Why the Tea Party Should Join the Occupation

It is both a strength and a weakness of the Occupy Wall Street protest that the movement has yet to develop a concrete list of proposals and demands.  On the one hand, it is arguably because there are no such demands that the movement has spread as quickly as it has.  Rather than dictating an agenda, the process has left open the space for the articulation of grievances and demands.  It is this openness, I think, which is attracting new participants.  On the other hand, because there are no such proposals and demands, the reactionaries who have stood in opposition to this movement from its inception have been able to simply pretend that they know what this movement stands for, what its demands are, what solutions it proposes.  Many of the movement's most vocal critics appear to be the most ignorant of it.  Herman Cain, for instance, has criticized Occupy Wall Street for being on Wall Street and not in front of the White House.  Is he simply not aware that Occupy DC has been camped out a block away from the White House for two weeks?  Reading such reports in the media, I am reminded more often that not of the liberal Democratic reaction to the Tea Party movement when it first began gaining steam in early 2009.  Yesterday, I suggested that there is significant overlap between the motivations of Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party movement.  Though he reproduces a number of unfounded cliches that have become popular talking points among Republican party hacks, Wayne Allen Root, chairman of the Libertarian National Congressional Committee, and staunch supporter of the Tea Party movement, sees a significant amount of agreement between the Tea Party and the Occupation movement.  From Newsmax:
But what conservatives are missing is that the protesters have a few good points. The U.S. political system is corrupt. Big corporations, lobbyists, and lawyers are taking advantage of the taxpayers. The bailout of banks and Wall Street was a massive mistake. Billions handed out by government to Obama contributors under the guise of "green energy" is a looting of the taxpayers.

I’ve spent my life defending capitalism. But the system we have now isn’t capitalism. It’s “Crony Capitalism.” The banks, Wall Street, and big corporations have joined forces with politicians of both sides to fleece the American taxpayer. The billion-dollar public companies in America aren’t conservative or liberal. They are just out for themselves. And the rest of us be damned.

These big companies took capitalist risks, lost big, and then went to the government with hat in hand like welfare queens. The same banks that took billions in bailouts from the American taxpayers, then refused to lend to those same taxpayers. Many (but not all) bank and Wall Street CEOs joined with politicians in criminal conspiracies to loot our country and defraud taxpayers.

Conservatives need to face the truth. Just because we dislike the messengers, doesn't mean there isn’t some truth to the message . . .

as much as I hate to admit this, part of the protesters' message is striking deep in the gut of middle-class Americans. It's resonating with small business owners like me. We all feel it — our country is slipping away; special interests are looting the taxpayers; big corporations are gaming the system; the little guy is getting hit from all sides. Small business creates all the jobs, yet big business is making all the rules and stealing all the money.

The protesters are mostly jobless bongo-playing fools — for the moment. But, they are merely the canary in the coal mine for the serious unrest on the streets of America soon to come. Soon I fear the mobs will include rioting taxpayers, respected small business owners, grandmothers from Ohio, and veterans from Iowa. Add to the mix millions of formerly gainfully employed, middle-class Americans, now jobless for months, or years on end.

The D.C. politicians had better be afraid — very afraid. If the tea party, which also hates the Fed, and despises the bailouts, and wants to stop the looting of America by special interests, joins forces with the Occupy Wall Street crowd, all bets are off.

If that happens, both Nancy Pelosi and Herman Cain will be surprised at the depth of anger and despair. None of the fat cats or government bureaucrats in D.C. feel it, or understand it. They haven’t skipped a beat. Their checks are still big and getting bigger. Their pensions are gold-plated. Their healthcare is paid for life.


Samuel Wilson said...

d., I won't disagree with "should," but it seems, admittedly at first glance, like an irreconcilable gulf separates the two camps. I suppose that if the occupiers are believed to stand for one thing above all, it's for increasing taxes on some Americans. My understanding of Tea Partiers remains that they are adamantly opposed to tax increases. Maybe one issue shouldn't be a deal breaker, but if one can be, it'd probably be this one. If you have evidence that TPs are willing to support new taxes, or that occupiers are willing to back off from their presumably fundamental demand, I'll be glad to see it.

d.eris said...

On the tax issue, I don't have any reliable and direct evidence about the Tea Party folks in particular being willing to support new taxes. However, in my column for CAIVN today, I take a look at a poll conducted by WaPo-Bloomberg ahead of last night's GOP debate which found that a majority (54%) of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents support raising taxes on households making more than $250,000 a year to address the federal budget deficit. It was the ONLY measure that a majority of that subgroup supported to address the deficit (massive majorities were opposed to raising taxes on the middles class and to reducing Social Security and Medicare benefits).

On the other side, we obviously don't really have reliable polling at OWS either. But, judging from that poll and comparable findings elsewhere and my own sense of the folks at OWS, there is more overlap on the tax issue and maintaining the social safety net than, say, on the issue of reducing military spending.

I think we have to try to resist or undermine the obvious narrative that is being developed in the corporate media that the Tea Party and OWS are diametrically opposed. That is the bipolar logic of the duopoly at work. Of course, it may turn out that that is what happens if OWS is successfully co-opted by the Dems, but I would like to believe that is not the only possible outcome here.

Samuel Wilson said...

I agree that the occupiers need to resist the Democratic embrace, and that people need to step forward from both the occupations and the TPs and at least talk to each other, ideally without labels attached. But I would resist the assumption that an inherent opposition between the two movements could only be a corporate-media invention. Some ideas and moralities are irreconcilable. The ideal would be a mutual abandonment of irreconcilably extreme demands through reasonably dialogue. The question is whether enough Americans of all viewpoints are capable of that.

TiradeFaction said...

I think you both have good points here. Sam has a good point, the Occupy Wall Streeters (err, what is exactly the plural wording for them??) and the Tea Partiers may have some significantly important differences that would make cooperation hard. Obviously the Occupy Wall Streeters on average tend to bend more to the left, and the Tea Partiers more on the right. However, as you even point out, many Republicans are in fact, supportive of Medicare, Social security, and higher taxes on the rich. It's harder to get these points across since polling really does depend on how you word questions, and people tend to react differently to the essentially the same question if worded differently. Like for example, ask most Americans if they want "SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!" and most would go "OH MY GOD NO!", but if you word it differently and say "A public option in Health care", support tends to shoot up much higher. The word for example, "public", tends to be more liked than, "government", or the slur of "socialist". The point I'm trying to make is, there's a lot more similarities that are often obscured with misleading polling data. There's of course, still many significant differences, but they do have an important similarity, both groups are most definitely populist. If they could come together, work out a consensus, and moderate each other, then it might be possible to get some sort of united populist front movement in the US. Only time will tell of course.