Vol. CLIII, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

3 Things Occupy Wall Street can learn from Tea Party

Illustration: Alex Bailey

Both the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movement embody an underlying dissatisfaction with those with decision-making power. While the Tea Party is focused on government spending and taxes, Occupy Wall Street has its crosshairs aimed at large conglomerates, oil companies, billionaires and their bedfellow politicians.

With that in mind, Occupy Wall Street needs to learn three things from the Tea Party Movement.

Occupy Wall Street began as an as the brainchild of Adbusters Media Foundation, a non-profit, anti-consumerist, pro-environment organization. It has since come into its own and spawned countless copycat occupy movements across the country.

Not unlike the conservative Tea Party movement, Occupy Wall Street has taken numerous political agendas and subcultures and unified them under a single banner. The movement is growing, excitement is building; now Occupy Wall Street just needs to deliver. In order to do this, Occupy Wall Street needs to do three things:

1) Occupy Wall Street needs to make sure to stick to a goal that all of its supporters can agree upon. The recent “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City” presents a myriad of grievances against corporations. These grievances address a wide variety political issues ranging from standard corporate criticism such as environmental and labor concerns to issues such as workplace discrimination. Fiscal responsibility served as the battle cry of the Tea Party; I think Occupy Wall Street’s uniting doctrine is a belief in corporate responsibility. Documents such as the “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City” would serve as a good starting point to create government-backed ethical guidelines for corporations in variety of fields.

2) Occupy Wall Street needs to refocus the political agenda. The Tea Party hijacked the political agenda of Washington D.C. Although the Tea Party makes up a small percentage of the legislators in Washington, the momentum and strong voice of the movement allowed the Tea Party to change the course of discussion in Washington. The Tea Party managed to derail discussions on issues such as immigration, healthcare and the environment and to make balancing the budget the major project of both houses of Congress and the President for almost the entire summer. The Tea Party is a clear example of a minority exerting powerful influence on the majority through dogged persistence and advocacy for its platform.

3) Occupy Wall Street needs to either directly influence the political arena or enter it. The Tea Party did an excellent job of seamlessly  turning its boisterous rhetoric and rallies into direct political action. The Tea Party made sure to run candidates for positions at all levels of government and made sure that its members voted. Occupy Wall Street needs to do the same or it risks losing momentum without enacting any substantive change to the status quo. Protests alone will change nothing. A more refined political agenda needs to emerge that pursues both conventional political avenues such as electing candidates to office and unconventional tactics such as targeted boycotts of specific corporations. Pressure needs to be applied at all political levels to make the transition from sending a message to changing policy.

Occupy Wall Street stands at a crossroads; many different interests are pushing the movement in different directions, fast.   Occupy Wall Street needs to keep a unified front and begin to move from demonstrations to action. If the movement can not only protest, but vote, boycott, organize and lobby, it can follow in the footsteps of successful political movements; the civil rights movement, the women’s suffrage movement and, yes, the Tea Party.

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