There are many differences between the tea party and the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, but perhaps the most significant is this: on Election Day, tea partiers will make it to the polls to vote while many of the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters will be to busy smoking weed to remember to cast a ballot.
I know that may sound juvenile, but it is hardly off base.
Having visited with Washington, D.C.’s version of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests on multiple occasions, it is abundantly clear we are not dealing with a new phenomenon. We are dealing with a usual left-wing protest composed of a smorgasbord of focuses. You have those focused on wanting to end America’s wars, or perhaps all wars (with the exception, of course, for noble campaigns like the Cuban Revolution). You have union supporters. You have those focused on blaming corporations and successful businessmen for all the world’s ills. You have those who want the government to give them this and those who want to give them that. And so on and so forth.
That is, of course, if they can even explain what they are protesting about. Many simply give obtuse, buffoonish sounding answers to that question. There is certainly no laser like focus on any single issue.
Which, of course, is why the tea party has been so effective. Budgetary issues, particularly America’s ballooning debt, and reducing government interference in the economy are far and way the main concerns of the tea party movement. This is why you can have Ron Paul supporters and Marco Rubio supporters working together under one tent. If foreign policy became a significant issue of focus for the tea party, the movement would become unfocused, not to mention fracture along Paul-Rubio lines. I think this fracture is ultimately inevitable because you can’t ignore foreign policy issues (and social issues) forever, but to date this laser-like focus is what has made the tea party movement such a powerful political force, especially during the 2010 midterm elections.
Then there is the issue of the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters being out of their minds. I don’t say this because I disagree with them politically — which I do on nearly every issue. I say this because of videos like the one below. What you will see is not an anecdote. It is process. Anyone who would engage in such bizarre, cult-like behavior is totally unserious and more likely ape-shit insane. What’s more, this is hardly an effective way to make decisions.
This is not to say that Wall Street is beyond criticism. Wall Street banks certainly deserve part of the blame for America’s recent economic problems. Michael Lewis has documented this well in two excellent books, “The Big Short” and “Boomerang.” But imposing exorbitant taxes on the rich is not going to save us from impending economic catastrophe. Only serious and drastic entitlement reform, something that none of the many signs I saw the protesters carrying seemed to promote, and policies to promote serious economic growth will.
But just as asinine as many of the protesters has been some of the commentary about them. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and others have referred to the protests as the American version of the Arab Spring. It is hard to imagine a sillier comparison. Arab revolutionaries were fighting against entrenched dictatorships that could have and did use deadly violence to suppress them.
The “Occupy Wall Street” protesters won’t be tortured and there is no threat they will be mowed down. And if they want to change America’s leaders, they don’t need to forcefully overthrow a tyrant. They need to build a large enough coalition and vote.
Literally occupying Wall Street indefinitely will only earn them derision, not political success.