October 13, 2011

Occupying the Tea Party

Patrick Laverty

It's interesting to see people come out and align themselves with the Occupy movement. Many of these are the same people who call the Tea Party wackos or zealots. By the same token, many people who fancy themselves Tea Partiers, look down their nose at the people attending the Occupy events. But if these two groups would simply take a minute to think about what they really want, they might realize that in some areas, they are one in the same. Both groups are fighting for traction around the country, fighting for any kind of positive media attention. What if they were to actually work together on ideas that they share?

It seems that both groups believe the US government is broken. I would guess the vast majority of Americans would agree with that. Both groups are seeking ways to fix the problems.

The Occupy Providence group released a mission statement where they stated one goal as

to build a society by, for, and of the people. Occupy Providence is a completely non-violent movement that seeks to give voice to the 99% of Rhode Islanders who have been disenfranchised as the economy and governance of our country has been increasingly ceded to powerful corporate interests.
So maybe the language isn't the same as what the Tea Party wants, but it sure sounds a lot like Occupy Providence is also asking for smaller government. Too much entanglement between government and business. They say they want a society by, for, and of the people. That sounds like they want government to get their hands off the people. Again, smaller government.

Now, I'm not saying that these groups are identical in every way, they're not. I'm sure there would be strong disagreement on many issues between them, but if they could simply pick a couple issues that they agree on and get the two groups to work together on those issues, maybe the politicians in Washington would finally be forced to listen, or even better, forced into retirement.

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"So maybe the language isn't the same as what the Tea Party wants, but it sure sounds a lot like Occupy Providence is also asking for smaller government."

Nah, that's not it, although I don't disagree with much of what you're saying. As William Blum said...

Activists have to remind the American people of what they've already learned but seem to have forgotten: that they don't want more government, or less government; they don't want big government, or small government; they want government on their side.

I posted this previously on Justin's red-baiting piece, but it may make more sense here.


It’s no secret that Ralph Nader has held the Democratic Party establishment in low regard for decades now: the marginally more palatable alternative in an ugly duopoly, he claims, is still quite ugly...

Looking ahead to the 2012 presidential race, one might assume that Nader has little to be cheerful about.

Yet he says there is one candidate who sticks out—who even gives him hope: Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

That might sound counterintuitive. Nader, of course, is known as a stalwart of the independent left, having first gained notoriety for his 1960s campaign to impose greater regulatory requirements on automakers—a policy act that would seem to contravene the libertarian understanding of justified governmental power. So I had to ask: how could he profess hope in Ron Paul, who almost certainly would have opposed the very regulations on which Nader built his career?

“Look at the latitude,” Nader says, referring to the potential for cooperation between libertarians and the left. “Military budget, foreign wars, empire, Patriot Act, corporate welfare—for starters. When you add those all up, that’s a foundational convergence. Progressives should do so good.”

Posted by: Russ at October 13, 2011 9:34 AM

William Blum is literally correct, “…they want government on their side.”. But the reality is that by “their” he truly means that. They want government to do what is best for THEM – as in HIM or THEMSELVES. Who wouldn’t want that? But that ignores the realty of competing forces in a large country. There are pros and cons to just about all policies. No government can do what is best or make everyone happy. I happen to believe that the role of government is not to please as many people as possible although in a democratic republic where political leaders are elected by the people, that is how it plays our. In my view, anyone who described 9/11 as “an understandable retaliation against US foreign policy” deserves no credibility. It’s as reasonable as supporting the Columbine act because of how the killers were treated by some of the kids.

Regarding the common ground between progressives and libertarians, it’s true that there is common ground and you can play that up. But there is at least just as much common ground between the tea partiers and libertarians on economic policy. For example, libertarians are against ANY welfare – both social and corporate. That’s why a growing number of people refer to themselves as economic conservatives and socially liberal with the common thread being “less government”.

But like I said, what people really want is the government to be responsible to help THEM in THEIR individual pursuits. Let me know when that government policy is tenable.

Posted by: msteven at October 13, 2011 12:30 PM
In my view, anyone who described 9/11 as “an understandable retaliation against US foreign policy” deserves no credibility.

You mean like Rep. Paul, yes?


In any case, to each his own. That doesn't change the point I was trying to make. I just didn't want folks thinking I was pawning off the line as one of my own.

Posted by: Russ at October 13, 2011 1:45 PM

I am not a Rep. Paul supporter. Having said that, there is very big distinction between what Paul and William Blum said. The distinction is in the word “understandable”. Paul is correct that the motives behind 9/11 were due to foreign involvement in Middle East countries and not “because we’re free”. But while Ron Paul does not agree with US (or any NATO/UN) foreign policy, he stops well short of saying 9/11 was deserved. To me, that is huge distinction between a disagreement of policy and agreeing with a violent response to that disagreement.

Yes, to each his own …

Posted by: msteven at October 13, 2011 3:01 PM

Sorry for the off topic thread, but let's remember what Rep. Paul said.

PAUL: First thing I would like to do is make sure that you understand there's a difference between military spending and defense spending. I'm tired of all the militarism that we are involved in. And we're wasting this money in getting us involved. And I agree, we are still in danger, but most of the danger comes by our lack of wisdom on how we run our foreign policy.

So I would say there's a lot of room to cut on the military, but not on the defense. You can slash the military spending. We don't need to be building airplanes that were used in World War II -- we're always fighting the last war.

But we're under great threat, because we occupy so many countries.

We're in 130 countries. We have 900 bases around the world. We're going broke.

The purpose of al Qaeda was to attack us, invite us over there, where they can target us. And they have been doing it. They have more attacks against us and the American interests per month than occurred in all the years before 9/11, but we're there occupying their land. And if we think that we can do that and not have retaliation, we're kidding ourselves. We have to be honest with ourselves. What would we do if another country, say, China, did to us what we do to all those countries over there?

I think it's pretty clear that he did say it was an understandable response to our foreign policy. He even said we'd do the same. Just saying.

Posted by: Russ at October 14, 2011 10:15 AM

Well, if that’s what he said – basically saying our foreign policy is like other countries hostile intentions – then he really is a nut job. I’ll agree that there is an argument that our military involvement isn’t worth the cost and that we should be focusing our resources in our own country, etc, etc. I don’t agree with it and it follows that our country exists amongst the world in a vacuum but at least there is some reason behind it.

But you got me, Rep Rand is like William Blum being of those who believe 9/11 was justified because we meddled in their affairs and supported their enemies.

To each his own …

Posted by: msteven at October 14, 2011 11:56 AM

Well, now you're delibertately misreading what they said. Both were trying to explain why we were attacked, not trying to justify murdering civilians. If that's lost on you, you really are kidding yourself.

Posted by: Russ at October 14, 2011 12:53 PM


First, where do you get that I "deliberately" misread something? Do you mean I misread it on purpose? Good thing you know my intent.

Also, please explain the distinction between "an understandable response" (which is what both of them said) and justifying the action?

Posted by: msteven at October 14, 2011 1:01 PM

I understand why someone living in poverty might steal to provide for themselves or their family, while at the same time I don't condone burglary.

Rep. Paul goes a step further in asking us to consider how we would respond to say the Chinese occupying portions of the US, which I think is a valid question to ask. We can pretend that a militaristic foreign policy doesn't have consequences (predictable ones at that), but we do that at our own peril. It's simply a realpolitik view of foreign policy, not one influenced by or endorsing the ideology of those who would attack us in response.

Posted by: Russ at October 14, 2011 3:49 PM

I don’t know how to respond to comparing a hungry person burglarizing a home for food to 9/11. Words fail me. You really need to share that one with pride. How about something IN THE SAME UNIVERSE like Timothy McVeigh – who committed a violent act because he was unhappy with the government and its policies. Was that too an "understandable response"?

But you have a solution; we need to think about the violent consequences of taking an action or policy which ANYONE may find objectionable. That’s a plan.

The US has had military presence in those countries for many years – spanning across many Presidents, from the conservative – Reagan, Nixon to the liberal – Carter, Obama. The President has unilateral power to withdrawal those troops yet none of them have. Any thoughts on why?

A person in poverty stealing to those involved in 9/11 … nice.

Posted by: msteven at October 14, 2011 8:48 PM

I watched some of the Occupy Providence videos and saw a Risocialists sign. The rhetoric is leftist.

Don't be deceived anyone,because they might sound like they support and oppose the same things you do. Most of these are leftists or their naive followers.

Fox Boston has a report out that a person in the Coast Guard,in military uniform,was spat upon by some of these protesters.

When I say leftists,I mean Socialists and Communists,not your well meaning family and friends who vote Democrat because they think the Democrats are for the "little guy" and their parents voted for the Democrats.

Really,I believe that these Occupiers are shills of the very wealthy elite,as evidenced by the fact that many are Brown students.

Disgusting too,that they use the misfortunate homeless as pawns.

Posted by: helen at October 15, 2011 2:38 AM


During the last Presidential election,Ron Paul told Ralph Nader to his(Nader's) face that he would not vote for him.


Posted by: helen at October 15, 2011 2:58 AM


If they are so similar,then why didn't all of the Occupiers come out to support the Tea Party?

That tells more than anything.

Posted by: helen at October 19, 2011 1:51 AM
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