I'm becoming more and more convinced that the left's collective crying out for strong, effective leadership is going to have to come from the leaderful (not leaderless) movement of young people across America. The fellow Occupiers I've marched and protested with in Houston, Madison and Denver are all well-spoken, optimistic, visionary leaders in their own communities. None of us agree with those who represent us in office. We all agree government could work for the people if corporations were purged from the political process.
The Tea Party began as another leaderless movement that took to the streets to protest a lot of the same things we protest: A bought government, bailouts of the banks that put us in an economic freefall, and a government overly concerned with intruding into citizens' personal space and lives. Their massive rallies and marches attracted the media attention needed to change the narrative, then they proceeded to take over a major political party and make it bend to their every radical whim. OWS could do the same thing, and do it ten times better, even without the billions in corporate backing Tea Party ideologues like Scott Walker have at their disposal.
The 1 percent's source of power is the excessive, poverty-inducing wealth they've amassed for the last 30 years. They used to spend their wealth on racehorses and yachts. Now they spend it on buying elections. By taking away the 1 percent's excessive wealth, we take away their ability to buy elections. When we get corporate money out of politics, we weed out the politicians who were put in place by corporate money. By removing those politicians and putting in those who will work for us, we simultaneously scare those remaining in office to adhere to our agenda or lose their jobs, and we begin to fundamentally change the system for the better.
The 1 percent has always been in charge of government, but their unprecedented influence on our politics was largely brought about by the early 2010 Citizens United ruling and the Tea Party's electoral sweep of Congress, also in 2010. Since November 2010, obstruction has become a daily matter of course, and a radical agenda of deregulating the industries threatening the environment and the banks that caused our current depression is the only one those in power will accept. If the Tea Party continues their electoral successes the complete redistribution of wealth from the bottom 99% to the top 1% will be inevitable. The deficit will continue to rise as we continue to cut taxes for the 1% and wage endless war, and with a rising deficit will come an elimination of middle-class jobs and every existing social-welfare program and safety net for the 99%.
Democratic leaders in office are showing signs of caving on extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans, and putting the cap at $1 million instead of $250,000. Like many others, I'm disgusted by the cowardice of the Democratic Party and the great many Democrats who are blind servants of the status quo. The Occupy Wall Street movement represents the radical change needed in society, and could easily defeat corporate Democrats in primaries with a refreshing dose of economic populism that the establishment figureheads are too afraid to approach. And, once we take over one party, we can pave the way to taking over our government using all parties as our vehicle.
Occupy Wall Street's bold positions on civil rights, as seen in the demonstrations against the NDAA's indefinite detention policies and the invasive CISPA and SOPA legislation, could even be used against the Republican incumbents in primaries who voted for such authoritarian policies. Left-wing third parties, like the Working Families Party, are already gaining traction, taking over city councils and even putting candidates in state and federal offices. The Green Party is re-inventing itself as a populist force with a bold, sweeping vision for a new society with Dr. Jill Stein at its helm.
I agree with the OWS activists who say electoral politics isn't the solution. By itself, electing good candidates to office won't be enough to bring about all the changes necessary to make society sustainable for everyone. But kicking the worst offenders out of office and putting our people in is a hell of a start. The 2014 midterms are our year. If you don't like any of the candidates in office and don't feel represented by anyone running for office, run for office yourself. Don't let the proto-fascists run our government if you don't want them to. You can still vote: they haven't taken that away yet.
Carl Gibson, 25, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Old Lyme, Connecticut. You can contact Carl at firstname.lastname@example.org, and listen to his online radio talk show, Swag The Dog, here.