it’s our doubt and our cynicism. And although people may feel disappointed with the way things have turned out for Obama, you must remember that, you know, the thing that’s different now in America, and in the world, as well, because of the nature of the American presidency—the thing that’s different from before, under Bush, is that with Obama in the White House, we live in a world of possibilities. Not all of those possibilities will be realized, and there will be disappointments along the road, but it’s absolutely crucial that, as long as he’s in there, we keep pushing, because, you know, when the other lot get back in, we’re going to be locked out again. So, you must continue to engage.

    "Converts are the worst bigots." -- Max Headroom

    by jethrock on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 12:20:06 AM PST

  •  "I am not saying that I want Romney or Santorum (4+ / 0-)

    ...as president!"

    Perhaps not, but that's what you'll help bring about if you sit on your hands.

    And it's not about "the lesser of two evils," either. It's about good versus evil. Though certainly not perfect, the Obama administration has an incredible record of accomplishment.

    Do I agree with everything it's done? Hell, no. But I will cast my vote in November for President Obama with pride.

    And, by the way, Ralph Nader is vomit.

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 02:24:52 AM PST

  •  Democrats don't need support from Occupy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnny wurster, charliehall2

    Occupy doesn't need us and we don't need Occupy.
    Its only a measure of Occupy's delusion of self importance that they
    think we would need a movement who reviles us publically. Who attacks Democratic administrations nationwide! Another measure is Occupy's use of a website thats dedicated to electing Democrats to again simultaneously revile us and proselytize their cause

    ".....If the Democrats want some support from the national occupy movement, they will have to prove that they are with the ninety-nine percent!....."
    Democrats don't need to prove shit to Occupy, there's millions and millions---10s of millions---- of us and just s few thousands of you. Your biggest delusion is that you represent the 99%!! get real!! NOBODY represents 99% of the people! Its stupid to say or think so!! Could we see some actual proof you do instead of just you constant insistence?

    Youre a fringe group!! And a small one at thatTho we may share some of the same goals, your movement started less than a year ago. Occupy may have drawn atention to certain problems but there hasn't yet accomplished anything. All sound and fury, no concrete achievements other than to alienate the vast majority of Democrats---the side that shares at least some of your goals.

    So rant and rave, its a free country. Thanks in large part to liberals (kos is one!) and not at all to Occupy.
    You don't want our leadership and we don't want yours---or anything else you got!!

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 03:29:06 AM PST

    •  If he made a proposal at a GA to not vote (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheLawnRanger

      for President Obama and it got consensus, you would know what the GA he participates in agrees with him. Don't condem all of OWS just based on what he personally believes and says or does.

  •  Congratulations, but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheLawnRanger

    be careful of attempts to "gotcha" and strawman you - and the Occupy movement. Among others I see incoming:

    "Why does Occupy Wall Street support violent protest?"
    "Why does Occupy Wall Street support redistribution? Isn't redistribution of welth just socialism?"
    "Why does Occupy Wall Street want to punish the successful? What do you have against people making money?"

    Prepare answers to these, and other 'gotcha' questions - and learn to spot the strawman "questions" which attempt to negatively define you before you get a chance to answer them. Don't - for one moment - neglect to push back against these frauds, because they're only inviting you onto their show in order to discredit you live, on-air.

    Don't be fooled by their "liberal" credentials - they're just like almost all of the rest of the punditry, in that they're too much creatures of the system to support any substantative reform of it. Go in polite, but guarded.

  •  I'm sick of ideological purity (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deep Texan, HamdenRice, TheLawnRanger

    If you want to accomplish anything, you have to compromise.

    If you want Democrats to control Congress, you have to accept that there are many districts -- close to half the United States, where the choice will be between a Conservadem and a wingnut. There are simply not enough congressional districts in the US that are winnable for a Progressive.

    That was in fact a major part of Howard Dean's 50 state strategy: Run conservative candidates in conservative districts. It worked. Thank the conservadems when they do support us and don't insist on their having to cast votes that are toxic for their constituency.

    I live in a county that voted over 88% for Barack Obama. But most of the country is not like that. Until it is, we need to avoid making the perfect the enemy of the good.

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