Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Tea Party Vs. #Occupy: Mike Lee's Moneybin

A little while ago, reflecting on the vapid comparisons that were then being floated in Punditopia between the Tea Party protests of the last few years and the #Occupy protests currently going on, I said that:

I'm beginning to hope - based on the small but admirably philosophically consistent group of libertarians I've met circling the fringes of #OSLC - that [the Tea Party] will join #OWS. We'll see, I suppose.
That was on 10/22./11. In my last update, I mentioned that Ron Paul supporters have apparently made an inroad at #OccupyTheFed SLC. As a follow-up to that last, I wanted to draw a clear distinction between the goals and motivations of #Occupy - which are not oriented toward any political party or distinct philosophy but are of the Left in their particular type of populism and desire to correct inequality - and the Tea Party / libertarian / Ron Paul Right.

This line is most clear, perhaps, in the disparate attitudes of the Tea Party and #Occupy toward money in American politics. And that attitude on the part of Tea Partiers is nicely exemplified by Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah.

Everything Mike Lee needs to know was discovered in or before 1776

Mike Lee, golden boy of the Tea Party, is perhaps the most right-wing elected representative from perhaps the most right-wing state in the Union. I also use him as my Tea Party example because I do believe him to be a principled man: his opposition to the PATRIOT Act's continuation was both brave and ideologically consistent.

Lee's problem, and by extension, one of the Tea Party's problems, is that even though he claims to speak for the little guy, crushed by government and longing for freedom, he is 100% in the pocket of monied powers-that-be, and has absolutely no shame when it comes to selling himself.

Observe: the headline of a recent Salt Lake Tribune article is "Mike Lee wants to be first politician with his own super PAC":

Plenty of politicians endorse candidates or send them a contribution, but Sen. Mike Lee wants to take it to a whole new level.
He's asked the Federal Election Commission to allow him to accept unlimited funds from corporations and the wealthy in a political action committee that he would use to support like-minded conservatives running for Congress.

That's really all you need to hear about Lee. Who are his constituents? "Corporations and the wealthy."

#Occupy, unlike the Tea Party, sees this corrupt system as part of the problem. A "liberal Mike Lee" would not - could not - emerge from #Occupy, a movement that eschews political parties and candidates, and decries not only income inequality but the stranglehold that wealth has placed upon our democratic processes.

Where the Tea Party seems to have a strange and worshipful attitude toward wealth, #Occupants would like to see the playing field leveled. A fair contest without cheating or bullying - I don't think that's an unreasonable request.

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