Some of DrRich’s conservative friends become quite exercised when they hear news commentators in the major media favorably contrasting the Occupy Wall Street movement with the Tea Party.
The Tea Party, the news readers intone, is a phony “movement” dreamed up by the Koch brothers to embarrass our first black president and to consolidate their own wealth, for which they recruited hordes of superstitious, back-woods, gun-toting, ignorant, NASCAR-loving, Bible-thumping, bigoted Ma and Pa Kettles to gather on the Mall, along with their Fox News cheerleaders and their country music stars, in a futile attempt to intimidate the enlightened leaders of the Democratic party into abandoning their program of good works. The Occupy Movement, in contrast, is a spontaneous uprising of innocent and right-thinking citizens against the tyranny of the Republican-controlled Wall Street fat-cat oligarchy, and their noble efforts have been explicitly blessed by such luminaries as Obama, Biden, and Pelosi.
Conservative Americans have a different perspective: The Tea Party was a completely spontaneous expression of public disapproval of a federal government run amok, and its gatherings are notable for its respectful, clean, polite, hard-working, law-abiding participants. The Occupy Movement, in contrast, is a contrived, Soros-funded attempt to undermine the American system, and, as one might expect from such a travesty, the Occupadoes are filthy, lawless, selfish, lazy and unappreciative of the blessings of America, which they themselves (judging from their smartphones and college degrees) have demonstrably received.
What conservatives and progressives seem to agree upon, in the matter of the Tea Party vs. the Occupy Movement, is that one is disruptive and disreputable, while the other is enlightened and constructive. They simply differ on is which is which.
For the benefit of his readers, DrRich would like to point out that, despite the foregoing, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street actually have a fundamental similarity between them. They are both middle class movements which are motivated by a conviction that the American system is moving in the wrong direction, that a major feature of that “wrong direction” is that an elite few have gained power that has enabled them to block the upward mobility that is supposed to be a part of the American compact, and that a fundamental change is in order. The solutions they advocate are very different from one another, of course, but their problem statements are very similar. And, most significantly, they both arise from the middle class.
At least since around 1500 AD (since the time when we can say that a middle class was present in most Western societies) the true revolutions – rapid, fundamental changes in the political system (not merely in who is leading the political system, but in the system itself) – have come to pass only when the middle class has finally become sufficiently aroused to demand (or at least tolerate) radical change. The American revolution, the French revolution, the Cromwell revolution (and the subsequent restoration), the Iranian revolution, the Nazi takeover of Germany, the fall of the USSR, various Mexican and South American revolutions, and virtually every revolutionary political upheaval one can think of in the last 500 years occurred only when the middle class had finally had it.
Political leaders instinctively understand that they can treat the poor and downtrodden as badly as they want to, and they will never rise up. (This is where John Brown got it wrong.) And so, from the political standpoint, while it might be worthwhile stirring up the emotions of the poor (at least in a democracy), in general the actual needs of the poor can be safely ignored.
But the needs of the middle class must be seen to, at all costs.
This is why Democrats (and their supporters in the media) were so unreasonably critical of the Tea party movement when it first presented itself, painting it as violent, unAmerican and racist, despite the fact that no objective evidence supported any of these charges. They were frightened nearly unto death by the implications of such a widespread middle-class expression of dissatisfaction with the direction the country is going – a direction that had been manifest for decades, but which was greatly accelerated during the first years of the Obama Presidency.
And it explains why Republicans were so quick to identify with the Tea Party (even though the mainstream Republican party is actually quite suspicious of it).
And so, when the Occupy movement finally appeared – a different middle-class movement sporting a redistributive agenda that is in line with major elements of the Democratic party – our Democrat leaders could not contain their delight. This, despite the rather odious and “non-traditional” behavior of the Occupadoes, including their public defecation, urination, fornication, rapine, drug use, property destruction, &c, that, in more normal times, would have politicians of both parties lining up to vilify them. Democrats reassure themselves that, while the Occupadoes might be dirtbags, if we play our cards right they can become OUR dirtbags.
Smart politicians in both political parties recognize the potential for real revolution in both of these movements – to reiterate, that both arise out of the middle class, and both are demanding fundamental change – and they understand the need to co-opt the one, and suppress the other.
And so the battle lines are drawn. The Tea Party agenda, which is often unfairly summarized in diminished form as “smaller government and lower taxes,” actually is fighting to restore the Great American Experiment, as articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, whereby the autonomy of the individual is paramount. Under the GAE, the chief job of the government is to protect the citizenry from foreign aggressors, to grease the skids of a free economy, and to allow free Americans to strive as they will, and in doing so, the government may utilize only its very few, explicitly enumerated powers, and otherwise must stay out of the way.
In contrast, the agenda of the Occupy Movement is a levelling one. The fruits of America should be distributed equitably, so that there are no longer haves and have nots. Obviously, the only entity that can accomplish this feat is a strong, all-powerful Central Authority, which can confiscate the property of the “greedy” and award it to the “deserving.” Fundamentally this means that all property, in fact, is the government’s. To the Occupy supporters, while few of them will come out and say so, the Constitution is not a sacred document, but rather is an unfortunate and obsolete impediment to progress, a document that must be undermined and replaced.
To brush off either of these movements would be a mistake. Each of them is firmly grounded in the middle class; each of them discern a fundamental problem with the American system that can no longer be ignored; and each of them have already taken to the streets demanding that solutions cannot wait, and that action must be taken now.
But the two solutions being demanded by these two movements are not merely different; they are polar opposites, and are deeply irreconcilable.
Our political leaders have likewise taken sides, and the sides being irreconcilable, we can expect no cooperation or compromise between their two camps, at least not until we have another election in which the great, seething, conflicted middle class has an opportunity to say which of the two movements they have now spawned actually holds the key to their hearts.
This is a blog about the American healthcare system, and DrRich has not been bashful about expressing his belief that Obamacare – whatever good elements it may contain – is fundamentally a vehicle for undermining the autonomy of individual Americans, and handing to the government the authority to determine who in this country will get what, when and how. Until the last few months DrRich viewed the fight over Obamacare as the proxy fight for the real, underlying, fundamental question – the question of what kind of country we will be from now on.
But between the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement, DrRich has come to believe we no longer need a proxy. It looks more and more like we will have this fight out in the open, and instead of settling it with the kind of sneaky legislative legerdemain that brought us Obamacare, perhaps it will be decided by an actual election.
But whether it is decided by an election, a coup, or an exhausted capitulation, the fate of American healthcare – and everything else American – will ride on which of these two movements eventually predominates within the middle class.