Is Occupy Wall Street (OWS) an antidote to the Tea Party? Really, they may want the same things. Both groups have formed out of dissatisfaction with the government action and interaction with a world economy in a shambles, while bankers and financial professionals grow richer and richer. Just as many of the fiscally conservative, small government core of the Tea Party have been shouted down by loony social conservatives who aren’t satisfied with the power they already wield in the U.S. republican party; it’s unclear exactly who OWS really is, and is not. For some, they are the latest crop of counter-culture hippies, and surely a great many are just that. As youth around the globe are faced with a world where they won’t likely make more money than their parents, even if they are lucky enough to find a job, it’s not surprising that idle hands have picked up signs in protest. Bill Buster claimed to speak for fellow protesters while he was a guest on the Charlie Rose show. He declared that the media is focusing on the youth, but that the movement comprises nearly anyone who feels disenfranchised by the economic situation.
Just as the independent Tea Party has seemingly been taken over by extremists, the OWS is in danger of being taken over by Guy Fawkes inspired unemployed. Their anti-capitalist née anarchistic ideals express more anger than alternatives to the government, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Bill Maher and the Left perhaps shouldn’t have dispensed with “Tea Baggers” so quickly. Now, they’re faced with having to support anarchists, or poke fun at same, while they wave signs with slogans Maher’s writers could have written themselves.
It doesn’t take The Economist the wade through the issues to know what’s going on. People are angry and they no longer believe they can rely on the existing system to right their perceived wrongs without raising their voices. The Tea Party is unhappy with conservatives who failed to live up to their financial promises and OWS is made of people who feel their liberal leaders have failed to lead and solve their problems.
Libertarians can see how they’re both right. It’s too easy to ignore OWS as just unemployed anarchists, young people who’ve grown up feeling so entitled that when the government starts cutting down on handouts they’ve got nothing better to do than complain. Bill Buster claims OWS isn’t anti-capitalism, it’s anti-corruption and collusion. Hard to argue with that. Noted liberal Paul Krugman admits that it’s not really the 1% vs. the 99%, rather it’s closer to something like one tenth of one percent who haven’t earned their wealth in some John’s Galt ideal, but through legal loopholes and political connections. Meanwhile, the Tea Party’s extremists haven’t made any libertarian friends with their barely veiled desire for a U.S. theocracy, but the core message, forcing government to reign in spending and mis-guided control of economic policy is one that makes one wish they hadn’t been so derailed by the religious right.
OWS is finding fertile ground around the world, especially Europe, where their liberal anti-capitalism message can take easy root. Europeans, after all, are finding it hard to have faith in their politicians while they watch, and have to pay for, the failure of the Euro-experiment. That anti-capitalism Guy Fawkes stuff is a disappointing distraction, because if Bill Buster is correct, the Tea Party and OWS could get together, (kick out the religious extremists) and actually be a party for the rest of us. A political force that recognizes both the opportunity and the limitations of capitalism and holds politician’s feet to the fire when they cannot maintain system that is just and free of corruption.