Opinion » Ted Rall

Dems Occupy Occupy

MoveOn co-opts OWS rhetoric


If Democrats were doing their jobs, there wouldn't be an Occupy movement.

The last 40 years have left liberals and progressives without a party and working people without an advocate. The party of FDR, JFK and LBJ abandoned its principles, embracing and voting along with Ronald Reagan and two Bushes. These new Democrats were indistinguishable from Republicans, waging optional wars, exporting jobs overseas and coddling corrupt CEOs while the rest of us sat and watched in silent rage.

President Barack Obama is merely the latest of these phony Democrats.

The Occupiers revolted under Obama's watch for two reasons. The gap between the promise of his rhetoric and the basic indecency of his disregard for the poor and unemployed was too awful to ignore. Moreover, the economic collapse pushed a dam of insults, pain and anger past its breaking point.

Haphazard and ad hoc, the Occupy movement is an imperfect response that fills a yawning gap in the American marketplace of ideas. Now the same Democrats who killed liberalism are trying to co-opt the movement.

MoveOn.org, which began as a plea for the United States to "move on" during Clinton's impeachment, claims to be an independent, progressive activist group. It's really a shill for center-right Democratic politicians whom MoveOn endorsed in the 2008 primaries.

MoveOn brazenly stole the movement's best-known meme for its Nov. 17 "We Are The 99 Percent" event. Why didn't MoveOn ask permission? Because it wouldn't have gotten it. "We're just days from the Super Committee's deadline to propose more cuts for the 99 percent or increased taxes for the 1 percent," reads MoveOn's ersatz event. "Come out and help increase the pressure on Congress to tax Wall Street to create millions of jobs."

Lobbying Congress contradicts a fundamental tenet of the movement that began with Occupy Wall Street. Occupy exists to figure out how to get rid of the existing system.

On Dec. 7, another Democratic "Astroturf" organization, the American Dream Movement, lifted Occupy's rhetoric to promote a very different, milquetoast agenda.

The American Dream Movement was co-founded in June 2011 by former Obama political adviser Van Jones and MoveOn.org.

A written statement for the ADM's Take Back the Capitol threatened to "make Wall Street pay" for enriching the richest 1 percent and "track down those responsible for crashing the economy and causing millions of 99 percent-ers to lose their jobs and homes--while failing to pay their fair share of taxes."

Sounds like Occupy. Which is great. Somewhat less than awesome is the content of the Take Back the Capitol: begging Congressmen, who ought to awaiting trial, for a few crumbs.

"Demonstrators visited the offices of about 99 House and Senate members, from both parties, and most were refused meetings with lawmakers," reported NPR.

If Congress were responsive, if Obama and his colleagues spent one-tenth as much time and money on the unemployed as they do golfing, invading and shoveling trillions of dollars at bankers, we wouldn't need Occupy.

But we won't have one for long. Not if Occupy lets itself get occupied by MoveOn and the Democrats.