Republicans are not alone in preparing for the January 3, Iowa caucuses. Occupy Iowa groups are organizing to be the first occupiers in the nation to challenge the electoral status quo, and none of the candidates – including President Obama – will be spared.
Occupy Des Moines organizers have said there are no plans to disrupt the actual precinct caucuses next week. Protesters are planning to target campaign offices, and they expect hundreds of people from Occupy movements across the Midwest to participate.
A group called Occupy Iowa Caucus is also asking members of both parties to vote “uncommitted” on January 3, to send a message of discontent to the political establishment.
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According to media reports, Republican officials have signaled that “uncommitted” delegates will not be sent to the nominating convention. In response, Occupy Iowa Caucus activists sent out a press release on Tuesday condemning the state GOP for planning “voter suppression” and “electoral fraud” by refusing to recognize “uncommitted” and “no preference” votes.
The campaign kicks off on Tuesday evening with the Occupy Des Moines People’s Caucus. Participants will gather in groups to show their preference for which candidate’s campaign headquarters they intend to non-violently occupy before the end of the week.
The People’s Caucus mimics many local caucuses in Iowa, but instead of supporting candidates, participants will prepare to protest those they like the least.
“We'll occupy the jails too, if that's what it takes to make our voices heard,” said Des Moines occupier Olivia Sandbothe. “Enough is enough. It's time to put communities before corporations and people before profits.”
With the assumption that President Obama has full support from his party, Iowa Democrats may stay home on January 3. Occupy Iowa Caucus participants have a chance to win some uncommitted delegates and let the Democratic establishment know that it cannot take the 99 percent for granted.
Like the People’s Caucus, Iowa Democrats caucus by gathering at local precincts and congregating in areas of a room to show their support for a certain candidate. In large precincts, the proportional threshold for a group to receive a delegate can be as low as 15 percent. If 15 percent or more of Democrats in a precinct are occupiers, then the protesters could send uncommitted delegates to the district and state conventions.
Voting “uncommitted” is not unheard of in Iowa, and in 1992 more Iowans were uncommitted than willing to support Bill Clinton.
Occupiers in Des Moines, Ames and Cedar Valley have voted to support the Occupy Iowa Caucus plan to rally uncommitted votes.
The Occupy Iowa movement is supporting no one this year, but one candidate could potentially benefit from the movement. Recent polls give Ron Paul a slight lead over the other GOP candidates, and his anti-torture, anti-war and otherwise libertarian stances could attract support from the various malcontents gathered under the Occupy banner. They will have to be registered as Republicans, of course, but the 99 percent makes plenty of room for Republicans.