By Robert Schlesinger |
Occupy Wall Street is exciting those on the left who have hoped for their own Tea Party-esque groundswell of frustration. But is it the next Tea Party movement? Not quite. To be sure, there are many overlapping qualities shared by the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. Both movements began organically, born out of pent-up frustration, featuring a variety of voices that are loosely unified under a common banner.
Those sympathetic to Occupy Wall Street could say that the movement chiefly wishes for fairness and accountability. Those who support the Tea Party would say the same of their own movement.
Yet on the substance, the two movements differ significantly. While the Tea Party generally thinks the best way to disentangle corporate and government interests is to get the government less involved in business, the Occupy Wall Street movement's nebulous demands seem to call for greater regulation of business paired with government redistribution of resources. Furthermore, while Occupy Wall Street protesters seem focused on what the government or business owes to them, members of the Tea Party felt they were owed one simple thing: to be left alone.
It would be a mistake for conservatives and Republicans to dismiss Occupy Wall Street as unimportant. Plenty of Americans who aren't inclined to camp out in a park are still angry that unemployment remains over 9 percent, aren't comfortable bailing out big business, and are still profoundly frustrated about our financial and government institutions. These feelings are not confined to one party or ideology.
Yet the Tea Party had one key strength that Occupy Wall Street has not yet developed. The Tea Party had clear policy objectives to deal with the problems it decried: repeal Obamacare, lower taxes, cut spending. At this point it is unclear what would satisfy Occupy Wall Street, and how that is defined will make a big difference in the appeal of the movement beyond the far left.
About Kristen Soltis Anderson Pollster at Winston Group
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