Keith Olbermann and Tom Hayden connect Occupy Wall Street to the recent defeat of Mississippi’s Personhood Amendment, the union-busting bill in Ohio and the recall election in Arizona of the author of the “papers please law.” Referring to protesters, Hayden says, “They’ve moved from occupying tents to occupying ballot boxes.” He goes on to caution the movement against losing focus by going after political figures like Michele Bachmann.
KEITH OLBERMANN: With me now to shed some light on how Occupy may be changing as it approaches the two-month anniversary, educator and activist Tom Hayden. Thanks again for your time, sir.
TOM HAYDEN: Nice to see you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Well, Occupy at Berkeley, I suppose that had to happen. Protesting the nature of education was a key accelerant in the '60s. Is this a sign that it may become such again in this decade?
HAYDEN: The difference between the '60s and the present is the economy is much worse.
HAYDEN: These students are facing unbelievable tuition increases, closing the doors of affordability to higher education. I went to University of Michigan for $100 a semester. So, they are being economically disenfranchised. And they have been protesting and striking for two years as tuitions have risen. The university seems oblivious. There are a lot of Wall Street investors that are involved with the university system today across the country. Larry Summers was the president of Harvard, as you know.
The legislature has found -- found it impossible to raise revenues. For example, they could cut the prison budget, but they are unwilling to do that. They can't raise taxes, because of Prop 13. So, it's coming to a head and this is really -- Occupy has come roaring out of the tent this week into the ballot box with these amazing voter rejections of the tea party across the country. And now students everywhere are going on strike. So, it's all about economics, which is much different than the student movements of the past.
OLBERMANN: You brought up the connection to Tuesday's results, particularly personhood in Mississippi and the union-busting law going down in Ohio and the recall the "Papers, Please" law author in Arizona. Explain to me how you see that the -- all that being related to Occupy, rather than -- I assume it's something more specific than just a sense of the mood of the country.
HAYDEN: It's partly a spirit and a mood. I think there is a unity of energy and excitement that I saw on TV, watching the returns in Ohio last night -- with Occupy protesters next to AFL-CIO leaders. That's new. That's different. That's all about the economy. They've moved from occupying tents to occupying ballot boxes, I guess. And I noticed it wasn't so much about electing people and hoping for the best. It was more using the power of recall and referendum to knock down anti-labor, anti-woman laws.
And -- you mentioned personhood. If a fertilized egg is denied personhood in Mississippi, I want to ask the question, are corporations far behind? Because they claim personhood under recent Supreme Court decision. It's going to be interesting.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, yeah.
HAYDEN: So, you have students on the march. You have voters on the march, and you have the encampments facing kind of a Valley Forge situation. I was in Boston. It's getting cold out there.
OLBERMANN: And a lot of people are preparing with military-style tents, for instance, at Occupy Wall Street. So, there is a preparation.
OLBERMANN: One other thing -- about this event on board the ship, the Occupy Michele Bachmann moment. I mean, a certain element of farce to it, but political interruption -- non-violent, brief, in-and-out, take whatever is coming to you at the end of it -- is that a useful tactic, or are they risking diluting the message? Or is that something new or are we seeing something morph again?
HAYDEN: It's a bit -- I think it's a bit out of control. Remember, this is not directed by anybody. And I've done such things in my own past.
HAYDEN: I hate to judge, but I would say -- when a movement gets this stage of excitement going, it can start to overstep what its public support is. The public support is not for shutting down Michele Bachmann, it's for substantially reforming Wall Street, doing something about derivatives, campaign contributions, and, yeah -- I would say anything that dilutes from that message becomes a sideshow.
HAYDEN: I don't know how much -- I don't know how much that will happen.
HAYDEN: But staying on message when you have thousands of people, in hundreds of places, protesting and marching in all directions is not so easy, but the elections and the universities and the encampments and the focus on Wall Street seems to be holding people pretty much together.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, that is remarkable.
HAYDEN: They have to watch out -- they have to watch out for televised incidents. You know what happened with the tea party -- they started with a very strong issue, "Taxes are too high." And pretty soon, a lot of their stranger platform planks began to come out and they started to lose support. And on Tuesday, I think, they really took a beating. So staying on message -- especially when you have a decentralized movement -- is hard. But I think it's essential. Reform Wall Street, period.
OLBERMANN: They have done a good job so far. I guess it was just too --
HAYDEN: Yes, they have.
OLBERMANN: Too entertaining to pass up that one time. The activist and educator Tom Hayden. Once again, Tom, great thanks for your time.
HAYDEN: Thank you, sir.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, sir.