Occupy Wall Street vs. Tea Party: A Country in Protest

Dale Hummel | Contributing Writer

Throughout the history of our country, citizens have shown disapproval of society and politics by protesting. The reasons are quite diverse. In the early days people protested an oppressive monarchy 3,000 miles away, excessive taxes, and abuse to people, among others.

#OWS Poster from AdBusters.org

#OWS Poster from AdBusters.org.

Today, the people of our country have not lost the skill or the will to protest. It seems, however, “We the people” have split our protesting into two groups; the Occupy Wall Street Movement, and the Tea Party Movement.

Both movements label themselves as “grass roots” movements, and both groups are extremely passionate about what they believe in, but their differences are much more numerous than what they have in common. Both groups seem to have a common enemy, big money and the corruption it brings.

The Occupy Wall Street Movement began September 17, 2011, according to www.occupywallst.org. When the Occupy movement first came into the limelight of the media, the people that were commonly shown were college-aged young people who seemed to protest their lack of pizza, beer, marijuana and strippers. However, like many times before, the mass media seems to bring out the worst of people.

Eventually, people with coherent thought and speaking skills came forth with Ideas that made sense. When this happened, celebrities, politicians, and the mass media seemed to jump on the Occupy protest bandwagon. OWS was everywhere, from Main Street to Wall Street.

The Tea Party as we know it was created in 2009 for the education and advancement of constitutional conservative values. The Tea Party Movement, (TPP) for a while, also never really had central leadership or a main spokesperson, however, the Occupy Wall Street; (OWS) movement had something that the Tea Party did not, mass media coverage. For a few months, the media seemed to create a “blackout” of the Tea Party and their protests, unless someone in the movement did or said something that was controversial, which was far and few between.

Tea Party Patriot (TPP) by teapartyie.com. click to view source

Occupy people seem to believe that big business and large corporations is one of the biggest problems with our society, however, the list goes on. Other grievances include mortgage foreclosures, corporate bailouts, student loans, right to work issues, and many others. One of the lists of grievances the OWS has you can find at www.indybay.org.

TTP’s grievances are more political and include reduced individual liberty, excessive government, abuse of the Constitution, runaway government spending, gun control, disrespecting the military, disrespecting christianity and many others. This list can be found at teapartypatriots.ning.com. TTP also has a list of demands that they claim are “non-negotiable” such as a strong military, pro-domestic employment, gun owner ship is essential, balancing the national budget, and several others. There is even a documentary on the Tea Party Movement. The trailer can be seen at http://youtu.be/k2qil4Swcew.

According to www.ibtimes.com OWS also has a list of demands. Some of these include elimination of the corporate state, health care for all, jobs for all Americans, a fair tax code, ending a constant and perpetual war for profit, and several others. Their voice seems to be in more of a liberal mind set and many out spoken OWS speakers blame large corporations and the Republican Party for many of negative issues of today.

Both of these groups are a firm believer in protesting and letting the world know what they think, however, OWS and the Tea Party have very different ways of expressing themselves.

OWS has something they call “mike checks” and, a system of communication with their hands for loud environments, and, of course, “occupying” places. This is the act of taking a tactical position of an area and staying there while holding signs of protest and screaming at their intended target, even if they are in a street. This act commonly leads to what is known as civil disobedience, and then to being arrested by local law enforcement.

If the occupiers aren’t in danger of harming themselves or others, law enforcement might let them “occupy” an area for days if not weeks without the threat of arrest. To critics, this activity is known as “squatting”, which is why OWS protesters are known as “squatters”, among other things. Usually they will camp in city parks over night. In many cases this is illegal and the protesters refuse to leave, but wonder why they get arrested.

TTP is much more civil and patriotic. They plan the protest ahead of time while securing the proper permits for the type of protest they may be doing. Like the OWS, TTP protesters also carry signs, but there is very little yelling or screaming. Usually there is a master of ceremonies and scheduled speakers.

The group will intently listen to the speaker without incident. Some gatherings even start with a prayer and the crowd reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. After all have had their turn at the microphone, the group packs up, cleans up, and leaves without legal implications. Strong critics call people in support of TTP “teabaggers”. The title is rumored to suggest a lewd sexual act.

Tea Party Protesters in Capitol Hill yell: "Kill The Bill". Photo By Monique Cala click to view source

April is an English major at LBCC and has sympathies toward OWS. According to April people have become more and more dissatisfied with both the government and corporations and protesting is bringing attention to the issues. April says that the OWS is being strong by not giving in to the unreasonable demands of the police and having strong organizational skills, and they are doing nothing wrong.

April also claims that because TTP has such a strong ally with Fox News, the movement’s voice can be heard. She thinks if TTP did more of their own research they would realize that they are misunderstanding most of their own main ideas.

April says, “While there are similarities between the two movements, the fundamental difference will never allow for the two groups to merge. When one group wants to see appropriate taxation of corporations and the uber-rich (the “1 %”), and the other group’s foundation is “no more taxes,” it’s nigh unto impossible to see how these movements could ever be united”.

April’s views seem very common in the OWS following. However, many in TTP see this, of course in a very different light.

Crystal is a human development and family studies major at LBCC who doesn’t follow either movement. She says it’s a waste of time for all these protesters to be out in the streets when they could be changing things in the system to get what they want. Both movements protests, however. OWS will stay anywhere they wish for weeks at a time, without concern for local laws.

Big money and big government is one of the things TTP is fighting against. Thomas Jefferson once said, “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” Because of big government that freedom is dissipating.

TTP people are not against taxation, but they are against a large government wasting the money received from the people. They are a group that considers the Constitution sacred and will do anything to uphold and protect it.

It seems like both movements are similar to the child’s toy, Rock’em, Sock’em Robots. Both groups seem to battle against themselves vigorously and both groups have backers they don’t really seem to claim, however, groups do claim them. The Democratic Party and celebrities have jumped on board the OWS bandwagon, while a few of the political right side of the Republican Party is claiming TTP. But neither movement seems to claim any political or business group in their protesting.

It has been said that if your under 25 and don’t protest you don’t have a heart, if your over 35 and are not a conservative your stupid. I am 46 and a conservative. I have a firm believe that both sides are doing some good things, however, too much of a good thing and doing it the wrong way isn’t helping our country. If the OWS people took some lessons from TTP they might actually accomplish something useful.

With young liberals on one side and middle-age patriots on the other, these protests to change the direction of the country will not go away soon. Whatever side you are on, if at all, we can thank the First Amendment to the Constitution for our freedom of speech rights.

What do you think?