Something creepy is happening in Minnesota. A dialogue has begun between the Tea Party and Occupy movements. Stranger still, it may be leading somewhere.
Facilitating the discussion is an organization called the Caux Round Table. Global Executive Director Steve Young seems hell-bent on bridging the divide between the two movements.
Young is the author of Moral Capitalism, a tome outlining the Caux Round Table’s vision for “reconciling private interest with the public good.” In speaking to Young and perusing his book, it is apparent that he is adept at speaking any political language, in sounding conservative to conservatives and progressive to progressives. This is not deception or pandering. Young simply aspires to operate above the political fray, and genuinely believes in consensus between perceived extremes.
Although he has never said it, Young and his organization appear to be communitarian, evangelists of “the third way” once evoked by President Bill Clinton. Communitarians seek a synthesis of capitalism and communism, an imagined happy middle ground where people can pursue their dreams in a market smartly regulated to ensure that the poor and under-privileged don’t slip through the cracks. Young’s book synopsis explains:
Author Stephen Young argues that “brute capitalism” — profit-seeking regardless of effects — must give way to moral capitalism to attain widespread monetary and moral well-being.
You get the idea.
Seeing the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street as two sides of the same coin, Young and the Caux Round Table have reached out to activists from each movement to debate the role of government and deliberate a proposed “joint statement of common principles.” This author is among those representing the Tea Party in that process, and has been afforded the opportunity to engage Occupiers in moderated forums.
So far, the possibility of consensus between the movements seems dependent on our willingness to ignore glaring differences. There are certain fundamental impasses beyond which consensus is impossible. However, the discussion has offered some insight into what makes Occupiers tick, who they are beyond the hyperbole of the media, and how their worldview may track far more conservative than they realize.
Here are eight reasons why today’s Occupiers may become tomorrow’s Tea Partiers.