The Occupy protests have spread to Sarasota and continue expanding, but to what end no one seems to know — including the demonstrators. The philosophies expressed in endless interviews range from incoherent to Marxist, with the stray libertarian throw in.
But one thing is clear. The occupiers are not the tea party in the way some commentators would like. But there is one sense in which the occupiers and the tea party are alike: They are both natural outcomes of the two broad ideologies that divide the country.
The tea party is the natural product of the right, focusing on personal responsibility, faith, family, capitalism, individualism and traditional America. It is made up of people who go to work daily, make products and offer services, pay taxes and serve the community. They love the country and are proud to be Americans. In essence, despite a media caricature, they are not the extreme, but a chunk of the mainstream who make America work and want to save the American way of life.
The occupiers are the natural outcome of the grievance-oriented, redistributive left at the core of modern progressivism. They are filled with students, the unemployed and the angry. They largely don’t pay taxes, they take taxes. They do not produce, they consume. They are not out to preserve the American way of life but to destroy it for some undefined alternative.
Tea party members show up for a few hours at a rally or event because they have jobs and families. The occupiers, by definition tend to stay put because they do not have jobs and most do not appear to be supporting families. Plus, it turns out that some of the protesters have been paid to show up at some events, and there is growing evidence that there has been quite a bit of union efforts involved.
The occupiers have brought litter, disorder and stench to their permanent demonstrations on Wall Street — part of living on the street. The tea party is noted for leaving the Washington, D.C., mall cleaner than it found it. In hundreds of events, there has never been one tea party arrest. The occupiers’ protests have seen 700 arrests so far.
Tea partyers have a general idea of where most of the problems lie, and that is with government policies and government getting in bed with big business and Wall Street. (Think automaker bailouts.) Therefore we need new public policies.
The occupiers look mostly at the rich, and see the solution in destroying what is, without really knowing what they want to replace it with. Socialist utopia is a well-documented nightmare. And destruction without purpose is never, ever good.
Tea party events are resplendent with American flags, kids in strollers and a list of specific policy changes. The occupiers, not so much.
No, despite many attempts to cast them as the same kind of groups, just different ideologies, these two groups are not alike at all — except where they represent the natural outgrowth of the two dominant philosophies.
So what is it that occupies the occupiers’ minds? We asked Gov. Rick Scott his thoughts on the occupiers when he was at the Observer Group office Monday. His first response was: “What do they want?”
No one seems to know. Even by street protest standards, there is such ignorance and silly student hyperbole as to make it laughable.
In the Occupy Sarasota demonstrations last week, the group was more eclectic than the original Wall Street group, with lots of typical college kids, the unemployed and a smattering of older people.
The comments, though, remained vague at best.
There was a strong anti-capitalist theme running through the signs and the comments of protesters, including by those who were in college, apparently not understanding that when they eventually graduate to the real world they will be seeking employment from capitalists — unless, of course, they get jobs with government, which, of course, is funded by taxpayers who earn their livelihoods via capitalism.
The occupiers look to be bent on destruction, and my prediction is that is exactly what will begin to happen more.
Tea partyers clean up and build.
The two are not remotely the same.
Rod Thomson can be reached at email@example.com.
Currently 11 Responses
- Ann Coulter calls the Occupy Wall Street crowd the Flea Partiers. I think it's a moniker that will stick.
- Norma Brown, you are right on. Thank you.
- 'Tea party' protesters accused of spitting on lawmaker, racial using slurs
By Paul Kane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 20, 2010; 10:25 PM
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus said that racial epithets were hurled at them Saturday by angry protesters who had gathered at the Capitol to protest health-care legislation, and one congressman said he was spit upon. The most high-profile openly gay congressman, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), was heckled with anti-gay chants.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) issued a statement late Saturday saying that he was spit upon while walking to the Capitol to cast a vote, leading the Capitol Police to usher him into the building out of concern for his safety. Police detained the individual, who was then released because Cleaver declined to press charges.
- I worked on Wall Street at one time, I am pro capitalism, I am employed, I take a shower on a daily basis, and was not paid to protest with the occupiers. I am protesting because congress has become the biggest money laundering operation in the world and does nothing for the people. The original tea party was for similar reasons as the occupiers. They were more like us occupiers then the current tea partiers. The current Tea Party people degrade the original tea party, that great event in our history, with their comments here and should not be allowed to use that name. If you were all back in 1776 you would have been making the same disparaging remarks about the patriots.
- You write, "Tea partyers have a general idea of where most of the problems lie, and that is with government policies and government getting in bed with big business and Wall Street. (Think automaker bailouts.) Therefore we need new public policies." and "So what is it that occupies the occupiers’ minds?...No one seems to know...."
In 15 seconds of using google, I find, "...the central demand of the protest is that President Obama "ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington" and "...this protest represents a variety of demands with a common statement about government corruption and the excessive influence of big business and the wealthiest 1% of Americans on U.S. laws and policies."
These goals are the opposite ends of the same problem. Too much government in business and too much business in government. Both the teapartyers and the occupiers want more balance; much like I want in your reporting. And now you know.
- Just drove by the Progressive Occupation forces camped out near the sailor statue. I didn't see any mess yet on Saturday afternoon, but I hope not to see them there on Sunday morning. These fools don't know what they stand for. There may be a lot of people if they were not just cluttering up a tourist attraction for everyone else who appreciates Sarasota. I hope Mayor Atwell stands up for Sarasota like the rooted local she seems to be and doesn't fold like Mayor Bloomberg in NYC. I'd be surprised if these fellow travelers had an official permission to clutter that corner.
- Thanks for your well-considered comments. I was in the first ever Tea Party protest in Sarasota and could not agree more. There is zero congruence between our objectives and those of the "dirty, smelly" protesters we see today. I spent years not only studying Marxism and the Soviet Union, but lived there in the 1980s as a US diplomat. I experienced first-hand what is what like, not just for me, but for ordinary Soviet citizens, to live in a society ruled by people who feel that their point of view is the only acceptable point of view, and who do not hesitate to use the worst means of force to silence opposition. Marxism -- did it ever bring light and joy to life? Never and nowhere. They can only maintain power through force and suppression. And yet this President in the White House and his cronies, such as Van Jones, Elizabeth Warren, and the "Occupy Wall Street" mobs, think it is okay to attempt to foist it on this great country. They are an embarassment ot enlightened thought and debate. The Tea Party protests seek to bring reason back to American government, the limited government that our forefathers enshrined in our Constitution. The Occupy Wall Streeters and the current Administration seek unlimited authority by the government and the shredding of the constitution. The same thing? I hardly think so.
- My View: Occupiers
Funny, this 68 year old attended the same "occupy Sarasota" and saw just the opposite. Your ' view' must have been obscured do to the position of your head up your derriere. This "reporting" is disengenuous at best and at least an outright distorion of the events. I invite those who have read your slanted view come to an event and form their own opinion. Obviously yours is quite jaundiced
- Seems as if you feel all protests should be wrapped up in nice packages with bows. I'm truly shocked the publishers of the Pelican Press/Observer allow this bigotry. Luckily this publication is delivered free otherwise my subscription would have been cancelled today.
- I understand that this is your opinion, but I feel that it would be enough for you to speak of idealogical differences without mentioning that the protesters you disagree with are dirty and smelly ( "litter, disorder and stench"). This, for me, detracted from the tone of the rest of the newspaper, which I truly enjoy.
- Great piece. The White House has created class warfare and it's permeated the minds of the unemployed, students and those with no brain cells to rub together. The federal government IS the problem. Not private business and capitalism which are what makes this country great.
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