There is an effort in the media to characterize the Occupy Wall Street movement as a political counter-weight to the TEA Party movement. An article in today’s New York Times is typical of that effort.
According to the article in the NY Times, the two movements share traits:
- They emerged out of nowhere but quickly became potent political forces, driven by anxiety about the economy, a belief that big institutions favor the reckless over the hard-working, grievances that are inchoate and even contradictory, and an insistence that they are “leaderless.” “End the Fed” signs — and even some of those yellow Gadsden flags — have found a place at Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street protests alike.
The article thought the major difference between the two movements was substantive – i.e., where to place the blame:
- While Occupy forces find fault in the banks and super-rich, the Tea Party movement blames the government for the economic calamity brought on by the mortgage crisis, and sees the wealthy as job creators who will lift the country out of its economic malaise. To them, the solution is less regulation of banks, not more.
Of course, this sort of article infuriates Tea Party partisans because for months they had to fight to earn credibility and legitimacy from the media, and now the media appears to be quickly handing over similar bona fides to a decidedly non-mainstream, unaccomplished movement. What fair-minded person would conclude that Occupy Wall Street, like the TEA Party, was a “potent political force”? Are you kidding?
The TEA Party is generally considered to be the dominant factor in one of the most important off-year elections. What has the Occupy movement accomplished?
I recently heard Al Sharpton claim that the Occupy movement deserved great credit for succeeding in getting the conversation in Washington away from the debt/deficit and towards job creation. I doubt that is true (and I certainly hope it isn’t), but it shows how hard the anti-TEA Party pundits are working to build up the bona fides of their protest organ.
All of this reminds me of the effort a few years ago to create liberal/progressive talk radio to provide a political counter-weight against Limbaugh, Hannity et al. The most famous of these was called Air America, which brought us Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow. After six years (2004-2010), however, Air America went broke and filed for bankruptcy because there weren’t enough listeners.
From a non-partisan perspective, it would be nice if the left develops a movement that is similar to the TEA Party in terms of energy and idealism. But America is not well-served by the media or anyone else granting bona fides to a group that has not yet earned them.