Part of Occupy Wall Street's comeback plan involves something called the 99% Spring, an activist training initiative to prep protesters for the May 1st "general strike," backed mostly by MoveOn.org. The 99% Spring's links to established progressive organizations has led occupiers to worry about being enfolded in the effort to re-elect President Obama, and has prompted Adbusters, the magazine whose call for a Wall Street occupation ignited the movement last fall, to announce that the very soul of Occupy is in danger.
A post on Adbusters' blog yesterday asks, "Can we co-opt the co-opters? Should we simply ignore the 99% Spring? Or do we need a more visceral response?"
I get the desire for ethical purity in a progressive movement. But I'd argue that ethical purity is what resulted in the Occupy movement winding up as nothing more than a late-winter scuffle over the right to post tents in public spaces. You can't win a battle if you're picking fights with every side, as Ron Paul fans are learning right now. I think if Occupy wants to make a difference, they'd do better by supporting Barack Obama at the top of the ticket and also promoting a slate of more progressive politicians in local races. They also need strong leadership that understands the importance of compromise while still keeping the core message pure.
The early days of Occupy were an inarguable success. Occupy got the message out to the masses. Economic injustice is now a major issue. But seizing banks and camping in downtown squares is a first, attention-getting step. That kind of behavior isn't going to make a difference in the long run, and failing to support a candidate because he's imperfect is frankly stupid. It's better to get behind that candidate and make sure he knows he owes you once he wins. That's how politics works.
Of course, it has been argued before that sellout hacks like me are the reason why the world is so shitty. What do you think?