Video and transcript from Keith Olbermann's interview with Tom Hayden on Countdown, which aired live on October 12, 2011.
KEITH OLBERMANN: For more perspective on Occupy as the movement goes forward, a pleasure to be joined now by Tom Hayden, civil rights and anti-war activist, member of the California state legislature for 18 years, founder of the '60s radical group Students for a Democratic Society. It's a great pleasure to talk to you, sir. Thanks for being on.
TOM HAYDEN: Keith, nice to talk to you. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: You were a Freedom Rider in the rural South as that began, and you were a community organizer in Newark as the country woke up in the early '60s and you helped focus the rallies against the Vietnam War. Give me a historical perspective - where does Occupy stand in terms of its start. I mean, 26 days in, compare it to where any of those other movements were 26 days in.
HAYDEN: I think it's difficult. I think this movement needs breathing room. It's just materializing, and it could go in any direction. The sit-ins started February 1st, 1960, and spread to 100 cities, 70,000 arrests. Free Speech Movement started over an incident about literature on the table at Sproul Hall. Nobody expected it. So, the future seems to arrive unexpectedly, and there's a danger of trying to over-interpret what's about to happen. But something is definitely happening.
OLBERMANN: Have you got an idea what the tipping point was on whatever it is that's happening? Was it Scott Walker and the union-busting efforts in Wisconsin? Was it something - part of the movement itself - the arrests, perhaps? The 700 arrests at Brooklyn Bridge? What changed this? Because, wherever it's going - after the first week or ten days, it looked like "Well, that was interesting and very dramatic, and now it's going to go away" - and it's obvious now, the reports are 1,100 American communities - 1,100 have some form of this.
OLBERMANN: What made it jump to the right side of the river, if you will?
HAYDEN: Well, I think there's - first of all - two or three years of increasing desperation in terms of foreclosures, unemployment, job insecurity, young people feeling that their future jobs have already been outsourced. That combined with - like the early New Deal - nothing happened for a couple of years, and then people started to go on strike. Nothing has been happening, and I think the protesters are completely correct, that Washington is impossible. I think that the possibilities at local levels, like Los Angeles or San Francisco - a municipal bank, some of these reforms are possible.
There's, to me, three or four scenarios, because this can't last. One - one scenario is that it keeps growing as it has unpredictably - with no end in sight. Two is, somebody orders the police to crack down - I'm glad Mayor Bloomberg seems to be listening to the advice of his girlfriend, who's on the board of that Zuccotti Park neighborhood association. Three, it escalates to civil disobedience and arrests - non-violent, peaceful arrests on a scale never known before, probably, in my lifetime - it would have to be 20,000 to 100,000.
HAYDEN: And imagine though, Keith, if 10,000 or 20,000 people peacefully sat down in the streets of New York and said, "If you don't do anything about Wall Street, arrest us."
HAYDEN: "And by the way, we're going to demand jury trials of our peers." The whole system would break down, and the message would not be lost.
Or - a final scenario, of course, that's always possible - at the last minute, the president could sense an emergency that requires action and do some things that he has not done before, things that he alone can do, that are - don't require the Senate, or the House or the dinosaur elements in Washington.
One would be to end these wars. That would be a trillion and a half dollars.
Two would be to let the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire, that's another trillion.
Three would be to name his own Special Advisor on Wall Street reform, and start appointing people and doing things within the executive branch.
And then four - just lay down the gauntlet, and say "Look, folks. I have tried with the Republicans in Congress. It hasn't gotten us anywhere. This is going to be the campaign of 2012, please give me a mandate."
Something will happen, because these encampments will fester. The one in Los Angeles is interesting; it's not like New York. In LA, it's right up against City Hall. So, you have the beautiful City Hall, the grass is now covered with - by my count yesterday - 250 tents, 500 people, and it's just a circle of shame around the center of power.
You can't go to City Hall on any business to get your development permit or your tax break or whatever it is that you want without passing through these tents of people who are staring at you, who go into the building, who lobby, who go back out to rallies. It's quite serious and it's amazing that the authorities haven't done anything negative, which is good. But also, it's amazing that they've done nothing positive, which is, kind of proves the point.
OLBERMANN: Tom Hayden, I always thank every guest. That was particularly, I think, extraordinarily insightful and useful as we look ahead to where Occupy is going. So, I thank you kindly for that and for your time, sir.
HAYDEN: Thanks very much, sir. Good evening.
OLBERMANN: Good evening to you. Wow.
And as extraordinary as the first 26 days of Occupy Wall Street have been, there are Occupy movements everywhere. At first, we thought the number was 250 cities Occupying, now the estimate is 1,100. Occupy Tucson, next.
Olbermann tweeted the following after the conclusion of the show: