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