Has anyone heard from the Tea Party lately? Since the Occupy Wall Street movement has grown exponentially in recent weeks, the Tea Party has been conspicuous in its relative absence from the news. Not that I mind, but what I think happened to them is pretty interesting.
The Occupy Wall Street movement, what I like to call The OccuParty, has found much more support than the Tea Party ever could, and has grown just as fast, perhaps faster than the Tea Party did. Here’s Why:
- The OccuParty has aimed its frustration, anger and outrage at the correct target – Corporate America. For all its populist swagger, the Tea Party kept trying to blame the government, President Obama, Communists, Socialists, and your grandma for the ills of America. Much of what’s wrong with America is that we are no longer a nation of, by and for the people – we are a nation of, by and for corporate interests. The rights of corporate personhood have replaced the rights of flesh and blood personhood. This is common sense stuff. For a wonderful curriculum on Corporate Personhood, Constitutional law and the problems it has created for us (and how to fix this situation) see The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund’s Danial Pennock Democracy School online. I’m certainly not the only one, nor the first one to notice this about the Tea Party. Doug Muder has a great essay about this here.
- The OccuParty isn’t overtly racist. This may be obvious, but I’m still not sure that the Tea Party understands how ugly and racist they seem to so many people. The obsession with President Obama’s birth certificate and the image of just being a bunch of angry white people really put a damper on any chance they had of being anything but a regional or fringe movement. The Occuparty may not be perfect, but it is far cry from the Tea Party when it comes to race and religion. The Tea Party let race and religion limit their message. I heard a comedian on television the other night say, “When did unemployment become a crisis? When white people became unemployed.” There’s a lot of truth in that. Unemployment, lack of health care, poverty and a host of other ills in our corporately controlled culture have been issues in communities of color for decades. Now that they are major issues for white people, first the Tea Party (who tried to blame people of color for these problems) and then the Occuparty (who at least seem to realize that we’re all in this together, even if it took white people being affected to get everyone in the streets).
- The OccuParty is trying to be nonviolent. The Occuparty has a host of issues – the banking system, corporate greed and control, democratic reform, poverty, jobs, health care, and so on, but so far it is not making the Second Amendment one of the sound byte reasons to get into the street. This is smart. As much as Americans in general may or may not favor the right to bear arms, guns just equal violence for many people. So do targets superimposed on congressional districts. The Tea Party may be in actuality just as nonviolent as the OccuParty, it may not be, but the Tea Party sure seems more violent to me or at least angrier and more inclined to violence. This is another reason its audience was always limited to the angriest white people.