In the immortal words of Buffalo Springfield, "Nobody's right if everybody's wrong." Impeccable logic out of the mouths of hippies and young rockers.
I've been watching Occupy Wall Street with something akin to nostalgia. I can't help it; I was in elementary school during the height of the Vietnam War and the Hippie movement, and this new phenomenon feels so much like childhood memories. It might help that I have experienced both strictly through the TV, given that I was too young to participate back then and too sick to participate today.
I've also been enjoying the reporting by mystified pundits who are mostly badly misunderstanding the whole thing. Unfortunately, I've been far less cheered by the ugly conversations that have sprung up around this event, especially those that start with comparisons and contrasts of OWS to the Tea Party.
(If you think you've seen the words that follow before, you read them in a comment I posted here on Newsvine in one of those conversations. I decided to polish them up a little and complete my thoughts.)
The comparisons of OWS to the Tea Party are at the same time exactly on target and dead wrong.
They are on target in the sense that both groups came together and rose up with the same energy and the same frustration with the system. The thousands of people showing up at the Tea Party rallies in 2009 felt the same way the people on Wall Street feel today. When arguing against each other, those who are against OWS and those who are against the Tea Party need to recognize and admit this much, or they will just end up saying ridiculous things without any clue how ridiculous and off-base they are.
They are dead wrong because of a clear distinction that most of the main stream media, not to mention Fox, MSNBC, etc. are totally missing. Tea Party members don't like to admit it, because they want to somehow be seen as distinct from the GOP rather than as a faction within it, but thanks to their beginning right after the end of the 2008 presidential campaign, the people who were frustrated at that moment were largely those who had also voted for either McCain or Bob Barr or Ron Paul, or would have, had they gone to the polls.
Yes, these people were as mad at the establishment GOP as they were at the Dems, but they were still people who would lean Republican, so it was inevitable that they would see reforming the GOP as the path to reforming the Federal Government.
(Many Tea Partiers claim that there are ex-Dems in their ranks too, and I don't doubt them. I suspect there are fewer than there were in the past though, because I personally know a couple one-time Hillary Clinton supporters who were involved early on. They got out later when the Tea Party / GOP alignment solidified and the actual politics of the Tea Party became clearer.)
I have not only watched and read the news about OWS, I've searched out people posting, blogging and conversing who are actual participants. (Digital mobility is an amazing thing, isn't it?) I feel confident in my belief that OWS does not have a similar Democratic alignment.
Yes, there are a lot of clearly Leftist types scattered throughout, and they may be generally more inclined toward the Left than the Right as a group, but from all indications I have seen, they are far less homogenous. There are also people promoting Libertarian ideas standing next to them, as well as people promoting ideas much farther into the Socialist domain than any Democrat would be comfortable around. All in all, the occupiers have common ground only in the idea that the Government and the Financial sector are out of control , unaccountable to anyone and colluding to crush democracy and freedom.
Most significantly, contrary to the claims of right wing radio, Fox News, and many Tea Party posters, I have seen no evidence at all that what these people are demanding is a free ride and a welfare state. The two things I do see demanded more often than anything else are a) jobs and b) prosecution of those responsible for the Financial crisis.
Given the failure of the Obama administration to prosecute anyone on Wall Street and the delay in focusing on jobs, I don't really see these people being the 'Anti Tea Party', supporting Obama and opposing the GOP, the way many pundits on the Left seem to imagine, and given how peaceful they have kept the demonstrations (despite elements of the NYPD's best effort at trying to provoke them into violence), I definitely don't see them being the 'rabble' and 'human debris' that pundits on the Right have called them.