Our Idiot Brother: The Tea Party’s Relationship to Occupy Wall Street
How does one start from the same basic objection and reach the polar opposite prescription? The answer is a lack of maturity.
October 17, 2011 - 9:56 am
We are products of our choices more than our environment. Perhaps nothing demonstrates this more than the stark difference between siblings. Two children born and raised in the same home by the same parents, taken to the same church, and taught in the same schools can nevertheless lead remarkably different lives. One may strive to achieve while the other slacks. One may obey the law while the other breaks it. One may take responsibility while the other places blame.
As Occupy Wall Street demonstrations carry on throughout the country, many commentators have made comparisons to the Tea Party. While there are far more contrasts between the two, there is nevertheless a relationship worth noting. In effect, Occupy Wall Street is the Tea Party’s younger, misguided sibling.
Tea Partiers and Occupiers are born of the same environment. Ideology does not affect reality. Whether you are a constitutional conservative or a rabble-rousing Marxist, we have all seen the American economy implode. We have all seen the housing bubble burst and the subsequent bailouts of banks and favored corporations. Likewise, we have all been privy to the gridlock in Washington, to the debates over the debt ceiling, government stimuli, and how to best recover from recession.
However, these events have been viewed from decisively different perspectives, producing wildly different protests. The consensus such as it is among Occupiers is that bankers, corporations, and the wealthy are to blame for the nation’s wrecked economy. The Tea Party recognizes that government is the chief actor. It’s not as though Goldman Sachs or Chrysler can tax Americans. Only government can do that. Only government can bail out private interests with public funds.
By failing to recognize the government’s role in the bailouts, Occupiers find themselves in the paradoxical position of advocating precisely what they claim to protest. Occupiers typically call for some form of wealth redistribution. They call for taxing the wealthy to provide for everyone else. What they don’t seem to realize is that the bailouts they claim to be against were precisely that! By definition, a government bailout is the seizure and redistribution of wealth to insulate bad actors from malinvestment. In that way, bailing out Wall Street is fundamentally no different than bailing out student loans (one of the Occupiers’ demands). One cannot be against the bailouts and for socialism, as they are one and the same.