18 November 2011

Rally for jobs reveals emerging attempt to direct Occupy movement

Even from behind the message was clear: America Wants to Work.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—“Invest in Infrastructure” was the theme of the rally Thursday afternoon organized largely by MoveOn.org, the N.M. Federation of Labor, and the AFL-CIO, though some of the hundred or demonstrators who turned out at the intersection of Paseo del Norte and I-25 may have had additional motivations, like the two-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street and the eviction of OWS protesters earlier this week by New York City police.

The police presence was heavy but quiet. At least two dozen marked vehicles assembled in the nearby Target parking lot. Officers in paramilitary gear stood away from the crowd, while a few uniformed police walked among the protesters.

While demonstrators in Albuquerque and elsewhere across the nation were calling for jobs creation and Wall Street reform, there are indications that there may soon be an internal struggle within the grassroots movement to determine who can best harness its energy and lay claim to representing the interests of the “99%.” Nationwide efforts to “Rebuild the Dream” are being coordinated by a new alliance of liberal and progressive organizations led by MoveOn, which is perhaps best known for raising boatloads of money to support Democrats in electoral campaigns, fueling the perception among many Occupy activists that the organization is too allied to the established order to represent their call for wholesale, systemic change. The new alliance, dubbed the American DreamMovement, claims a long and diverse list of partners, including labor unions, Code Pink, the Economic Policy Institute, the Hip-hop Caucus, Move to Amend, Planned Parenthood, Brave New Films, and groups trying to influence the Democratic Party.

The American Dream Movement has developed a “contract” to rebuild the dream that consists of “10 critical steps to get our economy back on track.” Those specific policy goals, which some members of the public have been clamoring for, include more public funding for jobs and education, campaign finance reform, an end to the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich, Wall Street regulation, and an end to foreign wars.

Interestingly, Working America, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, today issued its own set of eight “demands,” which are very similar to those of American Dream Movement but exclude the call to U.S.-led wars abroad.

The battle for leadership of the young movement appears to be shaping up.

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