GOOD

Why Occupy Wall Street Needs to Take Democrats Up on Their Offer Why Occupy Wall Street Needs Democratic Friends in Congress

Occupy Wall Streeters may be angry with Washington lawmakers, but they still need to join 'em before they can beat 'em.


Occupy Wall Street has already started to shape the language of the 2012 elections. Major Democrats—including Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, and even the president—have expressed solidarity with the movement. Other members of Congress, like Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, have offered their support, too, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is promoting a petition to seek 100,000 supporters to declare their support for the protesters.

Does Occupy Wall Street want the Democrats' help? Maybe, maybe not. But they should. The growing movement needs to have friends in Washington if it wants to achieve any of its goals.


For evidence, protesters need look no further than the Tea Party, which has wielded a huge amount of influence by ushering in a wave of fresh faces on Capitol Hill. Some charismatic candidates, like Marco Rubio and Allen West, decided that the shoe fit after being labeled Tea Party darlings by the media and courted by the movement itself. (Shortly after West's incendiary speech, in which he told the audience to "grab their muskets and bayonets," went viral in 2009, he started to agree with reporters who hounded him about his Tea Party allegiances.) Others spotted an opportunity for national recognition. Michele Bachmann was known for her culture-war conservatism until she decided to launch the Senate's Tea Party caucus and run for president as a fiscal conservative. The original mastermind of the caucus, freshman senator Rand Paul, seemed to coast to victory on that merit alone. Regardless of how these politicians got to Washington, the agenda of the GOP has been partly if not largely shaped by Tea Partiers in its congressional ranks.

Of course, embracing a protest movement can also be a dealbreaker—for voters and candidates. The more extreme side of the Tea Party, the faction that waves bigoted misspelled signs and heckles the president, has turned off voters. Recent polls show that only 20 percent of the public sympathizes with Tea Party politics, while 40 percent oppose them. Many of the far-right candidates of 2010—like Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle, and Joe Miller—handed easy wins to their more moderate opponents. The majority of the Occupy Wall Street protesters are more intent on quelling corporate greed and creating jobs than overthrowing capitalism, but there's a risk of the average American watching a Fox News report, spotting an "Eat the Rich" poster, and thinking "Whoa, that's not me." Conservatives and even some moderates have ignored the movement's populist message and focused on more incoherent fringe demonstrators.

And even though some leaders and organizations are on board with Occupy Wall Street, other politicians will be more hesitant. Given how easily the "Obama is a Communist" rumors spread, some candidates may squirm in their seats over the movement's unabashed empathy with socialism. And joining the movement isn't exactly a great way to raise campaign money. The Tea Party had a major leg up in this department—their definition of freedom aligned nicely with global corporations'—but that's not true of Occupy Wall Street. As one Wall Street protester deftly pointed out, more than 90 percent of Congressional elections depend on who has the most funding, making it an uphill struggle for a politician who doesn't have corporate dollars lining his pockets.

Still, if Occupy Wall Street can learn anything from the Tea Party, it's that having anti-establishment undertones doesn't preclude a movement from infiltrating the establishment. On the contrary, this is the best way to wield power and gain legitimacy. The core group of protesters cuddling up in sleeping bags on the ground Zuccotti Park reject the idea of elevating one or two leaders, but unofficial spokespeople have already appeared, and politicians will certainly follow suit. And Occupy Wall Streeters accept the premise of government help, making it easy for demonstrators to connect with lawmakers. They're not calling for Washington to butt out of their lives, they're imploring our leaders to intervene. This is a perfect opportunity to get Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin, Eric Griego, and other progressive 2012 candidates on board with their framing. Rather than being the Party of No, they'll be expected to work hard to protect 99 percent of Americans.

If Occupy Wall Street succeeds in spreading its inclusive "99 Percenters" message to Washington, it has a real chance of appealing to voters and garnering political allies. But it's not going to happen unless the movement proactively seizes this opportunity. A huge rally in the capital would help. Candidates speaking at local protests would be effective, too. Organizers need to have direct conversations with Congresspeople, and come up with solutions that easily translate to policy. The aim should shift from fat cats to the politicians who apologize for them. Occupy Wall Streeters may be angry with Washington, but they still need to join 'em before they can beat 'em.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user david_shankbone.

Articles
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Pixabay

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

Keep Reading Show less

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet