In perhaps one of the least shocking headline of the year, leftist CUNY professor Frances Fox Piven announced on the leftist outlet Democracy Now that we need to re-elect Barrack Obama. But the reason is a little less expected: it’s because he will be “vulnerable” to the demands of Occupy Wall Street-like movements, particularly those pushing debt forgiveness like the offshoot Strike Debt. If Romney is elected Piven fears “repression” — even mentioning the National Guard as an option to disperse widespread movements like OWS.
Transcript of the interview Below:
AMY GOODMAN: What about making those demands, and do you think that’s relevant? I mean, this is a key moment right now, Frances Fox Piven.
FRANCES FOX PIVEN: Well, yeah, but it’s—yes, we make demands, and inevitably it’s going to be electoral politics that is going to sort of channel the response to those demands. But the point isn’t a dialogue between the movement and guys—mainly guys—running for election, because while they’re running for election, they’re going to promise the sky. There’s no question about that. They’ve done—they do that all the time. Look at all the broken promises in—that follow every election.
So, this doesn’t mean I don’t think electoral politics is important; I think it’s very important. I think the election is very important. I think that we need to re-elect Barack Obama, not because he’s going to respond just because we have a dialogue with him, but we need to re-elect him because he is vulnerable to the kind of momentum pressure leverage that a movement like Strike Debt can exert. He will have to respond, and he won’t be able to respond by calling out the National Guard. We don’t want to elect—we don’t want Romney, a Republican Senate, a Republican House, because they might well respond with repression. So—
AMY GOODMAN: And yet, you’re seeing in the immigrants’ movement, President—under President Obama, more immigrants have been deported than under any president in history, and the level of militarization of the police in this last four years has escalated.
FRANCES FOX PIVEN: Yes, but it would have escalated more if John McCain had won the presidency, and we would have been maybe a little bit better off if the Tea Party Republicans hadn’t taken control of the House of Representatives in 2010. I’m not saying that electoral politics works the way it’s supposed to work. It doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to work. That’s one of our problems. And it’s one of the reasons that the United States has become so unequal. It’s one of the reasons that we have the 99 percent versus the 1 percent. A lot of this has happened through public policy.
But nevertheless, in the complex dynamic that movements can create in political life, it is useful, it is helpful, to have an electoral—elected regime that has to worry about the people that are allied with the movement, that has to worry about those voter blocs, like the liberals in the civil rights movement, for example, who—that was who Lyndon Baines Johnson was worried about when he responded ultimately to the civil rights movement by echoing “We Shall Overcome” in one of his speeches. It wasn’t because of just a dialogue with the movement that occurred before the election. It was because the movement was so forceful and so disruptive, that civil rights movement, that it polarized the country, and Lyndon Baines Johnson could not take the chance of being on the side of what was becoming a minority white Southern bloc.