8 ) The Futility of Protest Without Power
The word “powerful” is an epithet among many activists, regardless of their political persuasion. The Powerful are often evoked as a faceless, shadowy elite playing by a different set of rules at the expense of the rest of us. No distinction is made between the Powerful and power itself. As a result, the notion of obtaining power to affect change is often met with knee-jerk revulsion. There is an irrational fear that contact with power taints the activist, and an equally irrational conviction that power itself must somehow be neutralized. This creates a kind of anti-activism where nothing of real consequence is accomplished, protest without effect.
The Tea Party certainly has its share of anti-activists. However, most Tea Partiers realize that power is not inherently evil. The very notion of evil presumes a morality, and morality presumes agency and free will. It is how people choose to use power, and not power itself, which has moral consequence. More importantly, power is required to affect any change in policy.
Occupy is resistant to embrace the fact that power is a tool to be morally utilized. For this reason, despite their elevated media status, their potency as a political force is negligible. The same was true of the Tea Party early on, which is why there has been a marked drop-off in the amount and size of Tea Party rallies. Tea Partiers have come to realize that protest without power is little more than cathartic release. As Occupiers come to recognize that same futility, they will be one step closer to Tea Partiers.
7 ) The Futility of a Movement Without Focus
The Occupy movement prides itself on its lack of hierarchy, organization, and focus. Occupiers value inclusion over definition at the expense of substance and direction.
It makes sense when you consider the aforementioned fear of power. The notion that someone is “in charge” suggests authority, something the Occupy movement has great contempt for.
The Tea Party is similarly amorphous, lacking a centralized organization or explicit hierarchy. However, the Tea Party has a different motivation for its cellular structure. Tea Partiers generally respect authority and value organization, but recognize that the integrity of the movement depends upon independence from a hierarchy where individual leaders might be compromised in one way or another.
In addition, the Tea Party has a set of core principles which generally unite them – fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets. Occupiers can’t seem to agree on anything, and instead operate from the vague sense that money and power are bad.
Without a clear focus, an objective and a plan to achieve it, the brighter Occupiers will eventually bore of fruitless activism and either reevaluate or disengage. Those who reevaluate may discover an affinity for the Tea Party’s message of proper governance and individual liberty.