“Jail time for corporate crime, Jail time for Jon Corzine.”
This was the chant that arose from the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park on Wednesday when Carl Mayer, public defender and long-time Ralph Nader Green Party supporter, addressed the crowds at Occupy Wall Street. Mayer addressed the current MF Global bankruptcy scandal, the political climate, and his hopes of the OWS movement's becoming a viable third party in the future.
Mayer, who's best known for butting heads against the Democratic party on behalf of Nader, has been a long-time advocate for the rights of alternative political parties. For Mayer, OWS is no exception.
Comparing the bankers targeted by OWS to the apartheid regime in South Africa, Mayer declared that the goals of OWS were no less significant than South Africa’s own fight to battle injustices. Like the eventual success of the anti-apartheid movement, Mayer said he believed that the goals of the occupiers could too be realized. Like the internal uprising against white supremacy and minority rule that marked the apartheid era, Mayer believed the occupiers faced a similar battle against the Wall Street plutocracy that he believes runs our nation’s current political and social system.
“I Googled the number of hits for President Barack Obama. The number was 198 million hits,” Mayer said to the crowd of occupiers on in chilly lower Manhattan. “Then I Googled the number of hits for Occupy Wall Street. The number of hits was 500 million. The world is watching you.”
Mayer compared the occupiers to the Jacksonians of the 1830’s and the progressives of the 19th century, and called the Occupy Wall Street movement as “uniquely American” as these past movements. Forming a new party as a reaction to political unrest and social injustices is no new concept, but rather a long-standing tradition in American political discourse, Mayer said. He cited the Constitution, and the rights of citizens to speak and assemble, as one of the driving factors in this tradition of citizens' standing up and creating a new party in American politics. Just as the Jacksonians and progressives were born out of social unrest, the current climate has given way to not only an historic movement, but perhaps, a new third party.
Mayer cited OWS as a movement primarily set forth to abolish corporate feudalism (what he explained as the control of democracy by corporations), adding that he hoped that one day history will see this as none other than a movement in line with other American revolutionary experiences. Mayer likened the movement to the 19th century, when a third party was created to abolish slavery. It is in that light that Carl Mayer cited that the goals of Occupy Wall Street could one day be translated into a strong third party.
“I hope someday there will be an Occupy Wall Street Party,” Mayer bellowed to the cheering crowd. “I hope someday there will be a group of Occupy Wall Street organizers continuing to fight for a more just country.”
Should we treat occupy Wall Street in the third party tradition, or is the movement just a blip in the national dialogue?
Photo Credit: Adam Jones, Ph.D.