What now for Occupy Chico?

Protesters need to move to the next level

We appreciate what the Occupy movement in Chico and elsewhere has accomplished by breaking the silence that has long obscured the astonishing growth of what can only be called a plutocracy in this country. The proliferation of media reports on income inequality and the wholly outsized influence the mega-corporations and the super-rich have on Congress are testament to the movement’s impact.

But what now? In some ways the Occupy movement is an oddity—groups of people camping out in public places that often have nothing to do with the usurpation of power by the plutocracy. In some cities, like Oakland and Chico, the occupiers are putting otherwise sympathetic local officials on the spot by staking claims to public places in which overnight camping ordinarily is prohibited.

If the occupiers are going to have the kind of impact the tea party has had, they must move to the next level. They need to organize in a way that forms a permanent force, and they need to work within the system. We’re a two-party nation, for good or ill, and the way to get things done—as the tea party has shown—is to work through one of the parties.

Were it not for the tea party, Republican extremists wouldn’t control the House, the nation wouldn’t have flirted with catastrophe over raising the debt ceiling, and Republican politicians wouldn’t be doing all they can to prevent millions of people with Democratic-leaning demographics from voting.

The occupiers can begin by pushing the Obama administration to get tough with the mega-banks by tightening regulations and actually sending some of the banksters who caused the crash of 2008 to prison. Then they could work on electing candidates who are determined to restore democracy in America by reining in corporate influence. And they could work to re-elect Barack Obama, whose failures in this regard have occurred to a great extent because of the obstructionism thrown up by the tea party and its minions in Congress.

It’s important to remember what’s at stake in the next election—not only the presidency, but also the makeup of the Supreme Court. Does anyone believe the Republicans are going to appoint another Sonia Sotomayor or Elena Kagan?