Should "Occupy" Emulate the Tea Party?

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If you Google that question, "Should Occupy Emulate the Tea Party", you'll get more than a million hits. It seems like a lot of people have an opinion about this. I still hear pundits (and even some of my friends) suggest that "Occupy" should take a lesson from the Tea Party and infiltrate politics. Personally I think it would be a really bad idea. Those who propose it point to the great success the Tea Party had in sending their choice of candidates to Washington but was that success? Did the Tea Party rank and file really send a troop of like minded patriots to Congress or were they just duped into supporting a host of opportunists with dubious motives? I'd suggest it's the latter. As Thom recently pointed out, the entire Tea Party Caucus has taken money from Wall Street bankers and they have lined up to support the policies that those bankers desire. Between the debt ceiling debacle and their crony, Washington insider behavior the Tea Party freshmen class has only distinguished itself as an epic failure.

In my opinion "Occupy Wall Street" should avoid the pitfall that the "Tea Party" rushed headlong into. As a movement that does not endorse a party or particular candidates it will not tie itself to a rigid structure and it will not make itself dependant upon the loyalty of people who's loyalty has been put on the auction block by our Supreme Court. OWS can remain free to press for results from the system as a whole rather than relegate itself to acting as an arm of one party or the other as the Tea Party has with the Republican party. Because the Tea Party behaved in a "knee jerk" reaction sort of way the movement betrayed itself as nothing more or less than disaffected Republicans (who can blame them after Dubya) and its rank and file membership squandered any real opportunity at reform by letting themselves be manipulated into putting all of their energy into electing the above described gang of opportunists.

So, that's my opinion but what do you think? Should OWS emulate the Tea Party and rush into electoral politics or should it continue to consolidate popular support and pressure all of our societal structures from the outside?

mdhess's picture
Apr. 9, 2010 11:43 pm


OWS and the Tea Party are based on completely different reads of the political system and where those involved feel their place in it has gone. And I do mean "gone" in a very real sense.

As some of those involved, who have even put themselves in symbolic positions to be arrested, and have been arrested, and do some of the inspirational writing that reflects the spirit of OWS have said (I'm paraphrasing): The U.S. has experienced a corporate coup d'etat, they won, we lost. All we have left is non violent rebellion. Not even revolution. That's what it means to "occupy" -- basically to stand our ground and re-occupy what's being privatized and taken, which is, essentially, democracy. It's more like a voiceless, i.e. mute rebellion so far.

An OWS rebellion is about reoccupying our nation as fully realized human beings with all our flaws, reconnecting to each other with our full humanity, not returning to our objectified, commodified, divided and conquered roles as plasticized, magazine profiled and prettified consumers.

It's been difficult for corporate America to recognize this, and of course that includes corporate America's voice, our mainstream media. They need to objectify and define the movement. If they are able to, then they can control it through their highly refined mass propaganda measures and the coup d'etat continues to grind our humanity into pulp to be reformed into plastic Barbie and Ken dolls.

If OWS emulates the Tea Party it won't be OWS anymore.

.ren's picture
Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

What-remove 80% of your brain?

May. 8, 2012 12:06 pm

How do you get money out of politics? How do you get politicians in office who will do what they say? I believe the Occupy movement does have to integrate an aspect of explicit political campaigning. Occupy began over political considerations and as an expression of fundamental political rights, or the human rights which occupiers demand the government respect. These natural rights, grounded in reality and standing the test of history, are being asserted in the contest for power by those whose interests are no longer fully or properly represented through the system. How can we ignore that the speech to which Occupy claims a right is in its nature inclusive of a set of political demands?

You get money out of politics by not using money to elect representatives. If so many are willing to take on massive tasks of social transformation, including reworking the economy and its relation to ecological awareness, then how can we shirk from the task of realizing the political rhetoric Occupy has invoked in order to unite disparate voices? Leaders must be chosen from the people, and people must finally learn what it really means to elects someone from "outside" the cabal of intriguing insiders of the power establishment. Obama ran on the promise that he would bring an outsider's (the people's) perspective to power. If we allow our disillusionment with the results of his election to cause us to forget this agenda, then we will fail to identify the key issue concerning the contest for power.

The result would be an absurdity: a movement, forswearing the "political", retaining its momentum only through the discourse informed by a range of perspectives inclusive of the very ideas and philosophies which would demand an answer to many of the same practical questions of leadership, organization, or authority. The perspective or arguments of anarchy, anti-authoritarianism, anti-westernism, etc. may form part of the discourse but has not provided a viable alternative or even, so far as I have seen, a credible or valid comprehensive perspective.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

How do you influence public policy without getting like minded individuals elected?

WorkerBee's picture
Apr. 28, 2012 12:22 pm

Excellent point, WorkerBee. The political composition of elected offices, both legislative and executive, will determine if anything positive will ever take place in government, anything that would further the goals of the Occupy movement participants. At the recent Nato summit protests on the streets of Chicago, the number of protesters was only a fraction of the number many had predicted would show up, and several local news reporters wondered if the message of the protesters was not being diluted almost completely due to the multiplicity of issues that were being raised with the different signs carried by proesters. The reporters were suggesting that the protests lacked focus and therefore did not have a coherent message. They had difficulty in stating just what the protests meant. I found that the most prominent messages were to end the war in Afghanistan and to end the existence of Nato. There were other themes, many of which had to do with the excesses of the 1% or generalized criticisms of capitalism that I had the impression were also to be found.

What if, just for the sake of argument, Romney won the election and the Republicans kept control of the House and gained strength, God forbid, in or took control of the Senate? What good would the protests do then? The protesters are making a noble effort, to be sure, but I don't see very much organizational planning and effort, and financing to increase the numbers of participants and number of locations where demonstrations take place.

One thing that I believe is needed is for people especially in WIsconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and maybe from some other places start holding large protests in different cities in Southeast Wisconsin, in Rep. Paul Ryan's district. The people there need waking up pehaps more than anyplace else in the whole country. Protests in front of both our U.S. Capitol and the U.S. Supreme Court seem to be lacking, but necessary to show where much of the problem lies. In fact, I have heard that in a few places, mostly out West somewhere, like in Colorado, there are a very small number of "official" Occupy Democratic candidates. It may not be as important, however, to endorse candidates as to start directly some of the criticisms directly to candidates who are in bed with corporate lobbyists and also who have a belief in social Darwinism, the cruel and rather sadistic approach to the needs of those who are have problems beyond their control. The idea that everyone has the same amount of control over events in one's life, or that some rich financial executive like Jon Corzine or Jamie Dimon can control multi-billion dollar high-risk investments so that there is no danger of losing a whole lot of money, is at the heart of many of the problems of bad public policy which lead to economic failings.

Robindell's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

antikakistocrat's picture
Apr. 18, 2012 3:41 pm

I think this image sums it up.

antikakistocrat's picture
Apr. 18, 2012 3:41 pm

There's a 1 in 20 Chance of the Apocalypse. Shouldn't We Act Now?

A new study published in Science argues that we as a civilization need to move "rapidly" -- as in almost immediately -- towards a carbon emissions free future if we are to have any chance of holding off runaway global warming:

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