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Occupy Movement Targets Iowa Caucuses

Republican presidential candidates and Democratic party focus of demonstrations denouncing corporate dollars in electoral politics

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Story Transcript

CHANTING: Let us in! We are the 99 percent!

DAVID DOUGHERTY, TRNN: Occupy movement protestors have begun to target the 2012 presidential elections with the Occupy the Caucuses movement in Iowa. Based primarily in the state capital of Des Moines, the group has planned a week of actions leading up to the January 3 caucus, to protest corporate money and influence in United States politics and elections. The Real News spoke with Occupy the Caucuses participant Stephen Toothman out of the group’s headquarters in Des Moines.

STEPHEN TOOTHMAN, OCCUPY DES MOINES, OCCUPY THE CAUCUSES: Iowa is the first of the nation caucuses, and it gives a wonderful opportunity to provide a counterpoint to the corporate politicians and the corporate money that’s being funneled into this election, by raising the issues that are important to the 99 percent. And there will be media here all week for these things, because it is quite the media circus. But at the same time, that gives us a perfect stage to talk about things like corporate personhood and campaign finance reform and basically getting the money and corporations out of our government, out of our elections. And the way we Occupy the caucus is that we’re going after the actual candidates themselves and their campaign headquarters.

DOUGHERTY: The Iowa Caucus, where people chose the delegates who will be sent off to their party conventions where candidates are later selected, is seen as the first major electoral event of the presidential election cycle. Occupy the Caucus’s week of events was kicked off with the staging of what they called "The People’s Caucus", where participants shared their concerns about potential candidates and broke off into groups to discuss and plan actions to target candidates. Republican presidential candidates are not the only targets of the Occupy the Caucus demonstrations. A number of demonstrators were arrested at Republican candidates’ offices, a Wells Fargo Bank branch, and the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters.

TOOTHMAN: Republicans, Democrats, they’re two sides of the same coin. They’re both–the whole system has been corrupted by corporate dollars. Because of Citizens United, corporations can now funnel unlimited amounts of money into our campaigns, into the election system. And so these politicians are bought and paid for by the corporations. And so it doesn’t matter whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat. You’re basically getting somebody that’s representing Wall Street and their interests and the interests of the 1 percent instead of the people who elected them and the people they should be representing, the 99 percent.

DOUGHERTY: While Occupy the Caucus participants have said they don’t plan on interfering with the upcoming elections themselves on Tuesday, the Republican Party has announced that it will be moving the place where ballots are counted to a secret location, citing security concerns. Some Occupy movements in Iowa are calling on voters to cast "uncommitted" ballots in order to express a lack of confidence in what they say are corporate candidates presented by both parties. More Occupy actions are expected at upcoming caucuses and primaries as the 2012 presidential elections heat up. This is David Dougherty with The Real News Network.

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DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.