Power to the Public comes out of three losing campaigns. That's right, losing campaigns, and because of this history Power to the Public is committed to learning from those successes and mistakes and going forward. What these campaigns share in common is a great cause. These are campaigns that need to be picked back up and fought again and again. For them to win we need a better model for organizing, we need to build local grassroots organizing that is committed to long term action. That is accessible, focused, democratic, holds principled unity and able to build real power.
The beginnings started in 2012 after Occupy Wall Street when a coalition that was lead by unions started focusing on the large banks shareholder meetings. In several cities huge crowds and creative tactics were mobilized to demonstrate against the banks. After the first year though these campaigns ended and the coalition leaders gave up. A small group of organizers continued these protests with bank actions in over 20 cities that were small but were significant in their grassroots nature. The energy continued for a third year but then collapsed in disorganization and a lack of resources. Power to the Public recognizes the same truth that OWS had recognized, that Wall Street needs to be taken for the people and remade to serve our interests. In the years since organized bank protests have come to a halt but banks still deserve protest.
In the fall of 2012, a group in Olympia held an antiwar demonstration that was called "Localization Not Occupation," that was a celebration of the anniversary of Occupy Olympia and a protest of the anniversary of the Afghanistan War. We had over 600 people turnout throughout the day long event which featured over 20 speakers and bands plus tabling and workshops. It showed that the roots of OWS was strongly antiwar, a point that is missed often in the understanding of OWS. Wall Street was responsible for occupying Afghanistan and Iraq with it's war profiteering. There were a lot of reasons to hate Wall Street but that was one of them. The wars have only grown and threaten to continue to grow as the US empire faces the same circumstances that have brought down other empires. War and militarism by empire is not a path towards democracy and freedom. Power to the Public is antiwar.
Power to the Public began soon after that.
It seeks to hold onto some of the aspirations that were fading from OWS and the antiwar movement. In Thurston County in 2012 another important effort took shape, the Thurston Public Power Initiative. In 2008 an Australian bank bought Puget Sound Energy the monopoly investor owned utility that serves electricity to much of Washington state. In 2008 Jefferson County was part of three counties that used a law on the books in WA that allowed it to run an initiative that created a Public Utility District with the power to force PSE to sell it's electric infrastructure and thereby democratize the monopoly electric company from an Australian bank for the people. Of three counties that tried only Jefferson County succeeded and it had to do with their strong citizens group that fought for it. In 2012 Thurston County lost after PSE spent the most ever on any county wide election ever by a factor of ten. Power to the Public is determined to remember this fight and one day win.
The fight for public banks, the fight against private monopolies and the anti-war movement all are core to Power to the Public. We recognize that these struggles are paramount to a free society. These are democratic struggles but both major parties are owned by bankers, the military industrial complex and the rich elite that profit from monopoly control. The revolution will not be televised, it will not be funded, it will not be lead by Democrats, it will not be lead by Republicans. It will take a movement and Power to the Public seeks to organize those that agree with these core points into a democratic organization that shrugs off divisive labeling such as left or right or conservative or liberal. Our base is the 99%.