By Robert Schlesinger |
According to respected pollster Doug Schoen, the following numbers represent an accurate cross-sampling of the Occupy Wall Street folks on Wall Street:
Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, virtually all (98%) say they would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and nearly one-third (31%) would support violence to advance their agenda.
Having personally attended hundreds of Tea Party events across the nation, and having had direct conversations with thousands of Tea Partyers, I can tell you that these two groups of people could not be more different. The vast majority of Tea Partyers have never participated in a political movement before, most are not fans of civil disobedience, and virtually none would say that they would support violence to advance their agenda. They are patriotic, flag-carrying, America-loving, capitalist believers in American exceptionalism.
If you've never been to a Tea Party rally or meeting, before you compare Tea Partyers to the folks populating the "Occupy" movement, I suggest that you try attending both. I have. The contrast is stark.
Late last week, I attended the Occupy Sacramento rally in Cesar Chavez Plaza in downtown Sacramento. There I found a small group of folks, the majority of whom literally couldn't tell me why they were there. There was a lot of talk of Marxism and socialism (most couldn't define either when asked), and there was a lot of talk of helping the homeless. There was a little discussion in the generic "Wall Street is evil" format, but nothing coherent.
There were between 40 and 50 "occupiers" in attendance. The smell of marijuana wafted in the air, there were signs that said "F*** Corporate Greed," and Marxist and socialist literature was displayed on the main table under a canopy. I spent almost two hours looking for someone, anyone, who could assist me with a cogent discussion of why they were there. None could. Tea Partyers have been accused of a lot of things, but not knowing why we're engaged is not one of them. We're tired of the fiscal irresponsibility of our government and we're fighting to save the country.
In two hours of attempts, the only cogent discussion I was able to have at the Occupy Sacramento event was with a middle-aged gentleman who said he was a member of the local ACLU board. When I asked him what he was doing there, he said, "trying to help them," motioning to the group of confused protesters I'd met. When I asked him why he thought they were there he said, "These people have no idea what they are doing here." He went on to describe how he'd organized many anti-war protests over the years, and he was disgusted by what was taking place in Cesar Chavez Plaza, both for its lack of any coherent message and its seemingly aimless direction.
For once, someone on the far left and I are in complete agreement.
About Mark Meckler National Coordinator of Tea Party Patriots
Robert Weissman President of Public Citizen
Reniqua Allen Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation
Douglas Schoen Democratic Campaign Consultant