Occupy Memphis member Mallory Pope had just finished telling a group of about 75 tea party followers Thursday night that politicians should not allow themselves to be influenced by lobbyists and unions when she received an unexpected invitation.
"It sounds to me that y'all ought to be joining us," said Jerry Rains, a 64-year-old computer programmer and tea party member. "You have a lot of the same goals we have, which is to take our country back."
Pope and fellow Occupy Memphis protester Tristan Tran had a lively, sometimes strained and confrontational, but mostly civil discussion with members of the Mid-South Tea Party at a municipal meeting hall outside Memphis . . .
Intrigued by this assembly, Liberal Arts Dude began looking into the matter and has published two articles at Third Party Independent exploring the question of whether the Tea Party and #Occupy can work together. From Part 1:
On November 18, an article caught my eye in Yahoo News via the Associated Press: Occupy Memphis, tea party members meet. An actual, real-life meeting between members of the two groups! I was very excited to read about this. So excited, in fact, that I decided to do something which I thought was a bit crazy – I identified the key contacts in the article for both #OccupyMemphis and the Mid South Tea Party. Whenever I was able to obtain an email address to an actual person I sent an email. Otherwise, I relied on the respective websites, Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts and Google searches for information on how I can get in touch with the folks involved to submit a few questions I was dying to ask both groups.
Chief in my mind was getting an idea about my burning question: can Tea Party and #Occupy members actually work together towards common political goals? What happens when real-life #Occupiers and Tea Partiers meet and try to have a civil discussion? . . . . I wrote both the #OccupyMemphis and the Mid South Tea Party members nearly identical questionnaires . . .
LAD then goes on to provide the questions he sent along to both the local Tea Party and #Occupy groups, as well as their responses. Read the whole thing. In Part II of the article, LAD sums up his findings and argues that there is good reason to foster outreach between #Occupy and Tea Party groups across the country. Excerpt:
I don’t claim the respondents to my questionnaire to be a representative sample of all #Occupy and Tea Party membership, nor do I claim that they represent a comprehensive microcosm of the two movements’ memberships. What I am exploring is the question of whether or not the results of the questionnaire and content research of their web presence indicate good enough information to justify more efforts at experimental outreach between the two groups.
Can #Occupy and Tea Party members work with one another towards common political goals? The Memphis meeting showed that there are #Occupy and Tea Party members eager for some sort of outreach between the two groups and when such a meeting did happen, had overwhelmingly positive and respectful things to say about and one another. Moreover, there seems to be a desire and a willingness to continue the conversation beyond the initial meeting and answers in the affirmative when directly asked if they were willing to work together on specific projects. I would have to say that the results of my unscientific mini-study gave good enough reasons to justify further experimentation along these lines.