Iowa: The People’s Caucus
As caucus craziness reached its peak in
However, Mayor Frank Cownie offered Occupy DSM a new space, which has since hosted a tent city that has persevered into the
With the “People’s Caucus,” activists took advantage of the national spotlight by hosting a week of teach-ins and nonviolent direct actions focused on Occupy issues, most prominently the need to get corporate money out of politics. In addition to scoring many press hits in the local media, Occupy DSM’s actions made the national nightly news and the New York Times.
The Tuesday night opening event for the People’s Caucus was designed to mirror the experience of attending one of the actual caucuses. After some welcoming speakers, participants were given a chance to offer resolutions to the assembly. Unlike in the Democratic or Republican caucuses, these resolutions were not voted up or down for possible inclusion in a state party platform. But the process gave a wide range of speakers—including Occupy representatives from Iowa City, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Oakland, and Seattle—a chance to speak out in favor of things like nullifying the Citizens United ruling, reversing the National Defense Appropriations Act’s violations of civil liberties, “dismantling the U.S. military empire,” and ending Bush-era tax cuts.
While mainstream caucus participants ordinarily form “preference groups” to represent their pick of a candidate at the state party convention, in the People’s Caucus, participants instead formed “dispreference groups,” choosing candidates they’d most like to protest.
Another action was carried out by the anti-Mitt Romney group who attempted to occupy Romney’s campaign headquarters. Office staffers (who sheepishly removed the Romney banner from their front window during the action) locked out the crowd of approximately 60 protesters. Seven people were arrested at the office door, while others worked on building a cardboard pipeline to Wells Fargo, a bank that has pumped a steady stream of money into Romney’s campaign. Police arrested three additional protesters as they entered the Wells Fargo branch.
When activists first announced that they would “Occupy the Caucuses,” Branstad helped stoke fears that dissidents would interrupt the democratic process. However, People’s Caucus delegates emphasized that they would instead be targeting campaign offices, demanding that the candidates be transparent in disclosing their big business contributions.
Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs gave the opening welcome for the People’s Caucus on Tuesday night, saying: “We have gathered here tonight because the political system in the
“Now is the time for us to lead, for the people of the
Mark Engler is a freelance journalist based in Philadelphia and a senior analyst with Foreign Policy In Focus, a network of foreign policy experts. He is author of How to Rule the World: The Coming