An Alliance Between the Tea Party and #Occupy Movements is the Beginning of the End of the Ruling Political Establishment

Arguably, Tea Party and #Occupy activists have much more in common than either side would like to admit.  Whatever the differences between the two may be, the Tea Party's opposition to big government and the Occupy movement's opposition to big business are complimentary grievances.  Big business is among the biggest supports for big government and big government is among the biggest supports for big business.  In a number of posts here at Politea, I have urged Tea Party activists to become involved in the Occupy protest movement, but it is also necessary for Occupy activists to engage their counterparts in the Tea Party movement.  The AP recently reported on a meeting between Occupy and Tea Party activists in Memphis Tennessee:
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.


Solomon Kleinsmith said...

I follow a lot of these groups, by emails, discussion boards, facebook pages and whatnot, as well as have met with local area groups in person... and I can tell you I think you're in la la land if you think these people will work together on anything but a very narrow and limited basis, and more than likely not even that given widespread hatred and vilification of the other among rank and file members, as well as the outside organizations that have influence over the movements.

d.eris said...

Personally, I don't think they would have to work on anything more than a narrow and limited basis, though I do think a deeper progressive/libertarian alliance would do a lot of good for the politics in this country, and not only because it would result in the collapse of the stupid Republican/Democrat binary.

Liberal Arts Dude said...

Re Solomon's point: I wrote the articles in TPID. I've also been obsessively following these groups online for about a couple of years now. I'm in agreement with Damon that Tea Party and Occupy folks don't need to work together on anything other than on a very narrow and limited basis to make some sort of strong impact. Some things to consider:

1) The two-hour Memphis meeting between the two groups had an astonishing number of media hits in mainstream media -- this indicates to me that there is widespread interest in this sort of cooperation happening.

2) When the two groups did meet, despite strong detractors and controversy within each group, there were people on both sides who had glowing, positive things to say about the experience and each other. They celebrated finding common ground as Americans and cited the meeting as an exercise of democracy in action. Pretty strong stuff in my opinion.

3) When I pointedly asked the participants in my questionnaire if they would consider working with individuals in the other group on specific, nonpartisan projects such as "removing or reducing the influence of money out of the political process" the ones who answered my questionnaire said yes. I admit, it was a just a few individuals who answered my questionnaire. But the answers they gave point to at least, some members of these groups willing to entertain the notion of working together.

4) I posit a specific type of Tea Party member as more likely to work with Occupy -- the anti-Establishment Tea Party member, who is not loyal to the Koch Brothers/Freedomworks/Republican Party agenda. This is best exemplified by Tea Party founder Karl Denninger who have made strong public statements repudiating the current incarnation of the Tea Party which has been coopted by the Republican Party and who has endorsed the Occupy movement. I don't think Karl Denninger is alone in the way he thinks among the Tea Party folks.

Strictly my opinion: if a nonpartisan group which deals with a specific issue that both anti-Establishment Tea Party folks and Occupy folks can agree on manage to attract members of both groups to work under its umbrella, we can see whether or not it is possible for members of both groups to work with one another.

Such a joint effort, I think, is unlikely to happen as a cross-endorsed effort by the Tea Party and the Occupy movement. But there is nothing preventing individuals who happen to be members of the Tea Party and Occupy to work together under the umbrella of another organization. Something along the lines of United Republic ( whose mission of getting the influence of money out of politics and democracy should be very attractive as an experimental project to members of both groups.