In the wake of the growing number and crescendo of Occupy Wall Street protests and the rising level of alarm among conservative politicians and pundits, one would think that there would be a wave of counter demonstrations by the rank and file of the Tea Party movement which is supposed to be so vociferous about “taking their country back.” However, to date, these counter demonstrations have not materialized and that leads to the question: What became of all the energy that the Tea Party movement displayed back in the summer of 2008 during the health care town halls?
That the Tea Party movement’s popularity is on the wane is by now an established political fact. Likewise it’s declining popularity among those who earn less than $50,000.00 a year is also an established fact. That’s probably a big reason behind the lack of spontaneity, energy or interest in launching a counter effort to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Are there simply not enough foot soldiers around to man the front lines of a counter attack on the scale of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations? Or if a large number of rank and file Tea Party members still exist do they lack the fire in their bellies that they had in the summer of 2008 and if so why? I’ve gotten some real pushback from pointing out the fading allure of the Tea Party movement but when I’ve asked my critics to provide me with some independently verifiable proof to the contrary all that I have received in response are people’s unsubstantiated opinions or deflections that the Wisconsin recall elections is proof of the Tea Party’s continuing viability. However the Tea Party wasn’t on the ballot in Wisconsin and I don’t think that any of the Republican winners were Tea Party sympathizers either. At any rate Republican’s suffered a net loss of two seats so that doesn’t square to well with the claim that Wisconsin was a referendum on the Tea Party movement, it wasn’t.
Now I know the comeback that will surely come from my own Tea Party family members and friends: “Tea Party people are all at work or doing something with their families.” Well that’s a quaint notion isn’t it? However, if this crowd was so busy with work and family in 2008, where did they find the time to protest and in many cases disrupt congressional town halls? Surely with the Occupy Wall Street movement now a 24 / 7 operation there’s got to be some time on the weekend to devote to attending counter demonstrations if you’re really interested in “taking your country back” from protestors who are making the same claim. Likewise there’s time after work, on the way home, seeing that so many of the 147 plus “Occupy” demonstrations are taking place in America’s business districts or government centers. It’s like a tug of war where only one team has shown up. Where is team Tea Party?
The last time I saw anything about a right-wing street protest was this past summer when Michele Bachmann called out the troops to protest in front of the Capitol in opposition to raising the debt ceiling. However, there weren’t even enough people at the demonstration to fill up the view of a wide angle camera lens. Again the lack of passion in the street on the right was undeniable. Yet beyond the politicians and cable news crowd there is now a telling quiet on the right, a quiet that leads me to believe that some part of the message coming out of the Occupy Wall Street movement is resonating on the right as well. The pain of the Great Recession doesn’t differentiate on the basis of political philosophy and the notion that perhaps the rich aren’t paying their fair share, that more needs to be done about jobs or that a lightly regulated financial sector almost drove the economy into another Great Depression more likely than not resonates with lower income conservatives who are being pummeled economically just as it does with others. At any rate it’s hard to deny, that in the highly polarized political landscape of today’s America, a lack of a street response from the right is rather peculiar. That peculiarity exists especially in light of all the hyperventilated rhetoric flowing from conservative talk radio, cable channels and the blogosphere. Moreover, due to the fact that the radicalized right took to the streets in summer of 2008 in response to the supposed threats that the Obama administration posed to their version of what America should be one would think that they’d be back in the streets again. Shouldn’t the right be in the streets so as to stand up to a movement that they believe to be, beyond the shadow of a doubt, anti-American or even ‘Marxist”? Yet they’re nowhere to be found and to me that speaks volumes.