US Election 2012: Occupy Should Have Backed Up Sanders

Editor’s Note: The original version of this article was written on December 27, 2011. At the time NJP was “floating” the idea of a Senator Sanders run for the 2012 US presidential election. The article was not received well by the decision makers at Occupy, who painted the movement paradoxically as a “pure grassroots leaderless movement”. With only 40 shares on Facebook and very few on Twitter — a very small number for our publication — the original article was basically shut down by the powers that be within the OWS movement.

Some Occupy activists conveyed to NJP that they didn’t want to get into the “fray of electoral politics”, at least not at a national level. Some were sincere. Others were in the process of infiltrating the movement on behalf of the Obama campaign. Occupy was in the process of being neutered, hijacked and even bribed  by Obama’s indirect surrogates such as George Soros (through his outlet MoveOn.org) and even directly by Obama’s thinly disguised political operator Van Jones. Both infiltrations were exposed by Liam Fox and myself for NJP.

The Occupy movement has changed the overall political discourse and is helping to define what could be a global left. Needless to say, US Democrats, at large, are so center-right that they do not offer anything the Occupy movement could remotely support. Even in Europe the mainstream left — Socialist parties in France, Spain and Italy — has no political alternative to offer to the Occupy movement, because the so-called European left has become neoliberal. In the United States, one of the only political figures who could legitimately garner support at the polls from the Occupy movement is Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont. Some are pushing him to challenge President Obama in the Democrat primaries. Even though President Obama is more or less a shoe in, someone like Senator Sanders would be the best option for Occupy to have a voice during the 2012 election cycle.

Although the United States is usually described as having a two-party political system, it has been in the reality of policies, both foreign and domestic, a one party system, with minute nuances between Democrats and Republicans, for the past 30 years. In this uniform political landscape, there are really only two worthwhile exceptions which do not belong to what has morphed a democracy into an oligarchy/plutocracy: Senator Sanders and Representative Ron Paul. Ron Paul is tracking remarkably well in the GOP primaries, but even though his campaign is actively trying to tap into a potential Occupy voting block, he is unlikely to get any real momentum going in his attempt.

Some view the Occupy movement, both in the United States and Europe, as “vague and lacking focus, despite good intentions.” Indeed the scope of the Occupy movement is wide in its critiques of neoliberalism, war, inequality, corporate-controlled globalization, and concentration of wealth. But the wide scope of Occupy should not be confused with a lack of focus. The Occupy movement is a “big tent” encompassing a lot of causes, but the essence of it is rather simple: ideologically, Occupy can be defined as an anti-neoliberalism and anti-corporatism movement fighting for the rights and interests of the 99 percent.

But Occupy cannot be simply reduced to a movement for debating ideologies. Instead, the Occupy movement is about redefining moral and ethical principles. Philosophically and morally it is a fight against oppression, for equality and social justice. The Occupy movement is not trying to reinvent the wheel either. Occupy gets its core direction from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which has non-discrimination as its fundamental principle. Human beings, whereever they are, shouldn’t have their rights denied based on class, race, gender, disability and religion.

Occupy is about leveling the global playing field in human affairs to give the many real say and power over the few. Occupy is about defining a real democracy where the long forgotten and mainly never applied  motto of the French revolution “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” would be implemented and not just be mere lip service and make believe. Occupy is about challenging the failed world order of corporatism and neoliberalism. For the Occupy movement, we are all Egyptians, and we are all the 99 percent fighting to define a better world without oppression, war, famine, inequality and gross mismanagement of our collective resources.

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