Monday, October 3, 2011

The left wing Tea Party?

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations probably won't become the left wing version of the right wing Tea Party movement.  But they are both pretty angry at an elite that seems to them to be taking away America as they know it.  

The fear of the right wing is the ruin of America by an immensely powerful socialist government, and Obama's massive stimulus package and the massive overhaul of health care were proofs of their worst fears.  So, the Tea Party rose up in anger and became an unsophisticated but important political force.  

The fear of the left wing is the ruin of America by an immensely powerful corporate oligarchy, and the Wall Street created housing bubble and subsequent financial disaster, creating high unemployment and a long term "Great Recession", while Wall Street itself remains unpunished and ever more wealthy are proofs of their worst fears.  So, Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are rising up in anger and could become an angry and important political force similar to the Tea Party.

The left is afraid of corporate greed, i.e. the super wealthy amassing enormous fortunes while the nation becomes more and more poor; and right is afraid of government greed, i.e. government amassing more and more power and taking more and more control over individual's lives. Both are afraid of becoming helpless at the expense of those in power.

Both have a point.  But, we do have a system that can overcome excesses of power, the Constitution and elected officials are designed to give us the tools needed to break up excess power when it accumulates.  Teddy Roosevelt was the Trust Buster and diminished the powers of the corporate oligarchies of his day, and Ronald Reagan dismantled the overly powerful government of his day. 

But today, we may have both a government that is too powerful and an oligarchy that is too powerful at the same time.  Now what?  Those who want to dismantle the oligarchy want to make government more powerful, which may be a step in the wrong direction.  And those who want to dismantle the government could end up making the oligarchy more powerful, which may be a step in the wrong direction also.

I have some hope for a new centrist movement embodied in the Americans' Elect movement which is trying to put centrist names on the presidential ballots.  Rather than be stuck with Tea Party influenced Republicans or Occupy Wall Street influenced Democrats, we may get some pragmatic but powerful forces in the middle getting elected.  People like Simpson and Bowles, who put together the Simpson-Bowles report on reducing the deficit by raising revenues and reforming entitlements - things that need to be done but which our extremes driven politics forbid.