We must keep the public on our side
By Rich Cohen
In a previous opinion piece, I suggested that the Occupy Movement will likely hit a wall if it doesn’t link its street dissent to the ballot box.
Protest and disruption alone will never put this country in our hands. It is imperative that we move away from a mindset of challenging power to one of taking power by changing our focus from pressuring the powers that be to becoming the powers that be. But how?
First and foremost, we must keep the public on our side by going beyond agitating and resisting, tactics that in the end can only get us a watered down outcome. To remain credible our movement must lay out a believable plan to the solutions and vision we propose, a path that is perceived as doable, and that remains nonviolent!
The power center of our country is the U. S. Congress, controlled by Wall Street majorities in the House and Senate. To replace their majorities with ours we must win 218 seats in the House and a 60 seat filibuster majority in the Senate. Without those numbers there is no government of, by and for the people.
Now is the time for the Occupy Movement to call for a national summit to target the needed 218 + 60 congressional seats, and that puts Occupy candidates in each targeted state. The goal is to mobilize victories for congressional and senate seats, that over time, inch us up to the majorities needed.
Occupy supporters should use the next several years to build the kind of relationships and public trust to give our candidates credibility and election victories.
The decisive winning factor in each election will be our message, one that is compelling, motivating and can be heard and trusted over the corporate bullhorn. It must go beyond jobs to a deeper more visceral appeal that can actually get us to those jobs and to governing authority.
In my view no message is potentially more impacting and inspiring than speaking directly to who we are as Americans. We are literally born into ownership of this democracy. We, not Wall Street, are the source of power in the United States with an inherited birthright to govern. That means reclaiming and controlling what we own by asserting our ownership authority, and affirming, that never again will Wall Street have our obedience.
To acquire a pride of ownership mindset, we need to review our cherished documents (Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, etc.) that define and guide us back to our American core. There we find the four chambers of the American heart –democracy, justice, equality and freedom that bless us with an authentic patriotism elevating the “general welfare” over selfish individualism.
American revolutionaries Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine urged us to reclaim our spirit of rebellion, without which democracy cannot survive, and reminded us that “we have it in our power to begin the world over again.” Together, We The People can make it so!
Rich Cohen is a local activist and Occupy Portland organizer.