As we head into a presidential election year, I’d wager a lot the mainstream media will focus their attention on the horse race for the White House and other prime time campaigns. But this is a moment—when we are seeing a real shift in our politics, from Wisconsin to Ohio to Occupy—to be recruiting and supporting what I’d call 99 percenter candidates: those who share the core convictions of Occupy Wall Street and the 99 percent movement.
This space that’s been opened by movements provides a real opportunity now for a progressive politics that is strong at the grassroots and strong in principle, and that finds champions inside an electoral system badly in need of reform—reform that will only come if we can elect enough “inside” progressives to help our “outside” movements make it happen.
So it’s great to see candidates like Tammy Baldwin, Elizabeth Warren and Mazie Hirono on the campaign trail talking about issues like democracy and equality. It’s also good to know Progressive Majority, along with allies like the New Organizing Institute, Rebuild the Dream and Democracy for America, has pledges from over 1,500 candidates to run in 2012.
Many candidates understand the need to seize this moment—not to co-opt it but to genuinely channel it. Here’s one good example: Norman Solomon, who speaks eloquently on the need to fuse movement energy and electoral politics, and he was doing so before the eruption of Occupy Wall Street. He’s running to represent California’s 6th District, the seat being vacated by ten-term progressive stalwart Lynn Woolsey.