By Robert Schlesinger |
Occupy Wall Street is not the next Tea Party movement. Broadly speaking, it has many of the same sentiments that led to the creation of the Tea Party--frustration and anger at a system that is failing many of its citizens, desire for a better way of life, and the belief that ordinary Americans can bring about change to the status quo. Yet Occupy Wall Street is a movement based solely on emotions, dreams, and ideas--perhaps well-intentioned ideas, but not tangible ones that can actually lead to revolutionary change. Perhaps it's my idealistic youth slipping away, but it seems to me that in order to create real revolution, you need more than just an idea, particularly more than an idea that seems to want to change the fundamental economic system of the country and the world.
While the Tea Party wants to change leadership and the direction of the nation, its members seem to want to do so within the realm of the current and historical political and economic structure. Essentially, they are proposing various evolutionary changes to the system (if you disagree with them, you may not be so kind to say that). And while they may say their platform is radical, it's not a total systematic overhaul. The Occupy Wall Street protesters want a radical revolution. But let's face it, even though change can occur through social and political movements, real systematic change is generally much slower, subtler, evolutionary, and incredibly political in nature--concepts this group shies away from.
So no, Occupy Wall Street is not the next Tea Party movement. But it's OK, they're not aiming to be anyway. It seems like its goal is social awareness, not concrete policy change. While the movement has gotten a lot of scrutiny for this tactic, capturing this sentiment of frustration is important, because it can actually spawn a group that is political and policy oriented, and that will become a be a true antithesis to the Tea Party. If this does happen (and it's highly likely), this new group will have money, publicity, and a natural base already lined up. Only then, perhaps, will we see a group that will follow in the footsteps of the Tea Party.
About Reniqua Allen Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation
Robert Weissman President of Public Citizen
Douglas Schoen Democratic Campaign Consultant
Mark Meckler National Coordinator of Tea Party Patriots