Who’s afraid of the party system?

Who’s afraid of the party system?
  •  emoticon

As the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to march on, around the world, but particularly in the United States, Tea Party analogies are becoming steadily more mainstream. Right-wing pundits now routinely compare-and-negatively-contrast the two groups; I particularly enjoyed this recent cartoon by Eric Allie, which wonderfully summarizes the double-standard in press coverage — at least in conservative eyes. But then you also have Jon Stewart on TV every night concluding the exact opposite, with his damning clips of Republican politicians praising the “grassroots activism” of the Tea Party in one breath while denouncing the frightening “mob mentality” of OWS the next.

At least one major difference between the two movements is undeniable, however: unlike the Tea Party’s eager embrace of the Republican Party, OWS has shown no real interest in becoming a force in Democratic politics. If anything, it’s just as opposed to them as any. Listening to the Slate culture podcast today, host Stephen Metcalf compared the group to the American radicals of the 1960s, in the sense that a great deal of both subcultures’ momentum was spawned from disillusionment with a supposedly activist, liberal president (originally Kennedy, now Obama) who proved to be far more moderate and establishment-friendly in office than he seemed on the campaign trial. And just as the 1960s saw a significant withdrawal of left-wing Americans from mainstream politics in favor of street protests, sit-ins, and underground newspapers, so too may the 2010s see a left that is highly visible and loud, but also located mostly on the fringes. And the results may be just as predictable. The post-Kennedy era of left-wing disillusionment, alienation, and protest did not beget a more liberal administration in the White House, after all, but rather Richard Nixon.

Why the American far-left possesses such aggressive distain for working within the party system, while the American far-right seems to have few qualms about embracing it, has never been entirely clear to me. I know leftists like to play the victim card and argue the self-interested political establishment hates their radical ideas too much to “allow” their entry into the halls of power, but the Tea Party folks are hardly elite favorites either. No matter how much Chomsky you’ve read, it’s hard to deny that Tea Party opinions on, say, the Gold Standard or 17th Amendment, are every bit as heretical to the close-minded Washington consensus as some of OWS’ views on Citizens United or whatever. If anything, judging from recent polls, the fringy OWS may actually be the movement more in tune with mainstream public opinion, giving them more impetus than ever to start voting in primaries and fielding candidates. But as it stands now, apparently less than 30% of the folks on the street even self-identify as Democrats at all.

The most plausible explanation, I guess, is that the American far-left tends to be avante garde and post-modern in a way even the most radical right-winger rarely is. Which is to say, while a hard-right conservative may be inclined to view electoral democracy as corrupt and flawed and wicked and decadent, he’ll usually lack the intellectual creativity or interest to dream up something better. The far-left, in contrast, does little else. Even OWS itself, with its daily general assemblies, consensus-based decision-making, gender-balanced speakers lists, and non-judgemental finger-wiggling, seems to be busily training its supporters for participation in some utopian political system that doesn’t yet exist, rather than the dreary parliamentary Congressional model they already have. Spend enough time in this idealized world, and a New Hampshire primary must start to look like a Nuremberg rally.

The left, in short, doesn’t seem to tolerate imperfection very well, unlike the right, who seem somewhat oblivious to it. A nominally conservative politician — like say, some sort of theoretical Texas governor-cum-president — can ratchet up spending, create expensive new entitlement programs, promote amnesty for illegal aliens, and overcommit America’s armies in multiple open-ended nation-building adventures, and still be regarded as too sacred to criticize openly. Perhaps it says something about the conservative’s basic affinity for leaders and authority, but for all the right’s dislike of government and politicians, they sure seem willing to make heroes of an awful lot of very flawed rulers, from Ronald Reagan to Sarah Palin. Meanwhile, even the mainstream of the Democratic Party can’t seem to agree if Bill Clinton was good or bad.

I don’t support a lot of the causes that the far-left peddles, but this haughty tone of self-righteous indignation for the flaws of everyone but themselves has always irritated me far more than any of their ideas. The Tea Party has obviously begun to embrace some of this themselves, of course, destroying the careers of decent politicians for various real or imagined crimes of RINOism, but even then, they’re at least willing to concede that change had to start somewhere within the existing political machine. As someone who lives in a country without open primaries or the right to party self-identification enshrined in law, it’s similarly more than a little fatiguing to listen to young, college-educated intellectuals rant endlessly about how undemocratic the United States is, and how changing the face of Congress is too impossible to even bother trying. Even Tea Party victories have to be explained away with elaborate conspiracy theories about how the whole populist phenomenon is really just an astroturf sham being puppeteered by shadowy plutocrats behind the scenes.

For any democratic system to be legitimate, it must effectively represent the broad spectrum of ideological opinion that exists within the society it seeks to govern. For that reason, even those who consider their cause odious should find at least something inspiring in the rise of the Tea Party. By continuing to denounce and opt-out of mainstream politics, however, the Occupy Wall Street crowd are proving themselves to be the anti-Tea Party in more ways than one.


  1. William McDuff

    I think it has more to do with a real lack of a far left option in the US. In Canada, we have the NDP, Green and the Bloc, but the Democratic party has never really trended that far left. They do get the union supporters, but it's not like the unions are going to support the Republicans. Ideologically speaking, I'd put the Democrats close to the Liberals, or maybe even just a tad to the right of Canada's 'centrist' party.

    Not that the Democrats don't have far left elements in their party (see Frank and Franken among others), but I don't feel that they have the pull of the Blue Dogs, and Obama would like consensus. The most radical lefty policy that Obama went for was Health Care, really, and the PCs here half support that.

    Overall, I like the spectrum up here in Canada, really. Though I worry about the Liberals bottoming out and dividing things into black and white…or perhaps orange and blue…

  2. J.J. McCullough

    But the US parties are much easier to change than the Canadian parties. So what the Democrats "are" right now is not set in stone the same way the NDP's ideological identity is. The Democrats used to be a fairly conservative, southern-based party, but urban liberals eventually took it over. And the Republicans used to be a moderate New England party before right-wing southerners took it over. And now further-right Tea Party people are taking it over. There's nothing to stop the Democrats from being taken over by farther-left people through the primary system, unless the farther-left people show no interest in doing that. Which seems to be the case.

  3. B5C

    More leftward we go!

  4. monapublican

    I do not know why you have such an infatuation with US politics. The grass is NOT greener on the other side, probably not even green. The only reason why there is a conservative, southern-based part of the Republican Party is because of Nixon's southern strategy, do to the success of a THIRD party candidate. Even when the urban liberals took over, they were STILL unpopular with other liberals due to their handling of the Vietnam War. With all due respect, even as the Republican Party gradually turned more conservative, which is more evident during the Obama administration, the republican never really followed through with even half of their plans even have to recant on many of them. This is the same as well with a more liberal democrats where many of the Occupy Wall Street movement where likely Obama supporters. You can yap on about being against ideology dogmatic or tribalism. But when a people were supporting someone base on their policies, the people expect that some to follow though. If we truly have to moderate on everything, there should be no such thing as a politico-economic movement of even politico-economic ideologies in the first place.

  5. @ThePsudo

    I find your post interesting but not entirely clear. "Liberals weren't happy with the Democrats as dominated by urban liberals." seems to support JJ's theory that liberals have impossibly high standards of ideological perfection. "Even as the Republicans became more conservative, they failed to implement conservative programs," makes some sense, given that Democrats control the Senate and the veto power of the President.

    Are you arguing that the American system does not allow anyone to implement their ideas regardless of their ideology? That assertion is true only when the ideologies completely refuse to work together. That is true lately, but not inherent to the nature of the system. Should we have more of a first-past-the-post system, where the party in charge makes all the rules until the next election?

  6. Kyle Morton

    I think his main argument is that the democrats, in spite of controlling the Senate and the veto power of the President and, previously, controlling the House as well, still failed to pass progressive legislature. Instead, under Obama, we've seen some of the most massive attacks against social services in decades, the kind of stuff that republicans could only dream of.

    To put it another way, our two parties are a choice between far right and center-right. In such a political situation, of course the left is going to voice their disgust and not vote for either group. Why would they vote so powerfully against their own political leanings?

  7. Kyle Morton

    This is starkly untrue. The US parties have changed previously, but in modern days it's impossible to force any sort of change without a whole lot of lobbying money to back them up. The two parties are very deeply entrenched in their own funding; neither is going to move to the left anytime soon.

  8. Jbot

    The younger leftists fancy themselves revolutionaries and rebels who will change the world. Having to become part of the establishment, or even becoming the establishment, dilutes that dream. In their heart of hearts, they want to storm the banks but they don't because they also really don't want to get a face full of mace.

  9. @ThePsudo

    The Tea Party started out with plenty of "Both parties are useless" rhetoric and gradually moved towards mobilization of the Republican base. Now the Occupy Wall Street movement uses "Both parties are useless" rhetoric, and Democrats are praising their actions and, if they have any sense, maneuvering to take political advantage. It may merely be a matter of time until OWS becomes a wing of the Democratic Party in exactly the same way the Tea Party became a wing of the Republican.

    The difference of party self-identification between the groups might have something to do with the inherently revisionist attitude of the left: change, progressive, revolutionary, and opposition are fundamental themes of the left-wing. The Tea Party may construct narratives of corruption of the system by politicians who lack moral character while the Occupiers construct narratives of an inherently corrupt system that excludes good ideas solely because they come from unorthodox sources. Political parties, as a symbol of the existing system, are seen as part of the problem to the left, while they are the only means of solution in the eyes of the right.

  10. Aden

    First time reading. Good post.

  11. Zulu

    JJ: NewsLibrary.com has recorded many times more mainstream media coverage of the Tea Party than the Occupy Wall Street protests in their respective points of development. http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/10/07/us

  12. @ThePsudo

    That starts tracking the Tea Party protests from April 15th, the date of their first nationally organized protest. But the Tea Party was already around for months by that time. The first related protest was in Binghamton, New York, in January 24, 2009 protesting Governor Paterson’s proposed 18% tax on sugared soft drinks by dumping the contents of soda cans and bottles into the Susquehanna River (a very literal metaphor). http://bit.ly/d13uJk Rick Santelli of CNBC called for a Chicago Tea Party, a national televised declaration of the idea from Feb of '09. http://bit.ly/nOpHPV The reason there was more coverage of the first **national** tea party protest was because the tea party movement had already been in the national media for months.

    Google's timeline feature puts the first major peak of results for "tea party movement" in February of 2009. http://bit.ly/qVZVr7 Comparable results for "occupy wall street" are arising today. http://bit.ly/rgGJ1e By that comparison, what your chart calls "day 1" for the Tea Party should be compared to roughly "day 60" of the OWS graph. Even if that's not the proper comparison, it demonstrates that the comparison that chart used was arbitrary and subjective. It's meaninglessness portraying itself as impartiality.

  13. Nick Wood

    I think most of the OWS reluctance to declare themselves a movement of the Democratic party stems partially from the fact that most of them voted for Obama in 2008. Ive heard a lot of frustration from my liberal friends about the reluctance of the president to take a hard stance on many of the leftist ideals he campaigned upon. There seems to be a feeling among leftists — at least the ones i know — that Obama has consistently let Republicans and the Tea Party walk all over him, because he values comprimise to the point where he isnt effectively able to get his party what they want most of the time.

    Also, not to be cloying, but i sort of found Eric Allie's cartoon to be hyperbolic. There always seems to be a tendency to portray people with whom one disagrees as stark raving lunatics. I think the cartoon should be the first part for both groups, but with different networks behind the cameras… But then again, im not a political cartoonist, so i dont get to decide.

  14. drs

    “The Democrats used to be a fairly conservative, southern-based party, but urban liberals eventually took it over. And the Republicans used to be a moderate New England party before right-wing southerners took it over.”

    Too simplistic. The Democrats were a mixed bag. I’ve read the 1856 platform, and yeah it’s got the pro-slavery stuff and I think ranting against “internal improvements” (while calling for a specific kind of such, port improvement maybe.) But it also advocated for the rights of immigrants and Catholics, and in subsequent decades it would be the party of both Southern reaction and Midwest economic populism.

    I’m not sure if it was captured by urban liberals, so much as LBJ pushed civil rights through, and the Southern conservatives decamped, changing both parties.

    As for the involvement of the Koch brothers with the Tea Party, that seems fairly well documented. Also see favorable Fox news coverage.

  15. @Kisai

    LOL gold standard. Every time I see Ron Paul on TV he brings that up. From my own research, the world is never returning to the gold standard, and for a single country to return to it, would doom that country by causing inflation to track gold. Inflation is good when it's not hyper-inflation. Deflation however results in debt's becoming larger. No country would dare go back to the gold standard as long as their monetary policy allows them to carry debt. Look at Greece, when you don't have control over your country's monetary policy. That's what would happen with returning to the gold standard every time the price of gold drops.

    With OWS, it's gradually getting more coverage on the business news channels, but it's still largely "we don't know what this is about" , but when they ask politicians, business analysts, and even floor traders about it, they're all clearly aware of OWS. Though the opinions are all over the place. The less right-leaning ones have the opinion that it's about the lack of jobs, but make the point "In debt? that was your choice." The right-leaning ones see it as more nuisance and seem to believe that the OWS protesters wold be better off taking their protests to Washington since it's their policies that are destroying jobs.


  16. Louis

    "No country would dare go back to the gold standard as long as their monetary policy allows them to carry debt."

    Well that's the whole point. Some people are pushing for the gold standard because without artifical printing of money the government has to keep his speending in check.

  17. Golfball

    A government hamstrung by a forcibly balanced budget (especially by external factors) isn't able to react to adverse situations.

    Any government (and by inclusion, agents and agencies of said government) will spend to the capacity (or close to it) of their budget. If they don't, the budget gets cut. (Really, would any electorate tolerate a taxation/spending policy that routinely generates surpluses before spending the surplus or cutting the taxes? Bribe the public with their own money, and all that.)

    If the government cannot go into debt, any circumstance causing an unexpected expenditure of funds (or a sudden drop in revenue) [see 9/11, 2005 hurricane season, any major wildfire season, etc.] will end up with a worse situation because they won't have the funds to fix it.

  18. @ThePsudo

    Once the theory was "If we cut taxes, government will have to keep their spending in check." We now blame the Reagan Administration for the deficits that resulted. Governments don't need money to spend money.

  19. Lord Zentei

    I would hardly call inflation "good" in any sense, though of course it's a lot worse if it's hyper-inflation, and deflation is worse than inflation. But it's best if there's neither.

  20. @ThePsudo

    Of the available options, a little inflation is the best choice. "Neither" is impossible.

  21. Lord Zentei

    Sure you can have neither inflation nor deflation. Of course, if you want to split hairs, you can say that it's impossible to have an absolute zero value for this kind of an economic variable, but that's not what I meant. You can have negligible inflation, that's close enough to zero.

  22. @ThePsudo

    Inflation can be negligible for a very short time, but it necessarily fluctuates by several percentage points. When it fluctuates out of the negligible range, is it better for it to stay on the inflation side or on the deflation side? The obvious answer is "the inflation side."

    (For anyone who doesn't know, me and @ThePsudo are one and the same.)

  23. @ThePsudo

    Er, @ThePsudo and Brady Postma from Facebook are one and the same. (Weird… it says I'm logged in via Facebook, but it posts via Twitter.)

  24. Guest

    JJ, you wonder why there is a difference between the right and the left in terms of the establishment. You could see this as a short-term reaction to the apparent problem that the right can get things done even on a minority (Harper), while 'progressive' politicians often fail to deliver even in favourable strong majority conditions (Obama). This is most likely to be true for people who have a pre-existing faith in the efficacy and representativeness of liberal democracy (assuming they live in a country that can be described as such). However, I'm not sure it applies here.

    Occupy movements are based on direct democracy – you discuss an idea, flesh it out with your fellow citizens, support it in a vote (or whatever you want to call that part of whatever consensus process is in operation), then you get on with doing it (or discussing the next item on the agenda until the assembly is over).

    The political status quo, which the right does not have a problem with (the clue is in the term 'conservative'), works like this – you try to get a question on an issue of concern to you put to candidates for political office. You can then vote for one of the candidates who support that idea. If one of the candidates who support the idea wins, you have to hope that they belong to a majority of elected candidates who not only think the same way, but care enough to get around to making it happen (and that's before we even get to amendments, filibusters and other legal and procedural shenanigans). And that's your one and only say in political affairs at that level of government for four years. And the Tea Party has always been about the politics of Great People (quite unlike the original one, of course, which was actual direct action of a sort far more illegal and effective than camping outside a bank). A lot of it's wrapped up in a sort of patriotic rhetoric that means the question of whether the fundamental constitutional makeup is justifiable simply isn't going to occur.

    That's not to say, by the way, that all occupiers necessarily reject the current conception of democracy or have the same idea for an alternative – there is a vast range of political opinion to the left of orthodox liberal constitutionalism – merely that their practice in attempting to actually create a democratic movement will lead them to challenge the political system (as opposed to the makeup of that system, which is what the anti-establishment rhetoric of the Tea-party is about).

  25. @ThePsudo

    I hope the OWS movement comes up with a radically new trick for creating economic justice. I'm kind of sick of the options being 1) leave it as is, 2) take everyone's money away and return only what is needed, and 3) make the system just and let the results fall where they may. #3 is my favorite, by the way.

  26. Guest

    I like 3 as well, but it depends what you mean by 'just'.

    If you mean a sort of pure market capitalism is that even if you start with everyone having the same amount of money (which we don't and never have) and no disparity in education, social privileges, etc. (again, we don't), and no market imperfections, the disparities in wealth created thereafter, even through chance, will almost certainly grow over time and we'd end up back where we started. And that's before we get onto the question of whether it's reasonable to assume the state can simply take the role of guarantor of property and contract law.

    Personally I think the answer has got to include a) some sort of reviewing of the role of money, and b) a move towards, in the longer term, wider and more democratic participation in the economy, and probably c) re-establishing of what we mean by ownership in different contexts.

  27. @ThePsudo

    I don't mean pure market capitalism or any particular economic system. I mean we need some measure of economic justice beside the equality of outcomes. Income equality is an insufficient, undependable measure.

    What do you mean by "wider and more democratic participation in the economy?" Every living person is involved in the economy every time they purchase or consume anything. I'm not sure how that can be distinguished from "everyone always." Do you mean more bottom-up oversight and influence over economic regulations? That sounds promising, but lacking in details.

  28. Guest

    Income equality doesn't automatically imply actual equality, but extreme inequality where incomes differ by factors of 10, 100 or more, then it's not really plausible to conclude anything but genuine and unjustified inequality.

    "Every living person is involved in the economy every time they purchase or consume anything"
    Strictly, yes. But I don't have an awful lot of say over, for example, the way microwave ovens are made. I might buy two in my lifetime, and there's not really an opportunity to convey meaningful information with your product choices, even in aggregate, as there are likely to be too many variables (similar to issue bundling in political parties, actually). Ethical consumerism really only works in limited circumstances. Plus there's the issue that someone with a 10k income has a tenth of the economic clout of someone with a 100k income – less than that if you factor into it that they have less flexibility to shop around and purchase a more expensive product.

    Worker co-operatives are generally a bit more democratic as the people actually doing the job know and can meaningfully discuss and communicate how best to run the thing. They are the ones with most stake in the firm. It wouldn't be hard to implement legislation which over time turned private companies into co-ops.

    Another option (which could coexist with worker coops or function separately) is election of managers. You'd have to be careful to do this properly and not just create a situation that gave managers an excuse to be tyrants (I'm elected!) without actually a genuine discussion, and you also suffer from bundling problems. But you do have to wonder why this doesn't happen.

    You could also have consumer co-ops working less like workplaces with (disparate) customer shareholders and more like neighbourhood purchasing and distribution services.

  29. Mickey Blue Eyes

    The problem with having dozens of political parties, e.g., the "me and you and I'm not so sure about me" party, that Canada, Britain, et al. have is that although there are as many political parties are there different kinds of canned soup — a party for everyone — the extremist still has to join up with the moderates to build a coalition government that nobody is happy about. If one part of that coalition is unhappy, then the entire government collapses and has to start over building a coalition.

    Recently, the U.S. had three major parties, one Democrat and two ostensibly Republican. The two "Republican" candidates split the vote and we got stuck with Woodrow Wilson, who was one of the worst presidents of the 20th century. He got us involved in a European war that we didn't have an national interest in. He sided with the incompetent French and British generals that caused the horrific stalemate of WW I. He bungled the peace which allowed the Bolsheviks to take over Russia, and set up conditions in Germany that allowed the people to hate the democratic government that allegedly lost the war while absolving the Kaiser and his ministers of any blame. Oh, and despite Wilson's goal of self-determination, the French and British ran rings around him, gobbling up more colonies from the former German and Ottoman empires.

  30. Brian

    world war 1 is recently?

  31. Virgil

    Good comments all, and I've enjoyed reading them. I think it has to do little with left/right and more with the actual composition of the two groups. Politics are, after all, ultimately about policy matters.

    The Tea Party has one very simple mission: Stop the spending. Things are bad, and they are in opposition. Therefore they blast the incumbents and try to make sure that those who come in (via the primaries) share their views. This explains the Great RINO hunt. All the groups that joined…Perot independents, some Clinton Democrats, and Reagan Republicans…had a long history in American politics of wanting smaller government. While they may disagree on social issues, in the face of trillion dollar plus deficits their call isn't hard to make. They have a side for whom they can cheer. They have the Ryan plan, and candidates are angling for their support.

    OWS' situation is more complicated. They have a simple want: money and a future. They feel that their future has been cheated from them. They blame Wall Street and the banks. Yet, via Obama, they are in power. Therefore, if the issue is not with the man at the top, the problem is with the system. There is not as much agreement on policies because many of the policies that seemed obvious have been enacted, and have not measurably made things better. Additionally, many of them are not particularly left wing but rather are venting at how bad things are. There is no real agenda in terms of policy enactments that is agreed upon and if one were to show up it would probably cost them much of their participation.

    Similar to what Republicans faced in 2006-08, they are left in power, everything that commanded support has been tried, and they are divided in loyalty to the increasingly unpopular man at the top.

  32. Jake

    But what the OWS fail to realize is that the very people they voted for are the problem not the banks and Wall St. It was Obama who supported the bailouts and the gov't spending for these financial institutions and Obama and the Dems are the ones supporting this corporatism. Just look at the "first to patient" law which replaced the first to invent law.

  33. Virgil

    One other thing….it wasn't Southerners who took over the GOP from New England…it was the Westerners. Goldwater '64, Nixon '68 and '72, Reagan '80, '84, Bush '88, '92, etc. This is somewhat similar to Canada. Southerners came in on the state level on religious grounds in reaction to the Democrats' policies in the '80's (the Presidential elections are different and do hearken back to 1964) but did not come to the forefront of the party until the Congressional elections of 1994. At that point, and until the rise of the Tea Party, the contrast of Clinton's colorful personal life and the strict morality of the Bible belt dominated politics. At the moment we seem to be headed back to an economically based politics…more similar to the '80's than the '90's.

  34. @Ryan_in_SEPA

    Interesting comments so far… I have to say I think you mischaracterized the Tea Party's love affair with our system though. I think conservatives in general love the system, but think it has been corrupted by various factors. It is not that they cannot dream up a new system, it is that they love the system, but hate the operation of it.

    It does play much into our philosophical views though. The far left really believes in utopia while most right wingers don't.

  35. Jake

    1) The Tea Party does not "embrace" the Republican Party.
    2) The Tea Party knows this is a two party system and that it is easier to join it than die as a movement.
    3) Replacing and displacing the old Republicans has been more successful.
    4) If The Tea Party embraced the Republican Party then they wouldn't of ran candidates against the establishment candidates.

  36. mazzini

    The fundamental complaint of OWS and other leftists is that the disproportionate influence wielded by wealthy citizens and corporations corrupts the democratic process and the established party machinery. The Tea Party is largely funded by wealthy citizens and corporate money and its demands serve those interests, even if the rank and file aren't conscious of it. That's why one is disdainful of the two-party system and the other has become an appendage of the GOP.

  37. mazzini

    in fact, OWS is a far more democratic and inclusive movement that the Tea Party, since it is a genuine bottom-up, grassroots organization, rather than an astroturf outfit funded by corporate money and GOP-affiliated donors. i have no idea why you think this is a conspiracy theory rather than a fairly well-established fact, but your generally shallow opinions make it seem like you're always more concerned with establishing your reasonable, middle-ground credentials than engaging in serious analysis

  38. @ThePsudo

    OWS emails claim big-name media collaboration with OWS to craft media-friendly messages. http://bit.ly/qwVUKP That sounds a bit like astroturf.

  39. Mazzini

    leaving aside the fact that your source is professional liar andrew beitbart's hit page, the actual facts do not bear this out at all. what actually happened was a number of left-leaning reporters (names like Taibbi and Dylan Ratigan, guys who make no pretense of hiding their views) were discussing what they would do in the protestor's place, and these e-mails were stolen and forwarded to the right-wing spin machine (breitbart, limbaugh et. all). There was no "media collaboration", no coordinated campaign, and nothing like, say, the millions of dollars in financing from major Republican contributors that the Tea party receives

  40. Jon Bennett

    Both the Tea Party and OWS are funded by well-wishing partisan billionaires and covered favorably by ideologues and media on their own side. The drum circle hippies ain't feeding themselves on Paypal donations.

  41. @Cristiona

    Adbuster's own blog disagrees with you.

    Note the date: July, 13th.

  42. Jon Bennett

    This cartoon could also be said to illustrate that much of what the media calls "The Far Right" is fairly mainstream.

    Comparisons of OWS and Tea Parties are pretty silly, because Tea Parties are peaceful, clean, and law-abiding. As for Jon Stewart's shrill cries of hypocrisy, you notice he didn't rally a protest against free speech this year.

  43. Kyle Morton

    Simply put, the far right demands politics move to the right, and they do. The far left demands politics move to the left, and they don't.

    You ask why the far left isn't voting Dem. I find this an odd question. The American Democrat party is a centerist party, mostly center-right these days. Why would the left vote center-right?

    If anything, I think you're very much missing exactly the problem many in the OWS have: that neither political party supports them. Their choices are the very far right Republican party, or the not as far to the right Democrat party. But both parties support the same odious practices they're protesting against. Both parties supported the bailout.

  44. virgil

    Not true….

    Bush supported the bailout. The majority of the Republican Congress opposed it on libertarian grounds.

  45. virgil

    Which also brings up another point….big business loves the central bank. Small business can feel that it helps unfairly tilt the playing field. Tea Party and OWS have a lot in common…..they do not think that central banking bailouts are the way to go. They disagree on whether the field should be tilted in favor of the little guy or simply leveled.

  46. bardhoff

    The person whom has the most corporate donations wins the presidency. Immediately after, the largest corporate contributors are given government positions. No one thinks this is odd?

    It happened in the Obama election- less than a year to go and he had a flood of nearly $350 million in campaign assets. As soon as he was elected, he hired the very same people who gave him money (and started the financial crisis) to be a part of a committee dedicated to- you guessed it- stop the crisis.

    Congress has consistently voted against bills that would aid citizens and has consistently voted up bills that protect the interests of the wealthy. Let's not forget the Republican Party held the 9/11 Emergency Responders Medical Bill hostage saying 'If you attempt to actually start making us pay money for services we want, we'll make sure none of the police officers, firefighters, and paramedics can get the medical assistance they need.'

    And when they finally did pass the bill for the 9/11 Emergency Responders, it was to cover bandages and ambulance trips- Not to help them with asbestos poisoning, cancer, lost limbs, etc.. (And that's not even mentioning it took a DECADE.)

    That's just one example. To borrow a line from a video game: Lady Liberty is sick and has been on Life Support for a long time. The wealthy just don't want you to pull the plug.

  47. @ChrisV82

    JJ, I would also point out that the Republican Party has been happy to embrace the Tea Party, in fact going so far as to directly pander to them, even if most of them have no intention of actually pushing their ideas once in office. The Democratic Party hasn't been as loving towards Occupy Wall Street, but on the other hand, the movement is still fairly new. If Democrats in office realize that there is popular support for such OWS ideas, maybe they would be more willing to pander to that, and the more mainstream OWS people would be willing to support Democrats again. Both sides have fringes, but realistically either group is willing to forgive and forget when the politicians say "Yes, we care."

  48. theghost

    The Far Right isn't the Republican Party or the (bulk of) the Tea Party. The "radical right" are the Libertarians, Paleoconservatives, Minutemen, Oathkeepers, "Truthers," WN/neo-Nazis, and anyone else the media labels "Patriots." Many of those groups are recruiting at OWS now that the Tea Party has effectively become another term for "generic Republican." Of course I'm neither a "white nationalist" nor an occupier, but OWS is more ideologically diverse and ambiguous in its objectives than the Tea Party ever was.

  49. PurpleXVI

    I think part of it is the issue that American politics are just generally so goddamn right-shifted on the spectrum, compared to, for instance, many European politicians, that the left-wing voters in the country feel dis-spirited and disenfranchised. Like they have no stake in the game whatsoever.

    For instance, in Europe you always have at least one vaguely viable candidate defending something analogous to socialized healthcare, a modicum of a welfare society, etc.

    While in the US, the Democrats are about as leftist as you can get without being unelectable, and in practice they're Republicans without the religious angle. I think it's pretty understandable.