Lawrence Lessig: Tea partiers, ‘occupiers’ should seek common ground

Jamie Coughlin Contributor
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Do left-wing Washington, D.C. “Occupiers” and right-wing tea partiers have anything in common?

One collective of the politically disenfranchised and unemployed hangs out in public parks, marching and chanting “banks got bailed out, we got sold out.” The other tends to wave flags more than hand-made signs, but its middle-class workers and small business owners are just as disappointed in their government.

The two groups’ tactics may be worlds apart, but both populist movements both sorely want political change.

Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig spoke to “Occupy DC” protesters in McPherson Square Tuesday night about how the two factions should seek common ground.

Are occupiers and tea partiers one and the same? from Medill Washington on Vimeo.

“We have got to find a way for these two very important populist movements to connect,” Lessig said. “My belief is that people on the left and the right both think this system of government is corrupted. They think it’s corrupted against their own interests, and they should recognize that it’s corrupted against the other side’s interests as well.”

“You look at what Congress does and you think it’s because of the money,” he added. “You can’t help but believe it’s the very tiny slice of America that is guiding what America does.” (RELATED: NPR host doubles as an Occupy DC spox, despite ethics violations)

With a U.S. political culture seemingly more polarized than ever before, could it ever happen? Could the flag-wavers and the slogan-chanters set aside their differences? We spoke to both sides, and the answer might surprise you.