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“Getting Involved”: Americans Elect vs. the October 2011 DC Occupation

Getting Involved, the October 2011 DC Occupation version:

In preparation for the occupation of Freedom Plaza starting on October 6th (see, join organizers, educators, and concerned citizens for two participatory evening workshops exploring the strategic power of nonviolence and its applications to our social change efforts. You are welcome to attend one or both workshops. They are free to the public, however donations are welcomed. Register by emailing or with "Nonviolence Workshop #__" (including the workshop(s) you plan to attend) in the subject line.

NONVIOLENCE WORKSHOP 1: Date: Tuesday, October 4th
Time: 6:30pm - 9:30pm
Location: George Washington University (exact location to be confirmed upon registration)
Sponsored by the GWU Peace Studies Program
We will explore:
What is nonviolence
How are people around the world utilizing nonviolent action to wage struggle and exercise power
What strategies and tactics can nonviolent movements learn from those who've struggle nonviolently in the past
How does the upcoming occupation of Freedom Plaza fit into the rich tradition of nonviolence

NONVIOLENCE WORKSHOP 2: Date: Wednesday, October 5th
Time: 6:30-9:30pm
Location: American University (exact location to be confirmed upon registration)
Sponsored by the AU International Peace and Conflict Program and the Center for Peacebuilding and Development
We will explore:
Review of the first workshop
How to approach social change work from a social-emotional stance of compassion and non-violence in the face of institutional violence and power imbalances
Practical nonviolent responses to challenging situations that may arise during grassroots protests such as the occupation of Freedom Plaza


Part of the media strategy for October2011 demonstration in DC involves asking people to be the media rather than waiting for corporate media to sit up and take notice. So Kevin Zeese of October2011 asked me to do a post on how to livestream video with a smartphone and embed it in a blog post....

Occupy San Francisco -- part of the nationwide occupation movement

People from all over the country are headed to DC right now for the Freedom Plaza occupation, and Kevin says that among them is a group of grandmothers who are walking here from West Virginia. I hope that they and the other October2011 protesters, as well as the OccupyWallStreet protesters and everyone taking part in anti-oligarchical protests around the world, will try to livestream their adventures...

Getting Involved, the 501c4 corporate Americans Elect version:


Delegate and Campus Leaders are the cornerstones of Americans Elect. As a Leader, you will:

Recruit family, friends and community members to become Americans Elect delegates

Work towards specific recruitment goals as part of our Project 500 grassroots initiative

Arrange meet-ups, mini-campaigns and other events in your area or on your campus

Receive materials, support and guidance from Americans Elect to help you in your work

Win prizes and grants for your efforts...


If you want to be more involved, but can’t commit to a role as a Delegate Leader or Campus Leader, then you can still help:

Encourage friends and family to sign up for Americans Elect by talking to them about it, sending emails, and posting links to on Facebook and Twitter

Host a meet-up at your house or in your community – or attend one nearby

Post an Americans Elect sign in your yard, put a bumper sticker on your car, or wear an AE t-shirt with pride

Remember, no act is too small. Everything you do to help spread the word about Americans Elect makes a difference.

Which form of getting involved is the sort of getting involved you’d rather get involved with?

13 thoughts on ““Getting Involved”: Americans Elect vs. the October 2011 DC Occupation”

  1. Tom says:

    This is what’s known as co-opting – find a bunch of people doing something and sway it toward your particular version. American’s Elect, like almost everything i can think of with “America” in its name, is total bullshit and should be completely ignored, if not downright condemned. These AE people are like the insurance industry and business school ideology – they wedge their way between people doing something so they can make money off of both ends of it. In this case the money is chasing power (which of course will turn around and reward them with beneficial legislation).

    1. J. Clifford says:

      But, you know what the good news is? The good news is that it’s the occupy movement that’s been more successful in getting people involved.

      Americans Elect has to pay most of its people to be involved in its effort. The occupy movement is made up of people who are giving of what they have freely, sacrificing comfort and personal resources to be there.

  2. J. Clifford says:

    You know, the fact that the October 6 Freedom Plaza occupation plaza is a genuine grassroots movement in which people are volunteering and donating supplies and their bodies for a difficult demonstration of political will, compared to the Americans Elect effort, which is a top-down, secretive effort centered in corporate offices and paid for, as far as we know, with hedge fund money, makes the choice clear to me.

    I chose Option A. I will be in Freedom Plaza.

  3. Lee Mortimer says:

    This is really being presented as a false choice. There is no reason that people can’t be involved in both efforts–the “Occupy movement” and Americans Elect.

    The Occupy movement is a very encouraging development. It is an example of direct democracy. People are coming together to dramatize and make known our demands for a redress of economic injustices. We can support the movement and hope it will continue to gain momentum. It is certainly needed and long overdue.

    Americans Elect could be an opportunity for electoral action. Sure, there is a lot we don’t know about AE. And some good questions are being asked. But we won’t really know AE’s potential unless we keep an open mind. Right now, there’s not a lot AE is doing beyond the nuts and bolts of gaining ballot access. Once that is accomplished, we can evaluate the next phase–an online convention in June to nominate a presidential ticket.

    At that point, if it shows promise, we will have an additional choice on the 2012 ballot. If AE doesn’t improve our choices, we can drop back to the existing options. There’s no reason the Occupy movement and Americans Elect can’t complement each other. The aroused citizens who are fueling the Occupy movement can also participate in Americans Elect.

    1. J. Clifford says:

      Lee, the Occupy Movement is a genuine grassroots movement in opposition to corporate power.

      Americans Elect is a corporate creation using public relations methods financed by hedge fund profits in an attempt to co-opt grassroots frustrations.

      How are these two compatible?!?

  4. Lee Mortimer says:

    J–I have acknowledged there are legitimate questions about Americans Elect that need to be answered. But the fact that Americans Elect has corporate involvement–even a lot of it–doesn’t mean something worthwhile can’t come from what AE is doing.

    “Occupy” and AE are very different. “Grassroots” means different things to different people. Occupy is an example of something spontaneous that percolates from the bottom up. The people leading AE might consider “grassroots” to mean something new and different from existing processes (like their online convention)–but not necessarily bottom up.

    A genuine democracy movement cannot emerge as long as the two-party stranglehold on elections remains in place. Only when that duopoly structure is removed can genuinely democratic elections occur. Right now that structure is too entrenched to be brought down by popular enthusiasm alone. There was plenty of popular enthusiasm behind Ralph Nader in 2000. But it wasn’t in the right place to have a positive outcome.

    Were Occupy to transform into an electoral party, it would likely resemble and reenact the Nader outcome–splitting the progressive vote and handing victory to the Republicans. To create a viable multiparty system requires inserting a third party in the middle of the political spectrum, not at the left or right ends of the spectrum.

    AE’s stated goal of nominating a “centrist ticket” could serve a longer-term purpose of facilitating a viable multiparty system. One result of giving moderates and independents a new “centrist” home would be to push Obama and the Democrats further to the left where progressives have long wanted them to be. I don’t see why that wouldn’t be beneficial for democracy.

    AE as a new “centrist” political party may not be for people like you. (It may not be for me, either.) But I think you would feel a lot more comfortable with a Democratic Party that stopped taking its base voters and constituencies for granted, and instead acted more vigorously in their interests.

    These are reasons I think we need to keep an open mind about Americans Elect. Let’s see what comes from the effort and then decide if we should support or reject the result.

    1. Jim Cook says:

      The term “grassroots” was originated to refer to something coming up from below, Lee.

      1. Lee Mortimer says:

        “Bottom up” = “Up from below.” Yes? No? Close? Was my choice of imagery your only disagreement with this comment, Jim?

        1. Jim Cook says:

          “The people leading AE might consider ‘grassroots’ to mean something new and different from existing processes (like their online convention)–but not necessarily bottom up.”

  5. Lee Mortimer says:

    . . . And you think AE would consider “grassroots” to mean “up from below/bottom up” in the same way the Occupy Movement might define the term?

    1. Dove says:

      Those groups don’t get to define the terms.

    2. J. Clifford says:

      I think Americans Elect would use the term “grassroots” as a term if its focus group results indicated that that would help Americans Elect promote the plan that its corporate leaders have already decided upon.

      1. Lee Mortimer says:

        So, J., are there other parts of my answer to your question that you agree/disagree with?

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