Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Occupy Wall Street Phenomenon on the left = The Tea Party on the right?

Not quite.

We turn briefly to Occupy Wall Street, because people, including the president, continue to compare it to the tea party. It is not the tea party. The tea party was a middle-class uprising that was only too happy to funnel its energy into the democratic process. They took their central concerns—spending, taxes and regulation—and followed the prescription of Joe Hill: Don't mourn, organize. They did. They entered politics and helped win elections. They did the Republicans a big favor by not going third-party but working within the GOP—at least for now.

Occupy Wall Street is completely different. They mean to gain power and sway by going outside the political system. They are a critique of the political system. They went to the streets and stayed there.

They are not funneling their energy into the democratic process because there is no market for what they are selling: Capitalism should be overturned, I am angry that my college loan bills are so big, the government is bad, and the answer is more government. You can't win elections in America with that kind of message. So they will stay in the streets, where they can have an impact by stopping traffic, inconveniencing people going to and coming from work, and appearing to be an amorphous force that must be bowed to.

The difference between the occupiers and the tea party is the difference between acting out and taking part.

From Peggy Noonan's column in this morning's WSJ.

And her final paragraph is too good to leave out:

Where is Mr. Obama in all this? He has made sympathetic sounds about Occupy Wall Street, probably seeing it as ultimately part of his base. Beyond that, he's out campaigning. Sometimes he is snarky about Congress: He's giving them "another chance" at voting on his jobs bill. Sometimes he is self-justifying. He told ABC's Jake Tapper that "all the choices we've made have been the right ones." Sometimes he lectures America. But he doesn't buck it up, and he must know in his heart that it's coming for the keys.


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