My neighbor went to Occupy Wall Street, and all I got was this lousy yard sign.
That’s not really true, but it could be.
Official Washington Democrats may still be unsure of how, or whether, to embrace the burgeoning Occupy protest movement, but at least progressive organization has figured out how to cash in on it.
Democracy For America (DFA), the group associated with Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor and ex-chairman of the Democratic Party, has begun offering Occupy-themed yard signs for a minimum $16 donation.
Occupy Wall Street has entered the world of merchandising, or “merch” for short, in the parlance of show biz. You know, t-shirts, bobbleheads and the like that fans of a given celebrity, band, or movie might buy or collect.
An Occupy supporter can now essentially buy one of DFA’s “We are the 99%” yard signs the same way a Journey fan might buy a poster or shirt on the way home from one of the band’s sold-out shows.
DFA’s yard signs even come emblazoned with a web page that the organization created just to affiliate with the Occupy movement: www.DemocracyForAmerica.com/occupy
To be fair, however, DFA — which fundraises often for a variety of progressive causes, from individual candidates for Congress, to repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” for instance — says it’s not really out to make buck off the success of the Occupy protests which have spread far and wide.
“Normally we give merchandise away for free, but yard signs are expensive,” says DFA Political Director Charles Chamberlain. “It costs $1.29 to print each sign. It costs $2.50 to package them. It can cost up to $9.75 to ship them, depending on where you live. And when buying signs in large quantities, it costs up to $1,000 just to add a second color to the sign.
“When it’s all said and done — each sign costs $13.76 to print, package and ship directly to your home. So, we’re asking for a contribution of at least $16 to help cover all the costs,” he says.
If folks pitch in more, Chamberlain says DFA will use the additional money to support “our continued involvement, spreading the message, and supporting the people on the ground in New York and beyond who started this bold movement.
“It’s October. In New York, Boston, and even Atlanta, Occupy Wall Street needs sleeping bags, blankets, medical supplies and so much more,” he adds. “Making a contribution today not only gets you a yard sign so you can show your support, it will help us deliver more of the resources that people on the ground need right now.”
He’s right, of course, Occupiers certainly will need the help, particularly as the colder weather becomes as much an issue for them to remain in their encampments as has various unfriendly political leaders.
Still, one can’t help but see the irony that a movement rooted in anti-corporatism now finds itself the object of some good ol’ fashioned merch.
Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.