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Some Occupy protesters weary of partisan politics

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Occupy Murfreesboro marched around downtown Murfreesboro in November, before setting up its encampment on the Civic Plaza. (File Photo)

Some Occupy Murfreesboro protesters quickly distanced themselves Friday from the local Democratic Party, contending that although the support is appreciated, they do not want to be co-opted into partisan politics.

“A few people from the Democratic Party should not try to ideologically represent the entire Occupy movement,” said Matthew Hamill, who serves as a media liaison for Occupy Murfreesboro. “There are varying degrees of viewpoints, and not all of those are aligned with the Democrats.”

MTSU student Jase Short said the endorsement is “meaningless,” noting he disapproves of both parties, although for different reasons.

“This case with Occupy Wall Street and the Democratic Party nationwide is the same, and matters in Murfreesboro are no different,” said Short, who is a member of Solidarity, a student-run socialist organization. “In the case of Murfreesboro, the party is only endorsing the effort because they see it as a way out of their irrelevance.”

He said local Democrats should have remained impartial to the movement because the endorsement only solidifies the notion that political parties are only concerned with gaining more power.

“What is important for Occupy Murfreesboro is continued opposition to the two-party system’s hold on political power, here and across the nation,” Short said. “Wall Street has one party with two faces: the Democrats and Republicans alike.”

The blowback comes only days after Executive Committee member Joan Hill sponsored a resolution endorsing Occupy Murfreesboro.

Even though it passed by an overwhelming margin, some also acknowledged the decision could be considered controversial because the Occupy movement has attempted to avoid partisan politics.

“I know that the Occupy movement does not consider itself to be political, but we want to stand in solidarity with the Murfreesboro protesters,” said Hill, an education representative and attorney for United Steelworkers International. “From my perspective, I think the values that are encompassed in the Occupy Wall Street declaration are values near and dear to the hearts of Democrats.”

Specifically, party leaders expressed their continued support for the ongoing encampment at Civic Plaza, where the group has been camping out for more than a week.

“True patriotism requires a shared sacrifice,” said Justin St. Clair, chairman of the Rutherford County Democratic Party, in a press release Thursday. “Our party supports the Occupy movement because we believe that hard work and sacrifice are the keys to the American dream, not short-term greed.”

St. Clair said the party is supporting Occupy Murfreesboro because the two groups share the same goal of economic justice: Large banking institutions and corporations should not benefit too much financially, while many Americans remain unemployed.

“The goals of the Occupy movement are very diverse, some of which are socialistic and some of which are not,” said MTSU student Eric Sharp, state chair of Young Americans for Liberty, a collegiate libertarian organization.

“As far as the Democratic Party endorsing the movement,” he said, “I see that as the same thing as the Republican Party trying to take control of the Tea Party.”

John Vile, dean of the University Honors College at MTSU, said political parties often try to align themselves with groups like Occupy Murfreesboro because activists are more likely to vote.

“If people are interested enough in a cause to spend a night in a cold tent, then they are probably people (a party) can mobilize for a political issue,” Vile said, adding the Democratic Party’s endorsement would make sense in that context.

“But, I have no idea why the Democratic Party would get involved with the Occupy movement – especially given how hard it is to define what they want,” he said, noting it is usually risky for politicians to attempt adopting a movement.

Hamill said Occupy Murfreesboro protesters should not be lumped into one voting block because many distrust both parties, regardless of either’s public support.

“We don’t want to label ourselves as the Democratic Party or Republican Party,” he said, “and we definitely don’t want them to co-opt a movement just because the elections are coming up.”


Clarification: This story's headline has been updated from its original version to more accurately reflect the information included in the article.

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Democratic Party, Democrats, Eric Sharp, Jase Short, John Vile, Matthew Hamill, MTSU, Murfreesboro, Occupy Murfreesboro, Politics, Solidarity, YAL
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Members Opinions:
December 18, 2011 at 9:11am
The socialistic rhetoric of the "Occupiers" is reminiscent of the view that I and a few of my classmates shared many years ago in a 10th grade Civics class. Now, being better educated and with a heavy dose of worldly experience,I view their overdone antics as having the same negative effect as "litter" on public property. Their "message" and image have been diluted to that of an empty drink cup blowing about on the Plaza - no longer functional nor relevant
December 18, 2011 at 8:40pm
Very well expressed. I once sat out in the cold on Black Friday in a long line at Toys R Us and will never do that again. That's the closest as I've ever come to desiring something as bad as they do in expressing their message. I think they are getting good practice for when they have kids for Black Friday!

I'm glad the DP paid their fee regardless if they express that appreciation to them or agree with the DP on political issues. The DP is doing it in the right spirit of supporting our rights as Americans to protest. Thanks DP for helping these youngsters.

December 18, 2011 at 8:48pm
As the sponsor of the resolution, it was clear that as a member of the Democratic Party in Rutherford County, the values that I adhere to, reflected in the Democratic Party should mirror many of the issues of the OWS Declaration. This article has turned what "some" said on their heads, making the argument that the Occupy Movement must align its goals and values up with those of the Democrats. That is not the case and could not be further from the intent of the Resolution. As my statement and that of Chair St. Clair clearly stated, we align with them and stand in solidarity. My understanding is that although individuals in the Occupy Movement may consider themself a member of a political party, the Movement remains non-partisan. No one speaks for the movement as all positions and proposals are approved by concensus. Reading the article, the "Movement" didn't seem to reject the offer of solidarity although some individuals had opinions. Denounce was not a word ever mentioned by any of those interviewed and should not have been the lead into this article. I am not sure if those interviewed had even read the resolution passed by the RCDP. It does not attempt or assert that any effort was taken to co-opt the protests. Poor choice of words and journalism in my opinion.
December 18, 2011 at 10:10pm
@formermtnmama -

Even though I understand how you could think this is a "poor choice of words" and bad journalism, I have to disagree. There's a lot of people in the story. To me, it seems you may be more upset about the Occupy people than anything. Don't get mad at the reporter for not writing some article that only praises Democrats. It's an OBJECTIVE story. Get over it.
December 18, 2011 at 11:07pm
@formermtnmama -
In fact, I've got more respect for the Occupy protesters now because they want to remain independent. Seems to me they're keeping true to their cause. But I still think the Democrats helped the cause because they brought even more attention to the Occupy people.
December 19, 2011 at 7:04am
EXCUSE ME..."Triple T"...whoever you are...this is Jase Short. Excuse me but I certainly lived in no such home. For one, my "parents" are divorced. Yes, my father is quite wealthy...I don't see a dime of that money, with the exception of being forced to go to High School with other rich kids, I never saw any of that wealth--wealth he, as a capitalist, made via the exploitation of immigrant laborers, by the way. I never lived in his home, I lived with my mother, Rita Short, a retired public school teacher who works her ass off just to make enough to eat. Much of my life has been a strict and brutal budget. I have not had healthcare for 7 years now even though I have serious and chronic kidney issues, so calling me "1%" is insane.

FURTHER...your memory is quite off. Did you know me during the Presidential campaign of 2008? Really?! Because if you did, you might remember the endless arguments had with co-workers and friends as I defended--against all the rhetoric and sweeping emotion of the Obama campaign--strict opposition to the party and his candidacy. I have never, EVER been a Democrat. When in high school, I was a right wing conservative, bought off by erroneous concepts of the world I inherited and wrongly failed to criticize. At the end of high school I became an independent, and have been ever since. Never have I voted for, supported or told someone else to support or vote for a single Democratic Party candidate. My opposition to the party is principled, based on their track record with social movements, it is absolute in a sense that I think few others can quite appreciate.

So, whoever you are, slanderous references to a mythical past of luxury and wealth as well as fantasies of Democratic Party campaigning are way off the mark. It is unfair of you to slander someone's name in such a personal way. I would imagine Matt Hammill is in an equally problematic position with you on this.

Whoever is monitoring this on behalf of The Murfreesboro Post, why do you allow irrelevant ad hominem attacks to be levied at people on your website? It makes me quite hesitate to ever pick up that phone again when you folks call.
December 19, 2011 at 7:10am
Oh and one other issue "Triple T." Have you never heard of the fallacy of an ad hominem attack? What is said, regardless of the mouth it is said from, is what is at stake in any reasoned debate. If Hitler himself utters, "2 plus 2 equals 4" it does not become false just because the words exited Hitler's mouth. Any adult with a slight degree of self-respect ought to hold true to common sense and not make such a glaring error of judgement on a public forum, for all to see. It can be quite embarrassing to show yourself unable to distinguish between concepts and people.

Finally, there are many who supported Obama in 2008 who don't anymore and who work day and night in support of the Occupy movement, is that somehow a crime? Is it a problem to admit you were wrong and to change direction? Or is that merely a sign of maturity? There is a clear and obvious answer.
December 19, 2011 at 11:38am
@jase1912 -
Who cares about your background? It's about what you want to do with your future.

Maybe "Triple T" is jealous...
December 19, 2011 at 7:28pm
As long as we are slaves to the two-headed, Republican-Democratic monster that runs this country, protests like this are a tempest in a teapot.
Mainstream party politics is entertainment, not democracy.
December 20, 2011 at 7:06am
@ jase 1912...way to stand up for yourself! Much respected. Why didn't you guys just pay the fees instead of ignoring them and getting fined? It would seem your group would've been large enough to pay it yourself. Just a question.
December 20, 2011 at 9:49am
I think it is funny that the democratic party came in and tried to take some credit for Occuply unemployed. Read another post from a kid that tried to say his dad was rich and he didn't get any of his money. Claims he was not a democrat. Seems to me that is a great definition of a liberal and of a Occupy Unemployment group member. I mean by that is to say, the kid thought he deserved to have his father's money and the same goes for the occupy bunch, in that they think they deserve sharing the wealth. No, I am not of the 99%. I am of the 100% that believe the things that make this country great are the ability to work for what you get. Socialism seems to be the buzz word to describe these two groups I mentioned. Both want what other have.

December 20, 2011 at 10:37am
@Mr. Church and all,
For the record, most of our members and supporters are gainfully employed, even while a significant percent of them are in college full time. I believe you would be surprised by how varied our political beliefs are, and how few of us are interested in wealth redistribution in the way you use it. Most of us are simply tired of watching the wealth created by the natural resources and labor force of the US being siphoned off by those who've spent their money and power to manipulate the system to ensure an uneven benefit to themselves from those resources. I am also of the 100% who believe that the things that make this country great are the ability to work for what you get. The difference is that I will focus my work on creating a world where people's contributions are fairly rewarded, their civil rights respected, and where we work together as a community to achieve greatness, as opposed to just working to cover the bills for my family. And personally, I think the hostility in your comment says much more about you than it does about anyone in our group. I hope that you will allow your opinion of our contribution to change as our movement grows and begins to have positive effects on this community we share.
December 20, 2011 at 10:41am
As someone who actually agrees with the politics, I have to say these Occupiers come across as a bunch of idiots.

You missed the movement guys, everyone has gone home to actually organize and get something done other than get their names in the paper. Way to accomplish something! (If you can't tell, that was sarcasm.)

Also, I have a hard time connecting the City of Murfreesboro with corporate America. Last time I looked the city wasn't a pawn of global corporations or banks. Could someone please explain it to me?

December 22, 2011 at 9:30pm
Wow I guess the RCDP want to keep getting swept in the local elections. Use to be a proud member it's sad to see the party doing this to itself. Really how many people in this county do they think supports this? I know the answer because most everyone I know votes democrat and they are not happy about it at all. If they stick to their word the party is about to lose a lot of donors.
December 22, 2011 at 10:03pm
@whyurwrong..I can't say I agree with their banners or their cause, but I think it's great that they care enough to even protest issues with our government. I can't remember college kids protesting anything in the 80's and these guys fail in comparison to the protestors in the 70's surrounding Vietnam. Protesting is a civil right even for republicans, it's the RCDP that have embraced these individual's right to excercise this American civil right. Just because we haven't seen protestors in a while doesn't warrant a lack of tolerance or nor recognizing the spirit in which the DP paid their fees....an American spirit to have the right to oppose, in public, our government. I might even become a member of the DP out of my respect for their support of these youngsters.
December 23, 2011 at 6:12am
Not sure why the comments aren't up any longer, but as someone who knows both Matt Hammill and James Short, I can assure you that what was posted by "Triple T" was accurate. As if James's tantrum reaction wasn't indicative enough, allow me to reiterate. It is true that James Short's father is VERY wealthy and he did live with him his throughout his entire childhood in Williamson county. "Jace" mentioned that his father paid for his private schooling but failed to also mention that his "1%" father is paying his college tuition as well. The fact that he is involved in this "protest" is silly, considering he is born and bread of an abundance of wealth.
As far as the regurgitated talk of an "Ad hominem" attack is concerned, its baseless. He and others are simply pointing our the utter outlandishness and ridiculousness of someone who lives with his father in williamson county claiming to be a "99$er".
@Jase1912- You broke Godwins law on your second post, nice work!

December 23, 2011 at 6:19am
@protector. Why would you become a member of a party based on a political stunt and not what the party stands for? That's crazy. I don't have a problem with anyone protesting, but me and a lot of other people have a problem with a never ending slum on city plaza, our taxes going toward the lighting and police that had to be put on the plaza, and the fact that they don't think they should have to get the proper permits like everyone else. I didn't agree with the anti mosque crowd, but support their right to protest. They didn't take over anywhere, or make a very pretty area look like crap with tarps and tents. They marched and held rallies and got their message out without looking like spoiled brats who shouldn't have to follow the same rules as everyone else. Also this is not San Fran or L.A the Dems here are conservative like Heath Shuler. The RCDP just told the world they share the same values as Solidarity. If they think the hard working Dems of this county want to be lumped in with a socialist group they are crazy. Does anyone at RCDP have the brains to tell me why they keep getting swept and prominent Dems are jumping ship when they run for reelection? I know why, because of crap like this.
December 23, 2011 at 2:21pm
I will tell u exactly why I made that statement.....because I enjoy getting a rise out of someone like yourself....good rebuttle...not hostile...liked that! And u r right.....I enjoy being a little silly, at times! Merry Christmas to all from Protector!
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