I started my observations about these two movements a month ago with a point of conciliatory commonality–their shared opposition to undue influence by rich special interests in politics, whether left or right. However, after two months of Occupy Wall Street, the most stunning thing about these two movements is how their core is starkly contrasted.
Tea Party protests usually had a “vote the bums out” message–their signs and speakers focused on what those in the crowd should do. Occupiers, however, seem focused on what others should do for them–their signs and speakers are about the demands they have for what “the rich” should be providing them with (student loan debt relief appears to be a big one).
This is a broad generalization, of course, but a useful one. While there are certainly Tea Party protesters who want government to do things for them, even those things are more limited and more for the benefit of others than what Occupiers demand for themselves. Decreasing spending so that future generations of taxpayers won’t be saddled with unpayable debts (as many a Tea Party sign begged, such as at 1:52 in this video from a Las Vegas protest) is a far cry from insisting that “government has a responsibility to guarantee access to affordable health care, a college education, and a secure retirement,” as a poll of OWS protesters showed, according to a survey cited on the OWS Wikipedia page. Rescinding fairly recent policies that exacerbate economic problems strikes me as more restrained and pragmatic than demanding the spontaneous erection of a new infrastructure for a panoply of progressive fantasies.
Consider Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor rally last year. Whatever else anyone’s opinion of Beck, the Tea Party, or that rally, one cannot escape the conclusion that the major theme of that protest was the responsibility of those in attendance to fix their problems by improving themselves. Imagine that: a public protest to promote self-empowerment. Where is this analogy in the Occupy movement? Occupy protests all seem to embody a victim mentality that can apparently be cured only by obstructing life until others appease them. This is essentially the same strategy my three-year-old uses when he doesn’t want to go to bed.
Isn’t that part of America’s tradition of civil disobedience, though, one might ask? But this isn’t a boycott. This isn’t a call to change specific legislation that denies God-given rights. And with each passing day, it is getting far less ethical and nonviolent.
This last week, Occupy Las Vegas staged a sit-in to block traffic. Was this a means to effecting the kind of change they were agitating for? No, it was for mere moral vanity; they just wanted to impress people with what cool hipsters they are:
Reacting to stories that they are so in cahoots with police and authorities that they behave like little more than casino bellmen, 21 Occupy Las Vegas protesters sat in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard this morning intending to be cited….
“This was about how serious we are about what we’re doing,” said Jennifer Reed, a UNLV graduate student who drove many of the cited protesters back to the encampment this morning.
She said narratives about the group were “that we’re not really serious, that we’re cooperating with authorities. We want to show that we’re very serious and we’ll escalate if we have to in order to get our message out.”
Well, heaven forbid anyone ever accuse you of conducting your protests without aggravating the police! I guess you showed them…that you care more about your image than your cause. Unless those are the same thing.
A new poster boy for OWS has recently arisen: Brandon Watts, whose bloody face was plastered all over the media this week. Here, we have been told, is the police brutality from a regime out to stop us.
Except that this is clearly another case of moral vanity from an immature child. Watts repeatedly provoked police into action, ultimately throwing batteries at them, until they had to subdue him in self-defense. Watts struggled and resisted arrest so violently that he cracked his own head on the ground. This video shows the arrest, where police merely try to hold him down while he thrashes. They don’t whomp him with night sticks, they don’t punch him, they just try to stop his assault on them. All the while, the police are still being assaulted by the rest of the crowd.
Some martyr! By the way, if the mainstream narrative about preemptive police suppression is to be believed, then why did the police allow the taping of this video?
But I digress. My point is that enough of both sides has been evidenced by now to show their true colors: the Tea Party mostly wants to motivate themselves as active citizens to clean up our political system. Occupy Wall Street mostly wants to bully others into abandoning that system altogether and instituting one that will pander to their comfort.
This post was inspired by Mark Steyn’s new book, After America, which I just started reading. On pages 22-23, Steyn exults that, while France, England, and other European countries have recently seen rioting to protest mild measures to scale back runaway spending, “America was the only nation in the developed world where millions of people took to the streets to tell the state: I can do just fine if you control-freak statists would shove your non-stimulating stimulus, your jobless jobs bill, and your multitrillion-dollar porkathons, and just stay the hell out of my life and my pocket.” Steyn calls that America’s “fighting chance.”
Too bad he wrote that before Occupy Wall Street started. At least Europeans have been bristling against the rescinding of entitlements they’ve grown used to. Americans are now rioting to start entitlements that no one’s even tried yet.