Conservative commentators Karl Rove and George Will argue this week that the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement isn’t comparable to the Tea Party, reasoning that the former is composed of whiners and extremists while the latter is all about mom and apple pie.
But nearly every complaint these commentators lodge against the OWS protesters could have applied to the Tea Party in its early days, and many still do.
Occupy Wall Street isn't a movement. It's a series of events populated by a weird cast of disaffected characters, ranging from anarchists and anti-Semites to socialists and LaRouchies.
Because the Tea Party — replete with grown men in three-cornered hats who weren’t paid to wear them, birthers and truthers — has never been “a weird cast of disaffected characters”? Remember when journalists pressed GOP leaders about whether they associated themselves with the racist and anti-Semitic elements in Tea Party protests?
What they have in common is an amorphous anger aimed at banks, investors, rich people and bourgeois values.
What the Tea Party has in common is an amorphous anger aimed at Democrats, moderates, Federal Reserve banks, regular banks, taxes and essential political virtues such as compromise.
The Tea Party reveres the Constitution and wants to change laws to restore the country to prosperity.
Neither the Tea Party nor OWS actually knows how to “restore the country to prosperity.” But surely members of both movements want to.
The Tea Party files for permits for its rallies and picks up its trash afterwards. Occupy Wall Street tolerates protesters who defecate on police cars, allows the open sale of drugs at protests, and features women walking around rallies topless.
But publicly brandishing firearms would be.
No, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street aren’t identical. But both are populist movements, attracting over-passionate protesters eager to blame some cadre of sociopath oligarchs for their problems and flog simplistic “solutions,” all the while accusing “elites” who disagree with them of being corrupt.
“The president and other Democrats,” Rove writes, “need to remember it's always dangerous to associate with people who are just plain kooky.” Republicans would know.