Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

Occupy Wall Street not a perfect facsimile of the Tea Party, but something of a warped reflection

In many ways, Occupy Wall Street is starting to look more -- and less -- like the Tea Party. And apparently, the Tea Party doesn't like it.

According to Tea Party Patriots founders Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler, the two movements couldn't possibly be less alike.

"Tea Partiers don’t believe corporations are inherently evil, nor should bankers be beheaded," they wrote in a statement. "They do not believe this country should be divided by class, but united in a return to the principles that undergird our nation’s success. In fact, they want more of what made America great: more Constitutional restraint on government so that the people have more freedom to achieve the good things the country offers."

“By contrast, those occupying Wall Street and other cities, when they are intelligible, want less of what made America great and more of what is damaging to America: a bigger, more powerful government to come in and take care of them so they don’t have to work like the rest of us who pay our bills,” they continue.

There are a lot of differences between the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. There's no questioning that.

For example, more than 2/3 of Occupiers are non-voters. Comparatively, Tea Partiers are overwhelmingly voters.

Considering that one of the common grievances each movement shares is that the political system doesn't work for them, at least one thing can be said for the Tea Party: they, at least, try.

Another obvious key difference is that the Tea Party is overwhelmingly law-abiding. Occupy Wall Street has had some trouble staying on that side of the law, and may have further trouble yet, as they plan to march on the homes of Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers.

Yet each has draped themselves in the garb of a revolutionary movement. The Tea Party traced its animus back to the American Revolution. Occupy Wall Street seems to be inspired by the labour unrest of the Great Depression era.

Both movements demand that American politics shift away from its soul-crushing status quo toward what they consider the founding principles of the United States. In the case of the Tea Party, they look to the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. In the case of Occupy Wall Street, they very clearly look to the New Deal, and hope to expand it far beyond the imagination of all but the most fervent tax-and-spend Democrat.

It's certain that many Occupiers feel just as strongly as Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler about the comparisons between Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party.

Just as with so many rivals, the real reason Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party dislike each other is because they are so much alike.

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