The Bangor Daily News recently editorialized against our organization’s press release that highlighted the partisan nature of the recent Blaine House “Occupy” protest in which nine protesters were arrested and a YouTube video showed another climbing up the exterior of the front of the Blaine House. Yes, it would be funny if it were not so bizarre.
Unfortunately, the BDN editorial either intentionally or unintentionally missed our fundamental message.
In a recent radio interview in Bangor I asked listeners, “Why is it that a month ago a group of ‘Occupy’ protesters was peacefully donating food at the Blaine House, and later they are climbing the building and protesting?”
The answer is simple — the Occupy Augusta group (at least in name) was hijacked by a group of partisan operatives intent on inflicting damage on a governor, and a government, which is truly working to create jobs to help Maine’s working class — the same working class that Occupy claims to be supporting.
Democratic Rep. Diane Russell of Portland was quoted in a Portland newspaper as saying about the Occupy movement, “My hope for OccupyMaine is that it will grow and it needs some institutional support.”
Russell made this statement in criticism of the OccupyMaine Portland group when it voted to reject the gift of a banner from a Democratic political action group that is dedicated to the political defeat of Gov. LePage.
A spokesperson from Occupy Augusta has also stated that the protesters who climbed the Blaine House balcony and those who were arrested were not a regular part of the Occupy Augusta group. They simply showed up with the goal of making a scene at the Blaine House.
One need look no further than the attempts by the Maine Democratic Party to co-opt the Occupy movement in Portland and then later operatives from both the Democratic and Green parties in Augusta attempting to hijack that group to realize that it is not — as the BDN editorial so cleverly put — that our organization or the governor “is like a snowman believing the sun is out to get him.”
As to the intent of the current Occupy movements and all other political movements across our state, we feel that a critical piece of our ability to govern ourselves is for the people, regardless of their politics, to be heard.
For that reason we support their right to be heard.
Rejecting crony capitalism, insider trading by elected officials, backroom deals, corruption and political “fixing” that results in policies that hurt average working Americans are not ideals that either the left or right have a patent on. On those things we can all agree — and we can demand change.
Our organization was formed to promote economic and reform policies which benefit all Maine people, not narrow groups. That philosophy may not sit well with the BDN editorial board which may wish to editorialize winners and losers in policy, but it certainly gives us a perch from which to criticize the recent actions of some who claimed to be part of Occupy and some Occupy messages that seek to pit one group of Mainers against another.
Also, when it comes to political parties attempting to co-opt groups with “institutional support” as Rep. Russell put it, one thing is crystal clear — the challenges that Maine people face in their everyday lives were created over many years by many of the same politicians who seem to want to co-opt this group.
The idea that somehow these same politicians think they can now usher in a new age of reform by riding herd on a movement whose discontent is based on the very policies they helped create is absurd.
Our budget mess in Maine resulted from their policies.
Change happens when people engage in the process, look for the truth, and demand action. The attempts by these political parties to hijack a movement and redirect the focus have nothing to do with people. It is purely politics — designed to redirect anger toward a convenient target, Gov. LePage — but not one that created the economic situation the Occupy groups are protesting.
Jason Savage is director of Maine People Before Politics.