Don Roach: Occupy & the Tea Party – Twins Separated at Birth

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Middle America, when will we learn? I get frustrated by the pundits who seek to stratify the middle class into various segmented groups – corporate middle managers, factory workers, teachers, tradesmen, etc – and seek to use the differences among us as a way of rallying political support for whatever is the cause of the day.

I see it happening all over again with this Occupy movement. I’m sure I’ve mentioned here and elsewhere my disdain of those who have tried to marginalize the Tea Party movement as a meeting of two hillbillies who don’t have a job or education. These same pundits now lauding Occupy have sought to derail the Tea Party movement for the last couple of years. It’s ridiculous how quickly they’re salivating over this new group while trying to dismiss the Tea Party over the last two years. If you allow me, I’d like to show you two pictures:

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Can you tell which picture comes from a Tea Party rally and which came from an Occupy rally? Pehaps you can, but the overall message of the two groups is the same – people are pissed. And for good reason. They want their jobs back!

‘The Man’ and the ‘Establishment’ are the same

There’s a growing sense that ‘The Man’(Big corporations) and the ‘Establishment’ (Big government) are impeding growth and have actually taken steps to make things worse. It seems as if the people who make up these groups are doing all they can to keep the rest of us down. Perhaps it’s not that intentional and instead the folks at the top are doing all they can to stay there even at the expense of middle America. Either way, the result of government intervention and corporate incompetence are essentially the same.

Last week, Pat Nee made this point about the unrest facing our economy:

"While the Establishment has coddled the giants of industry, the majority of job creation and growth has come from small business and entrepreneurs, and this is the only way forward out of our current economic malaise. These are start-ups and small companies who cannot afford K Street lobbyists and an army of lawyers and accountants. The barriers to entry protect the powerful and stifle everyone else. As a result, the American economy suffers, and the American worker suffers."

Through bail outs, our government has rewarded bad corporate behavior and in the instance of Obamacare, has gone so far as to become the corporation within the marketplace. As Nee accurately points out, small business suffers and in rewarding bad behavior, we can only expect said behavior to continue.

Meanwhile, regular MINDSETTER Tom Sgouros had this to say about the Occupy Wall Street protestors:

"The people in Zuccoti Park are -- like me -- upset over the power of corporations and big finance over life in modern America. They -- we -- are furious about what can only be described as the sheer irresponsibility of the people in charge of those banks and corporations, not to mention the occasional outright incompetence. That's what this is about."

See anything similar in the commentary between Nee and Sgouros? I do. The ‘Establishment’ and ‘corporations’ could be interchanged and the meaning remain the same.

Occupy and Tea Party see the same problem, cast blame differently

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Thus, what is becoming clear to me is that the Tea Party and Occupy protestors have touched upon a problem in the US – middle America is hurting. Whether you’re a union factory worker or a non-union small businessman you’re feeling the pain. I’m not sure if unemployment lines care if you’re a Democrat or Republican, honestly. I doubt your unemployment check is larger or smaller if you are pro-life or not. If you think parolees shouldn’t have the right to vote, that doesn’t factor much in your employer’s ability to sustain profitability and keep you employed. These two grassroots movements both identify that the economy is in trouble and those at the controls of the economy have done a piss poor job of keeping things humming.

However, where blame is cast is different…worlds apart even. Tea Partiers believe government intervention and tax policies – read: taxing too much – have hurt the economy. Occupy protestors feel corporations and their excess/incompetence have brought us to this situation.

So who’s right and where should we cast blame?

My answer is that it doesn’t really matter – too many Americans are out of work.

A novel idea – focus on what unites instead of divides

Obviously, understanding the problem will enable us to come up with solutions that lower unemployment rates and put people back to work. However, I’d like to tell members of the Tea Party and Occupy that the boards of corporations are laced with former government policy wonks and politicians. The point is there is enough blame to go around.

What would be radical, what would be revolutionary, would be for the folks who want jobs to join forces and tell our government and corporations that we wish to hold them both accountable for our economy.

Let’s collectively to say, No mas!, and start a real conversation about the direction of this country’s economy. Will both groups agree on everything? Certainly not. But let’s stop the rhetoric about Occupy just being a bunch of union hacks or the Tea Party being only backed by right-wing nut jobs. Both groups are buttressed by regular people who are fed up with what’s going on. Both groups contain people who’ve been hurt by the actions taken by corporations and our government. And both groups want change.

‘The Man’ and the ‘Establishment’ would rather we fight each other resulting in the status quo. They’d rather Tea Partiers degrade Occupy-ers and vice versa. That only helps perpetuate what’s been going on in this country the last few decades.

So I challenge my Tea Party and Occupy compatriots to do something truly radical – join together. If we do, there’s no limit to the change we can bring. If we don’t there’s no limit to the excess of government intervention and corporate incompetence we’ll have to endure. But we’ll only have ourselves to blame this time.

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