What do the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street (and occupy other streets) have in common?
They are both mad as heck and they don’t think the government is handling things correctly and they don’t think things are right in this land.
But beyond that I don’t think either movement (if they can be called movements) have any clear idea as to what they want, except they want things to be fair.
In their own ways they both want a government more responsive to the general public, I think.
It seems that the Tea Party is a faction of the far right and that Occupy Wall Street is a faction of the far left, but I’m relatively sure that a lot of people who have participated in or sympathized with both factions would not consider themselves thus aligned — particularly Occupy Wall Street. Supposedly both groups include regular everyday Americans without a particular political agenda who are just mad as heck and don’t want to take it anymore.
There really is no central leadership in either movement (at least not highly identifiable), and the Occupy Wall Street crowd even seems to think that is the way things in their movement should go — just a kind of consensus thing.
(Of course the structure of Hitler’s hierarchy was one guy says: “I’m in charge” and everyone follows him until maybe a new guy says, “no I’m in charge”. That seems to be the way things work when either far right or left political cults or movements take charge, witness Nazi or fascist (far right) methods or communist (far left) methods. Guns often have played a part in all of this — I know it sounds like I’ve gone off track. But I just favor peaceful, civilized representative democracy and one man, one vote to support that.)
It is my understanding that the Tea Party was actually started as a kind of phony front group for some big money interests who aimed to pull in ordinary people who were amenable to the right-wing pro big business political agenda. But maybe some of those people are taking the whole thing seriously and maybe the movement moved beyond all that.
Occupy Wall Street, I’m not at all sure about. It kind of resembles the anti-war movement of the 60s, which in its earliest stages was more of a hippie/college student thing, but finally drew in support from the mainstream. But organized labor is trying to get in on the act today (back in the 60s organized labor actually got into bed with corporate America to some extent). Maybe organized labor wants to co-opt occupy Wall Street. That would not be good. It is hard to know who would be the bigger threat, organized labor or corporate America.
I was surprised to hear a snaky, mocking report on Occupy Wall Street on CNN. It seems that the mainstream media has been slow to warm up to Occupy Wall Street, but has fallen all over itself for the Tea Party. But maybe the Tea Party has made more of an impact — got people elected to office and got the attention of the politicians — and is better organized. I have to be fair, though; there has been a lot of critical reporting on the Tea Party and yes some down right mocking too (but there is so much to mock sometimes).
The professional politicians don’t know how to act. They are stuck in the old school. You raise money for elections from various fat cats and corporate donors and other special interest groups and then you do their bidding.
While the Tea Party seems to align itself with the Republican Party, it would seem the Occupy Wall Street crowd would be aligned with some faction of the Democratic Party. It would be nice or interesting if they both disassociated from the two major parties.
The culprit in all of this discontent among the public (besides high unemployment), though, is the fact that money buys votes because money buys the message. The great mass of the public and the actual voters (a minority of the public) don’t spend a lot of time studying issues or critically analyzing them; they are either too busy making living (or looking for a job) and/or are apathetic. But the paid propaganda seeps through.
Who is more likely to get the ear of your local congressman? Joe Citizen or Mr. Big Time Lobbyist who represents tons of money to finance tons of propaganda for relection? I think you know the answer.
A better informed public would go a long ways toward changing things (it does not cost you to vote), but that is problematic.
Journalism has always been a business, but it was a strange one in which the bean counters were separated from the journalists, but the bean counters have taken over. Corporate America has all but taken over professional journalism so some of its work seems at times to be more like infomercials than traditional news reporting.
The internet (which makes it possible for me to do this blog) is quite a phenomenon. But it does not necessarily provide more, or more critical, information than was available before its arrival on the scene — in fact, in many ways it has polluted the streams of critical analysis of public issues (if this blog is part of that pollution, rest assured it is only a small part). But it probably does not have to be that way entirely and there is a lot of good information available once one sifts through it all. And it is great that the mainstream media does not have a monopoly on information and that it has to respond to things, such as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street (I think it tried hard to ignore the latter, but has had to relent somewhat).
As far as professional journalism, my past association with it was primarily in the field of newspapers. And here is my quick down and dirty super abbreviated take on the history of the print media in the U.S. (beginning with the 13 colonies):
A. One man’s opinion; the owner of the newspaper
A. 1 Pure propaganda
B. The beginnings of modern newspaper reporting with dispatches from the front lines of the Civil War, complete with news stories in the inverted pyramid style with the most important elements first, lest the telegraph wire is cut off.
C. Sensational or so-called yellow journalism, such as the propaganda that led us into the Spanish-American War.
D. A kind of golden age when people still depended primarily on newspapers for their information and in which many prosperous newspapers, large and small, did their best to present quality news reports with no bias (to the extent that is humanly possible) while also publishing vigorous arguments on public policy on their editorial pages. Hard to define when this golden age was, but it ended some time ago, even though the attempt is still there often — but the readership is down and the money interests have taken over and they are not interested in good reporting — they just want to sell something. And while one might think there is a market for good reporting, maybe there is but the overhead may be too high. Corporate America these days wants quick profits.
Meanwhile, the public is apathetic, the government unresponsive, and things economically have turned sour and the public wonders what happened.
But where has the public been all these years?
But here is another problem: our form of representative democracy requires constant attention of the voters and for whatever reason Americans just are not that into politics, at least not politics all the time.
Another problem is that there is no intelligence requirement for voting. Yes I said that.
In some ways we would all be better off if an intelligent, elite but benevolent group ran things, but how could that be had or guaranteed?
So we are left with what we have. But we have to pay attention and think and then vote.
Another problem is you can only vote for what is presented and there is often not much choice. To get more choices takes more involvement and may just take too much time out of life for most people. And if you get too many choices you lack any clear consensus and you can’t go several ways at once on most issues.
But if people would just pay attention and think critically rather than reacting to obvious bias and propaganda it would help.