By Teresa Welsh |
“Occupy Wall Street” may be only a little over a month old, but the movement, which started in Zucotti Park in lower Manhattan, has spread to cities across America, and the world. The protests remind many of another grassroots movement that gave a voice to anger about the United States’ current economic crisis: the Tea Party. Observers are already calling “Occupy” the left’s Tea Party movement, many hoping that it could deliver progressives the same amount of political power that the Tea Party delivered to congressional conservatives after 2010 midterm elections. It is worth noting some “Occupy” protesters share similar demands as the Tea Party agenda, including an opposition to government bailouts and skepticism of Federal Reserve. Tea Party godfather and presidential candidate Ron Paul even lent some support to Occupy Wall Street protesters, saying, “If they were demonstrating peacefully, and making a point, and arguing our case, and drawing attention to the Fed—I would say, good!”
Yet not everyone agrees with the Occupy-Tea Party comparison. For one, critis say the Occupy movement lacks the clear political agenda that Tea Party successfully enumerates. Many Republican politicians who have appealed to Tea Partyers in the past are especially critical of Occupy Wall Street—both of its goal and its legitimacy as a peaceful political movement. House Majority leader Eric Cantor expressed “increasing concern” about the “mobs.” Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney called Occupy “dangerous” and “class warfare.” Many liberals are also hesitant to call it the next Tea Party, worried that the disparate group cannot be depended upon for electoral support.
Is Occupy Wall Street the next Tea Party movement? Here is Debate Club’s take:
Robert Weissman President of Public Citizen
Reniqua Allen Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation
Douglas Schoen Democratic Campaign Consultant
Mark Meckler National Coordinator of Tea Party Patriots