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Sargent begins: "One of the enduring questions about Occupy Wall Street has been this: Can the energy unleashed by the movement be leveraged behind a concrete political agenda and push for change that will constitute a meaningful challenge to the inequality and excessive Wall Street influence highlighted by the protests? A coalition of labor and progressive groups is about to unveil its answer to that question. Get ready for 'Occupy Congress.'"

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, center, speaks to SEIU members before the Senate Bill 5 protest in Columbus, Ohio, 03/01/11. (photo: Mike Elicson/SEIU International)
SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, center, speaks to SEIU members before the Senate Bill 5 protest in Columbus, Ohio, 03/01/11. (photo: Mike Elicson/SEIU International)

Next Up: 'Occupy Congress'

By Greg Sargent, The Washington Post

19 November 11


Occupy Wall Street: Take the Bull by the Horns


ne of the enduring questions about Occupy Wall Street has been this: Can the energy unleashed by the movement be leveraged behind a concrete political agenda and push for change that will constitute a meaningful challenge to the inequality and excessive Wall Street influence highlighted by the protests?

A coalition of labor and progressive groups is about to unveil its answer to that question. Get ready for "Occupy Congress."

The coalition - which includes unions like SEIU and CWA and groups like the Center for Community Change - is currently working on a plan to bus thousands of protesters from across the country to Washington, where they will congregate around the Capitol from December 5-9, SEIU president Mary Kay Henry tells me in an interview.

"Thousands of people have signed up to come to Capitol Hill during the first week in December," Henry says, adding that protesters are invited to make their way to Washington on their own, too. "We're figuring out buses and transportation now."

One idea under consideration - pending various permitting and other logistical issues - is to have a series of tents set up on the lawn outside the Capitol, each representing a state, with the number of unemployed in each state prominently displayed. But the optics are still being worked out.

One goal of the protests, Henry says, is to pressure Republicans to support Obama's jobs creation proposals. More generally, the aim is to highlight Congress's misguided obsession with the deficit and overall inaction on unemployment.

"We're taking about it as an effort to take back the Capitol," Henry says. "It would be great if we could build pressure that goes beyond the jobs act."

Of course, Occupy Wall Street is distinguished by its organic, bottom-up nature and its critique of both parties' coziness with Wall Street. Does a coordinated effort by labor and liberal groups to channel the movement's energy into pressuring one party risk compromising the essence of what's driven the protests?

Henry said she wasn't worried about that happening, noting that Occupy Wall Street had created a "framework" - which she described as "we are the 99 percent" - within which such activities would fit comfortably.

"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."

But Henry added she salutes Occupy Wall Street for finding fault with both parties, adding: "We agree that on domestic social programs, we have not won the day with either party. And we are applying pressure to both."

Occupy Congress! your social media marketing partner


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+12 # Karlus58 2011-11-19 12:39
..when will the 99% get their own folks elected in order to effect the change!...Play the game as they do!...
+14 # iris 2011-11-19 12:40
why was the Micheal Moore clip on federal govt. aiding the evictions.. from the Keith Oberman show deleted?
+19 # Michael_K 2011-11-19 13:49
Because it too obviously implicates O'Bama and his administration in a conspiracy to deny the people's First Amendment guarantee and doing so in a racketeering pattern of wrongdoing.

Apparently there are still too many here unwilling to admit O'Bama is a collaborator.
+25 # John Locke 2011-11-19 12:49
I think Occupy Congress is an excellant Idea, by shear numbers, if we can get about 50 or 100,000 protestors to be there and "lobby" congress like, do what the people want or face being expelled from congress next election, we can make the point and win the discussion, but we need to present them with an agenda that goes beyond this bill, the agenda must also demand an end to corporate lobbying and bribery...and set term limits for members...and also that SS and Medicare are off the table, they are to be left alone...and finally tax the rich... and that includes the Koch Brothers and the members of congress themselves...
+8 # unclewags 2011-11-19 17:56
Yes... We must demand an end to the corporate lobbying which the members of Congress "bottom feed" upon; the millionaire comgress persons of both political Parties. We need to actively endorse and campaign Progressive Independents with the noble character traits and principles the Honorable Senator Sanders, VT. As an individual who, now regretably, had organized a local Veterans for Obama phone bank and worked my gonads off for his campaign, I can safely say that he has disappointed, and indeed has alienated millions of former supporters. Obama's has reneged on every campaign rhetorical promise that he implied to the American voters. He has unconscionably delivered to Wall Street more than WS could ever have imagined that they could extort from this "two bit" Chicago politician. Shame, Shame on you for fooling us once. If you should succeed in fooling us twice.... "Shame on us"
+4 # MHAS 2011-11-20 23:32
Set term limits and we do not get to re-elect people like Dennis Kucinich, Pete Stark, and Bernie Sanders. Term limits just mean we replace one tool of the corporations and banks with another one. It is undemocratic and does not deal with the deeper problems of economic inequality and the overwhelming power of the banks and major corporations, including those from outside the country. Given how deeply corrupt the whole thing is we are in for a huge battle and term limits is not going to help us one way or the other, so far as I can see. You could say a lame duck might refuse to do the bidding of the rich since they no longer need their money but the replacement is going to be bought off. And the lame duck may be looking to go through a revolving door in any case. Or may simply believe in neoliberalism pay off or not...Do you really want a Congress that is always full of neophytes?
-1 # Michael_K 2011-11-21 20:05
Terrible idea... it's a blatant attempt by the Democratic Party to co-opt the movement for short-term electoral gains... nothing more
+13 # John Locke 2011-11-19 12:59
The Protestors Might even sing this song in unison...

America: I Grieve For Thee
© 2009 Jack Ferm ~ All Rights Reserved

My country 'tis of Thee ..Land of lost liberty ...For Thee I grieve.

Land where my fathers died ...Bring back Thy pilgrims' pride ...From every mountainside ...Let freedom ring!

My native country be ...Now aristocracy
No longer free.

I love Thy rocks and rills ...Thy woods and templed hills ...My heart with sadness fills ...For Thee I grieve.

God, let Thy righteous be ...Heard loud from sea to sea ...Fearless in Thee.

Grants of immunity ...That each one fails to see ...Leaders have forsaken Thee...For Thee I grieve.

Let truth swell with ease ...Carried on freedoms breeze ...Inspiring all.

Noble and just shall rise ...Against all tyrants lies ...Integrity shall shine
Let freedom ring!

Mortals of every kind ...Speak with your open mind ...Fear not the truth.

Strong in our unity ...Standing triumphantly ...Against all odds we’ll be ...Let freedom ring!

Our fathers' God to Thee ...Author of liberty ...To Thee we pray.

Lost in the dark of night ...Bring back Thy freedom's light ...Protect us with Thy might...Let freedom ring!
-11 # Todd Williams 2011-11-19 14:05
+4 # unclewags 2011-11-19 18:02
Exquisitely expressed, John.
Thank you. It could be a magnificent theme when set to music by some popular balladeer, country, or light rock singer.
Like, how about John Mellencamp! Or anyone else who would patriotically step up tp the plate.
0 # MHAS 2011-11-20 23:35
He rewrote the words to "My Country 'Tis of Thee/ God Save the Queen...that's the music.
+20 # George Kennedy 2011-11-19 13:14
Occupy Congress is just a natural outgrowth of the OWS Movement. OWS was the catalyst for direct citizen action; there is room for every concerned American wanting to make a small contribution to the effort to bring about greater income equality, more fairness, and the possibility of a better future. Occupy Congress is democracy in action taking it to the Beast at the center of the ills in our society.
0 # Michael_K 2011-11-21 20:07
no, we can't allow the Democratic Party to co-opt the movement to cynically use it during an electoral cycle, then drop it like yesterday's paper, much like O'Bama did to us last election. We won't get fooled again!
+17 # lin96 2011-11-19 13:17
Would it be possible to get signed petitions to begin auditing Congress beginning with the Super Committee to see how much money they have taken from corporate America and to determine, on the basis of lobbying money, if they are qualified to make decisions for ALL of the people or if they're loyalty would be slanted based on the lobbying money involved in their decisions.
+7 # unclewags 2011-11-19 18:12
All Congressional "Bottom Feeders" should be pressured via public outcrys to recuse themselves from voting on issues in which they have a personal vested interest. Then, for heaven's sake, only a handful of "clean" elected members would be eligible to vote. The problem then would be that there would be less than a quorum for the calling of a vote. Well,if those "clean" members could at least introduce a resolution, maybe the others with "blood on their hands" could be publicly exposed.
Just a thought.
+17 # Jim Buckley 2011-11-19 13:19
Occupy Congress is a great idea. Taking over Congress is even a better idea. And, if it takes a while, at least it's warmer in DC than in NY. Let's stay until the job is completed!
-13 # gentle 2011-11-19 13:43
the Center for Responsive Politics says:
Service Employees International Union Pac spent $259,000
Communications Workers of America Pac spent $492,541
Used to be when a politician was bought they stayed bought. Now OWS wants to get "in bed" with Pacs? Do the job, that their money didn't do for them? Tread very cautiously OWS.
+10 # wrodwell 2011-11-19 15:47
In order to be truly effective, the 99%ers need to not just occupy Congress but throw the bums out. Ditto with the Supreme Court. A mere occupation does not address the fundamental problem of systemic corruption. If lobbying is not banned and the present irredeemably rotten and corrupt political system scuttled so it can be renewed and made healthier, then anything that falls short of these necessary goals is a waste of time.
+8 # unclewags 2011-11-19 18:25
True ... But not entirely. OWS can be a successful forum for the awakening of the masses; informing the electorate that they are NOT emtirely impotent. Arousing them from their slumber and nightmares with the dawning of a new day; a day bursting with opportunities to harness our vigor and energies to "Throw the Bums Out" by supporting progressive independents of the caliber of the Honorable Bernie Sanders of VT.
Say, middle class compatriots, are you aware that the "Bottom Feeders" are paid about $375 thousand dollars from your tax dollars and still "pig out" on K Street gratuities. The hour is approaching when the OWS should be settling on a uniform effort to "throw the bums out".
+15 # Susan W 2011-11-19 15:48
Occupy Congress is a good idea only if they occupy ALL of Congress! Quit letting the Ds off the hook! They are as complicit in the ruination of the Republic as the Rs and as long as they can keep up their drivel about the lesser of two evils nothing will change.
+7 # unclewags 2011-11-19 18:36
Absolutely, Susan. In fact, a priority might well be to "give the bums' rush" to the Dems. They, as well as the repugnicants, crave and cash in on the perks offered by K Street and Wall Street. They have all deceitfully promised to be representative for the people's socio-economic interests. They have in fact, sold their selves to the "money changers" O K & WS, either before or after receiving their constituents' vote of confidence. s.
+8 # pernsey 2011-11-19 16:36
+17 # Kayjay 2011-11-19 16:40
Occupying the halls of Congress is an effective way to build momentum towards change. The anti-Vietnam protests in the late sixties had an impact on LBJ's White House experience. In fact, at times he was a "prisoner" in that house. And he didn't have the stomach to run to re-election, in part due to the howling mobs outside his Oval Office windows. The key.... is to get more people involved in today's occupation. The sheer numbers will make an impact. Cause it's beyond time to clean house in Congress. More new faces with NO corporate backing would be a good start. And yet just a start...... perseverance is vital!
+8 # unclewags 2011-11-19 18:46
KayJay ... You are A OK. The OWS and OWS sympathizers neesd to get a snowball rolling now which will grow with enthusiastic momentum to "Out Shout" the powers seeking to place Obama into the WH for a second term. That snowball needs to start forming now so that it will hit the DNC loke an avalance! Mr. Obama, for whom I had campaigned "hands on" in '08, must experience the regrets known to LBJ while LBJ was a virtual prisoner" in his own house.
+5 # gep2 2011-11-19 16:59
We need to recruit people FROM THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT and GET THEIR NAMES ONTO THE BALLOT for the primary elections in the spring, and from there onto the ballot for the November 2012 elections. See my Facebook page for OCCUPY BALLOTS!
+5 # unclewags 2011-11-19 19:00
Yes... Yes... Yes... We must recruit persons from the OWS movement for the primaries and vote for them in the general elections. And OWS which surely must realize the opportunististi c
diversionary distraction tactics of the repuGnicants highlighting issues of gay marriage, abortion, religious symbols in the public square, etc., MUST alert the electorate that WS & L Street are "playing those fiddles while the republic is burning. Wake up citizens... remember how successfully, with the propaganda machine of Goebels, the Brown Shirts, and the Krupp Industries of Nazi Germany, seduced and subdued the working and middle class citizens of their fatherland. Homeland Security sounds to much like an echo!
+6 # gep2 2011-11-19 20:13 It's surprisingly easy, at least here in Texas, to get a name onto the ballot... but we have to work FAST, the deadline in Texas to declare as a candidate is Dec 15th this year!!
+10 # Nel 2011-11-19 17:36
Let's do it, OCCUPY (corrupted) CONGRESS.
Let's see how many senators and congress persons join us.
+16 # guywithactualbrain 2011-11-19 17:45
Think of Iceland!
The people kicked down the doors of the Thing - parliament/cong ress - threw the bums out on the street, and proceeded to elect a new one from their own ranks. NO incumbents. Not one. Then, the first order of business was to renounce the phony Banker's debt. Funny - you don't hear much about that on NBC>
+4 # in deo veritas 2011-11-19 21:04
Of course not! The dolts who care only about "reality shows" and the other tripe peddled by the networks are useful only for ratings. The networks don't have to inform only entertain to survive-for now.....
+6 # in deo veritas 2011-11-19 21:01
The focus of Occupy Congress has to be to force the scurvy crew to reinstate Glass-Steagall! This act to stop the recklessness of banks that caused the First great depression was derailed by Gingrich and Clinton before the chimp was handed the office by the Supremely Corrupt Court. Since then they have been able to operate both as commercial and investment banks recklessly speculating on deriviatives, Fredy Mac, risky mortgages to put our economy in peril The crimes they have committed could have been prevented by Glass-Steagall. There is HR1489 with an increasing number of supporters, but it must be rammed through before the damage becomes irreparable. FORCE them to do this and if Obama won't support it, he should be impeached. If this is not done- and soon-we will no longer exist as a nation-state.
+3 # Texan 4 Peace 2011-11-19 23:30
"Congregate AROUND the Capitol"? Why not IN it?
+1 # MHAS 2011-11-20 22:38
In my opinion, OWS should stay the hell out of electoral politics apart from direct actions like the Chicago Occupy confrontation with Scott Walker. There are hundreds of "progressive" nonprofits, PACs, unions and other organizations working within this dysfunctional system and they have had only a modicum of success in the last decades...most of it limiting damage here and there on an issue by issue des on a mutilated body. My best hope is that OWS continues being fundamentally radical/alterna tive in its "Be the Change You Want" philosophy and practices and continues to teach, learn, train, proliferate and grow...and most importantly that it remains affirming at the same time as it is nonviolently militant, steadfast and enduring. Remain on the outside which at this point is where you can find most of the 99%. Form alliances but do not get co-opted in the process. It seems to me that is what is required if you/we are to help heal and transform this faltering and fractured nation into a more economically and politically egalitarian democracy (now both dirty words) with an environmentally sustainable way of life ... Ecosystems are collapsing and the game is over if we do not wake up.
+3 # MHAS 2011-11-20 23:08
Meant to say, OWS has shown itself to be very nimble and creative...real ly smart.
It will be a challenge to sustain this. I am not at all sure it is good for OWS that unions are using their language without also embracing their model. Maybe OWS could teach unions direct democracy...At the rally and march on Thursday, it was evident that students were well aware of how to use the mic check, for instance, but the union members and their speakers had no idea... Maybe training is in order if they intend to engage in joint actions.
On the other hand...I am from a union family and support unions in principle but they are too tied to the Dems for their own good. That's a pitfall for OWS.

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