The Possibility of a Tea Party-Occupy Wall Street Alliance


In the spirit of this rocking Venn diagram, The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf posits that an opposition to bailouts and crony capitalism could—and should— be enough to justify a you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours merging of the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street protesters. 

Friedersdorf offers a mixture of fairly sound ideological reasons for such a meeting, but also points out that people make these sorts of pragmatic, limited alliances all the time. They are, indeed, the nature of politics (which could be a problem for some sign-waving purists.)

The take-away:

Tea partiers and Occupy Wall Street protestors could vote for different candidates in 2012, fight vociferously about the ideal size of the federal government, and meanwhile cooperate to prevent big business and co-opted bureaucrats from capturing money that could be better spent (on tax cuts or deficit reduction or infrastructure or social welfare benefits, depending on the outcome of another fight). If the United States and the USSR struck mutually beneficial treaty agreements during the 1980s, if the ACLU and the NRA have usefully allied on civil liberties issues, despite their strikingly different donor bases, there is no reason save stubbornness and political immaturity that the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street can't find areas on which to cooperate. Perhaps the Cato Institute and the Center for American Progress can co-host the summit, and Rand Paul and Dennis Kucinich can co-sponsor the resulting reform legislation.  

Rand Paul and Dennis Kucinich co-sponsoring legislation is almost as wacky as Barney Frank and Ron Paul co-sponsoring legislation. (Their federal legalization of marijuana bill makes a little more sense, though. Libertarians know Kucinich is an ally when it comes to matters like the drug war. Some of his other views leave something to be desired.)

The actual maker of the above Venn diagram, who blogs under the name How Conservatives Drove Me Away, had this to say:

Occupy Wall Street, at its core, is a reaction to the increasing power and influence of large corporations. The Tea Party, at its core, is a reaction to the government's constant interference with private enterprise. But wait a minute—aren't those things connected?

Bailouts, subsidies, tax breaks, special rights and privileges, regulations designed to restrict competition—to name a few of the many ways the government protects and stimulates corporate interests, and those things are every bit as anti-free market as, not to mention directly related to, the high taxes and excessive bureaucracy that gets Tea Partiers riled up

Anthony Gregory, a research editor for the Independent Institute flirted with the idea of an alliance between the two groups, for similar reasons:

A movement finely focused on resisting Washington's corporatism and bailouts, however, could potentially be much stronger and wider, bringing together at least some of the anti-Obama Right, elements of the anti–Wall Street Left, and libertarians too. The conservatives would have to agree to leave their anti-immigrant and prowar signs at home, and the lefties would have to put aside their demands for national healthcare and prohibitions on gasoline.

But he later concludes that the ideological climate will not allow an alliance like this to happen, because the real problem is government and anyone demanding bailouts for the middle class instead of banks is still missing the point.

Finally, Adam Kokesh got straight down to it by going to Occupy DC and interviewing a Texan in a Ron Paul shirt alongside Kevin Zeese, one of the organizers of the October 2011 anti-war movement which is also pro "health care for all" and wants to "tax the rich and corporations." The two of them—and Kokesh—have a respectful debate and agree to maybe ally on certain things, but once again the fundamental differences in their definitions of capitalism, who is to blame for the trashed economy, and possible solutions makes the idea of a earth-changing alliance, or even a limited, pragmatic one, seem doubtful indeed. 

Reason on Occupy Wall Street and on the Tea Party. What Reason.tv saw at Occupy Wall Street, below: