Occupy Wall Street v. The Tea Party

Occupy Wall Street protests have the reputation of being about diffused public anger with no real political agenda.  The Tea Party has always been rigidly focused on anti-taxes but defines itself around the Contract from America platform that its followers stick closely to in their political campaigning.  From their start in 2009 the Tea Party quickly organized into a grass roots federation of citizens that got many people elected around the country and in congress.  But the Tea Party isn’t 100% a single structure either, with several web sites using the Tea Party name and each having slightly different platforms.

If the Occupy Wall Street movement wants political success they too will need to organize across the country into a political movement.  First off, they need a better name, and second they need a political platform that will counter challenge the conservatives and define their movement.  And they need to coop the Democratic party like the Tea Party has taken over the Republican party.  Third parties just don’t work, unless they think Americans are ready for a complete change.  But looking at list of American political parties and their history makes this doubtful.

The phrase “occupy Wall Street” just doesn’t ring true for a long term political party moniker.  I’m not sure what these young new protestors want, but they sound like an Egalitarian Party because of their identity with the 99%.  Since the Occupy Wall Street protests quickly found sympathy with people in other countries they would do well to make it a world-wide movement.  The old phrase, Think Globally, Act Locally applies well to them because of their environmental demands.

In a world of global communications, global economy, global environment, why not a global political movement?  However, if they don’t stay focused on the critical issues they will bog down and divide their followers.  If you look at the various political platforms on the Tea Party sites you  see how they’ve broaden their anti-tax focus to other issues – for example look at the Non-negotiable 15 Core Beliefs at the TeaParty.org site that deal with guns, English and family values.

The Tea Party advocates a small government movement where individuals are expected to pull their own weight.  The Occupy Wall Street movement advocates economic fairness for all in a society that favors the rich.  Both are about money.  The Tea Party people want more money for their economic freedom by paying less taxes at the local, state and federal levels – thus the emphasis for a small government.  The Occupy Wall Street movement is about protecting the individual rather than the bottom line, and that means social engineering, big government and more taxes.  There is a direct conflict of goals.

Our society is politically polarized and getting more polarized all the time.  I fear this process is only going to get nastier.  The 2012 election will probably be a lot like the one in 1968.

JWH – 10/18/11

5 thoughts on “Occupy Wall Street v. The Tea Party”

  1. The right-wing is better at following a leader, Jim. There’s no way the Occupy Wall Street movement will organize like the Tea Party.

    The Democratic Party will likely keep its distance, too. Compare how Republican presidential candidates treat the Republican base with how Barack Obama has treated the Democratic base.

    Well, for decades now, no one in America has stood up for progressive values. As bad as the Democrats are at politics, I don’t see that changing, even when public opinion is on our side. (Tax cuts for the rich aren’t very popular in America, but Congressional Democrats still wouldn’t take a stand on that last fall.)

    1. Bill, I don’t have much hope of the Occupy Wall Street movement organizing either. However, others might. If they don’t the 1% will keep taking more share of the pie. Seeking more tax breaks, killing off social programs, reducing the size of the government are just ways to transfer more money from the 99% to the 1%. Sooner or later the pie share of the 99% will get so small they will revolt. I can’t imagine that not happening.

    2. The Democrats are the biggest threat to OWS. They will try to use them to get votes from OWS supporters but will actively work to undermine OWS and its goals. The democratic PARTY is not an organization that supports or comes from the 99%. Barney Frank claims to support OWS! He’s had a hand in every bill that tore down the regulations that would have prevented WorldComm, Enron, and the 2008 meltdown! But like almost every single democrat he talks progressive but his actual votes and policy are 100% corporate/plutocrat garbage.

      The sooner OWS has real leaders like the media wants them to have the sooner they can be co-opted and the movement destroyed.

  2. It seems there’s a big difference between OWS and the Tea Party. The Tea Party wants less. OWS wants more. OWS really wants more of other people’s money. They come across as undisciplined redistributionists. A good fit for the Democratic Party!

    1. It all depends if OWS is right. History shows when the rich get too rich, and own too much of the wealth, there are social upheavals. I think the rich would do well to pay attention to OWS. Their own wealth depends on a healthy middle class. As the middle class fades, and the poor get much poorer, the population of the wealthy will dwindle too. I believe a certain amount of social sharing stimulates wealth and capitalism. If the right get their way and shrinks the federal government, it will eventually shrink the whole economy.

      It doesn’t hurt to be generous. Being stingy is what made Scrooge such a miserable old man. And our rich can afford to help the poor with social programs, which I believe trickles money up far better than Reagan ever trickled it down.

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