Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Key Differentiator

There's been a great deal of debate in the media and on the blogosphere lately concerning the nascent "Occupy Wall Street" movement that has recently taken to the streets to protest social inequality and the corruption of our governing institutions by moneyed interests. Much of that commentary has focused on the question of whether these protests represent a left-wing answer to the Tea Party. And yet in all these discussions commentators have missed a key differentiator between Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party: timing.

The Tea Party allegedly arose as a movement that was concerned about America's mounting Federal debt. And yet, it is a movement that did not exist in any form between 2000 and 2008 when a Republican president and Republican majorities in both houses of congress presided over a doubling of the national debt. Those of us who have been following politics closely for many years were hardly surprised by this, since concern about the Federal debt among Republicans is a purely opprtunistic, tactical move designed to weaken their Democratic opposition by mobilizing public opinion against them. In reality, Republicans have never cared enough about the Federal debt to make a significant debt, even, in the yearly deficit. In this sense, the Tea Party is merely an instrument of GOP policy, a purely Astro Turfed movement (even if its followers, in many cases, do not recognize themselves as such).

What differentiates the Occupy Wall Street movement, then, is that it has risen in the midst of a Democratic presidential administration, and until recently, was viewed with great skepticism by the Democratic party leadership. It is a truly organic, grass rootsmovement, not a instrument of the political opposition. I expect that we'll see more of this movement, well into the next few years, regardless of who wins the presidency.

I'll have more thoughts on this tomorrow (work becons!)

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