Folks might not like the Tea Party much. But that’s not stopping this loosely affiliated band of people fed up with government spending and deficits from sending like-minded souls to Congress. The latest is Ted Cruz of Texas. He was the Sarah Palin-backed challenger to state Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Sure, Cruz has to face a sacrificial lamb masquerading as a Democrat on the November ballot in a contest he is expected to win. If this does indeed happen, he will join Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Mike Lee (Utah) Rand Paul (Ky.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) in the chamber and maybe a few more.
As I read the stories about Cruz, I couldn’t help thinking about another loosely affiliated band of people. These people were fed up with the excesses of Wall Street and elected officials who do its bidding. Occupy Wall Street sprang to life on Sept. 17, 2011, in lower Manhattan. Its influence spread far beyond the financial district to other cities across the country and the world. Their goals were many and disparate. But they have yet to channel their anger on behalf of the 99 percent into the political process.
After I made the point back in May that the movement must field candidates who proudly carry the OWS banner, I heard from a four or five people who were doing just that. Perhaps the best known OWS affiliated candidate this fall is Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts. She, unlike anyone in Congress or outside it, articulates the frustration and anger of those who played by the rules and were cheated out of their homes and livelihoods. But a movement can’t rest on the shoulders of one person.
The Tea Party came to life in 2009. By 2010, its adherents had switched control of the House of Representatives from the Democrats to the Republicans. (And Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has had a devil of a time trying to keep them under control.) If Cruz is elected and the GOP succeeds in taking over the Senate, the Tea Party’s meteoric ascension would be even that more impressive. Until the OWS movement can replicate the success, it will continue to go nowhere.