The Democrats and their allies in the liberal establishment are trying to co-opt the Occupy movement. This isn’t paranoia: it’s what they do (see: the antiwar movement).
Many people within the Occupy movement have expressed fears about this attempted co-option. It’s particularly a problem here in Washington, DC, where people paid to elect Democrats are some of the most active participants at the McPherson Square camp. While I was out of town this past weekend, I’m told concerns about co-option and Democratic infiltration were voiced by several folks at this past Saturday’s meeting of the action committee – a committee that includes employees of the SEIU’s Washington lobbying office as well as the co-founder of the Democratic Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
But were those voices heard? At the Monday general assembly, members of the action committee – which in the name of Occupy DC as a whole can approve or reject actions without seeking any form of consensus from the camp as a whole – announced that they had some news for us. Oh boy: they had agreed to back an upcoming “national day of action” sponsored by none other than the SEIU, MoveOn.org and Van Jones’ Rebuild the Dream. The last such “day of action” resulted in the SEIU/Occupy DC rally at the KeyBridge calling on “obstructionists in Congress” to boost infrastructure spending — by passing Obama’s jobs bill, of course.
The last action with the SEIU at the Key Bridge was a flop. The only message most Washingtonians received was courtesy local news station WTOP: avoid the Key Bridge, commuters, traffic’s going to be a mess out there. That and the implication that the Occupy movement is an arm of organized labor and the Democrats.
In the comments to my last piece about Occupy DC’s action committee, someone from the camp downplayed my concerns about the liberal-heavy makeup of the committee and its infiltration by people paid to elect Democrats. “Since the Key Bridge action, Occupy has not done a horizontal action with SEIU,” they wrote, “so I would suggest people get past that issue [co-option] until someone tries to partner Occupy DC with another SEIU action.”
Maybe trying to reach 100 percent consensus is a bad idea — I’d like to see a requirement that major actions be agreed to by 80 to 90 percent of those attending a general assembly — but then so is outsourcing control over which actions are “official” Occupy DC events to a committee composed of but 1 percent of the movement.
UPDATE: From The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, who spoke with SEIU President Mary Kay Henry about the planned protest:
One goal of the protests, Henry says, is to pressure Republicans to support Obama’s jobs creation proposals.
“The reason we’re targeting Republicans is because this is about jobs,” she said. “The Republicans’ insistence that no revenue can be put on the table is the reason we’re not creating jobs in this country. We want to draw a stark contrast between a party that wants to scapegoat immigrants, attack public workers, and protect the rich, versus a president who has been saying he wants America to get back to work and that everybody should pay their fair share.”