Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Tea Party versus Occupy
Our crack national media (that's sarcasm, folks) continues to struggle to understand the #occupywallstreet movement. It is enigma to them. It is alien --a phenomenon resulting from something that they cannot understand. It is driven by something other than money. It is driven by a lack of money. And, in this gilded age, that does not compute.
Mark my words. Ultimately, the much-ballyhooed Tea Party movement will be regarded by history as chimera, while the Occupy Wall Street movement will endure and be regarded as a game-changer, a signature development that sparks a great transformation.
Whether the transformation will be for better or worse, of course, is still up in the air...
Watchmen, the iconic graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (recently translated into a very good film by Zack Snyder) provides an interesting analogous postulate. Watchmen is a novel that explores how the world would be different if there really were extra-legal costumed vigilantes (think Batman) roaming our streets and "protecting" our society.
The novel includes a chapter in which a retired crime-fighter, Hollis Mason, recounts how the costumed hero phenomenon began and how it transformed itself. When they first appeared, the crime-fighters enjoyed popular support and celebrity. They were so successful at winning the sympathies of the general populace that corporate banks sponsored their own costumed hero, Dollar Bill, for publicity purposes. As fate would have it, the unfortunate Dollar Bill was killed serving his banking masters. While pursing robbers, Dollar Bill's cape got caught in a revolving door and he was shot dead at point-blank range.
Another corporate sucker collects his paycheck!
Figuratively, the Tea Party is facing the same fate. While I won't deny that Tea Party folks have a lot of passion, it is the passion of the confused. All the support and adulation they receive from Fox News and other media outlets will eventually sap their enthusiasm. After all, how angry can one remain when it seems that everyone is on your side? All the talking-point memos with instructions for disrupting congressional town hall meetings, all the charter buses to transport angry, ignorant people to protest sites, all the Fox News pep rallies --all of it will be for naught. Just like poor Dollar Bill, the Tea Party "patriots" are being played for suckers by corporate bigwigs.
On the other hand, the folks at the various Occupy sites endure the censure and scorn of the corporate media and Capitol Hill boot-lickers. There are no air-conditioned buses to convey the protesters comfortably from place to place. There are no voices of authority urging them on.
And yet, they endure. They endure through bad weather, through heavy-handed authority, through the fearful scorn of hollow-hearted demagogues. The occupiers are driven by something other than mere anger and corporate-funded rhetoric. They're driven by a hunger for justice. They're driven by outrage over the inequities of the current system, by disgust at the corrupted political system that cannot address the basic needs of the citizenry.