Many are thinking about the Tea Party and its relationship (or lack thereof) with Occupy Wall Street. I’ve received numerous complaints from some liberals who seem set on fostering an alliance between both forces in terms of what they promise will be a mass campaign to reign in business and government corruption. The proposal is absurd in my estimation, primarily because the groups’ goals are so antithetical that cooperation becomes not only implausible, but counter-productive. OWS is the negative of the Tea Party – its’ exact opposite when it comes to ideology and policy attitudes. Whereas the Tea Party nearly exclusively blames Democrats and “big government” for today’s problems, OWS refocuses attention on our problems as bi-partisan and heavily driven by Wall Street greed and corruption. This basic reality has become obscured in liberal activists’ rhetoric and in media propaganda.
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How do we know that a Tea Party and OWS alliance is counter-productive? The conclusion flows naturally from a close examination of both groups. Observing the Tea Party for a year as part of my research, and having participated in the OWS movement this fall, I can say from firsthand experience that there is an ideological chasm between the two. But don’t take my word for it; a review of the policy attitudes and ideological orientations of both groups demonstrates this point pretty clearly. With regard to the Tea Party, its’ ideological outlook and worldview can be effectively summarized by reviewing the positions that supporters take. Demographically, the Tea Party is heavily representative of the same Republican-right that’s driven Americans politics for the last decade. About three-quarters of Tea Partiers explain that they are Republican or lean Republican in their party attachments. Polling from Bloomberg finds that Tea Partiers are representative of the far right of the Republican Party, labeling them “super-Republicans” in orientation. A closer look explains why this label is apt. As Bloomberg finds, 80 percent of Tea Partiers support the Republican “Pledge to America,” the party’s ideological platform, which is largely a blueprint for further institutionalizing corporate power, minimizing popular social welfare programs, further cutting taxes for the wealthy, and strengthening U.S. militarism and aggression.