News & Politics  
comments_image Comments

Will Occupy Wall Street Play a Role in the 2012 Election?

The all-consuming presidential election season looms. How will Occupy respond? Does it have to?

Continued from previous page


“Obviously, the presidency and presidential politics comes up in our informal discussions, but it’s not like we’re sitting around mulling over the mindless minutiae of the 2012 presidential election the way the partisans of the Republican and Democratic parties and the corporate media do,” says Frawls, a writer, musician and activist. “I personally think people accord the presidency much more power and weight than it rightfully deserves. I think it’s more important to focus on local politics and work from the bottom up rather than think about these things from the top down.”

Another member of the politics and electoral reform group has launched, which is encouraging occupiers to run for office. An occupier in Cincinnati has  created, which is primarily a vague  list of requirements that candidates would have to meet to gain support from occupiers. Neither of these efforts appear to have gained any significant following, so far.

A third working group in New York,  the political action and impact  group, is thinking about how to organize around issues that could come up in the presidential election. The group has been discussing which issues — including opposition to fracking and a Robin Hood  Tax on financial transactions — to focus on, according to member Ted Actie.

Actie says the group has 130 members involved in discussions online, but only 10 or so have been showing up at weekly in-person meetings. This week, the group is seeking to come to consensus on a particular issue or issues to pursue. The group would then bring a proposal before the general assembly to seek solidarity from Occupy Wall Street as a whole, Actie says. There has also been talk of setting up voter registration booths in Zuccotti Park.

Occupy actions may also be focused in states that play a key role in presidential politics. Occupy Des Moines, for example, is  planning “a series of events and demonstrations” leading up to the Republican caucuses to force economic justice issues on the radar.

New York Occupier Haywood Carey, who previously worked as a political consultant and organizer for Democratic and labor-affiliated campaigns, argues that the movement is too young to begin considering questions about electoral politics.

“There is an inherent distrust and disdain for politicians here,” says Carey, who has been sleeping in Zuccotti for a month. “That doesn’t mean that we don’t care about politics and what goes on in politics. We are still a movement in our infancy.”

Carey adds: “We’re going to continue doing exactly what we’re doing. Whether the media picks up on it or chooses to talk about haircuts, it doesn’t matter … The really bottom-line answer to this is we haven’t made up our minds yet. If we become a PAC and Dick Armey comes and takes our group over, I’m not going to be a part of this anymore and neither will a lot of other people.”

Justin Elliott is a Salon reporter. Reach him by email at

See more stories tagged with: