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Interview with the Occupation Party

On its web site, the Occupation Party calls itself “a new third party that stands in solidarity with the populist message of Occupy Wall Street.” The party condemns the violence of what it terms a “small minority” of protesters at places like Occupy Oakland. It wants to Occupy Congress, and to that end is running candidates. Members of the new party were eager to answer these preliminary questions and join the growing number of third parties sharing information through Context2012.

POLITICALCONTEXT.ORG: When and where did your party first form?

OCCUPATION PARTY: Clifton Ohio – October 2011

POLITICALCONTEXT.ORG: Is your party running candidates in the 2012 elections?

OCCUPATION PARTY: We are currently recruiting and vetting candidates in Ohio Florida and Michigan. We are always looking for more candidates in any states but these are the three we have chosen to start with.

POLITICALCONTEXT.ORG: What’s the extent and reach of your field of candidates? Will you advance national candidates–for President, Vice President, U.S. Senate, House of Representatives? Will you advance state and local candidates? Where, and for what?

OCCUPATION PARTY: At this time we are focusing on Occupying congress. We will not support or endorse any presidential candidate in this years general election. Our goal is to give voters a strong alternative in 2016 when both parties have to primary themselves and each other. We believe this will be our strongest point. Voters will see both parties when they are in full campaign mode.

POLITICALCONTEXT.ORG: What’s the process for choosing and nominating your candidates?

OCCUPATION PARTY: We’re currently working with Progressive majority which has a thorough process they use for candidate vetting and support. While we are fully able to recruit our own candidates should we find someone, we have formed an agreement with Progressive Majority in which many of our candidates are found through their run for America website.

POLITICALCONTEXT.ORG: What are the demographics of your existing base? What is your strategy for deepening your base?

OCCUPATION PARTY: Our demographics pull from the 99%. We anticipate deepening our base through outreach and letting the 99% know that there is a political alternative to the two party system.

POLITICALCONTEXT.ORG: In your opinion, what are the chief barriers to the viability and success of third parties in the United States?

OCCUPATION PARTY: The major barrier is the goal third parties typically set for themselves. While the office of the president is highly visible and important, it is the Congress that retains the real legislative power in this country. They are the primary focus of the occupation party. After all, a president who lacks the support of the Congress will achieve little. Another major barrier is the hold the two party system has on ballot access. Typically, it is far too restrictive for third parties. States such as Texas and Ohio are very good examples.

POLITICALCONTEXT.ORG: Does your party make the opening of space to alternative candidates a major part of your public message? Do you have a strategy for the opening of political space which you have laid out for voters and activists?

OCCUPATION PARTY: We are soliciting the average American to run for office.

POLITICALCONTEXT.ORG: Do you work in solidarity with other political parties?

OCCUPATION PARTY: At this time we do not officially work in solidarity with any other parties even though we find a lot of common ground with some of them. Common ground aside, our end goal does not appear to be in line with any other established third political party.

POLITICALCONTEXT.ORG: A broad, philosophical question: Why does your party exist?

OCCUPATION PARTY: Both major parties are doing a terrible job of representing the working and middle class American and so we must do it ourselves. Our party would like to see more average Americans running for office; those who build our infrastructure, educate our children, treat our sick and defend the constitution. The people who build this country should have more of a say in how it is run than those who’s only skill set is perpetual campaigning.

POLITICALCONTEXT.ORG: What else would you like our readers to know about your party?

OCCUPATION PARTY: That TOP mirrors the OWS planks:
Public Good

POLITICALCONTEXT.ORG: May we have a brief bio from the person answering these questions?

OCCUPATION PARTY: Co-chair Tyrone Givens, spokesperson for The Occupation Party, is a liberal arts major (physics) and entrepreneur as well as an OIF Veteran. He has been talking with the folks at Occupy Wall Street and the media, making television appearances, giving radio interviews, and speaking with prospective candidates in Ohio, Kentucky, and New York.

POLITICALCONTEXT.ORG: May we also have a brief bio of other leaders in your party whom our readers should know about?

OCCUPATION PARTY: Website editor Marilyn Freedman spent her teenage years watching scenes of the civil rights movement, women’s movement, and Vietnam War on television. She was stunned by the shootings at Kent State and baffled by the country’s treatment of returning Vietnam veterans. She has a PhD in experimental psychology, has edited college textbooks for 25 years, and holds a black belt in Taekwondo. She says, “I am committed to serving the communities I live in to the best of my ability. Being editor of the TOP website enables me to use what I do best–editing and writing–to serve my larger community and help repair our government.”

Co-chair Frances Arroyo, a call center director, says, “I am involved in TOP because in 2000 I was a disenfranchised voter. I simply disappeared from the roll. I had voted in the election prior to the presidential race and was able to vote in the next election without having contacted the board of elections. At the time, I was living in Broward County, Florida–home of the hanging chad. My family is from Vieques, Puerto Rico, where we were politically active and involved in removing the U.S. Navy from the island. I know how well civil disobedience works and have seen how a small group of people can accomplish a lot.”

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About Matt J. Stannard

Policy Director for Commonomics USA, longtime writer, speaker, and legal & policy consultant on economic justice and public deliberation.