No doubt if you’ve been watching the news lately, you’ve seen coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protest going on in New York City, and others scattered across the country. At first glance, it seems similar to the kind of democracy in action we’ve come to associate with the Tea Party the last few years. However, upon closer inspection, there are some major differences and if the Occupy Wall Street crowd doesn’t want to see their efforts wasted, they need to follow the lead (reluctantly, I assume) of the Tea Party.
While the Tea Party movement has a set of clear goals (largely smaller government), the Occupy Wall Street crowd lacks a clear set of specific policy changes or reforms (outside of being anti-corporate greed). While the Tea Party can measure its success based on the candidates they support and elect—don’t forget the page on Congresswoman Bachmann’s website, the Tea Party Caucus—or legislation they voice support for, by what means will the Occupy Wall Street movement evaluate its success?
Simply put, the Tea Party’s problem is with the way government is run, and the Occupy Wall Street movement (italics used because we’ve yet to see whether this will be a sustained effort) has a problem with capitalism in general. And if you don’t believe it, take a look at the screenshot from one of their member’s list of demands from BuzzFeed—a list that seems to represent a lot of their members based on the variety of signs.
One thing the Occupy Wall Street crowd has going for it is the positive media coverage it’s been receiving. The media has been largely telling the public this is a story of the little man taking to the streets to voice protest against the greedy fat cats in their corner offices. This is certainly not the tint the Tea Party has been given to date. Some outlets have done their best to paint the Tea Party as racist, uneducated, and even anti-American. Perhaps this is the one missing component that will give the Occupy Wall Street movement some traction?
But, by what means will the activists produce or spur on change? They cannot elect new CEOs (much to their displeasure) or voice support for new corporate financial endeavors via the ballot box. Sure, they can speak with their pockets and their feet (by leaving a bank because of high fees, as this writer did not long ago), but without a clear means of producing actual change, this movement will likely cool down along with the fall weather.
So, even with these protesters’ positive media coverage, because they lack a clear set of principles and a means to an end, my guess is that they will come and go, and be remembered as just another protest that got in the way of traffic.