Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tea Party vs Occupy Wall Street - Part III

OWS Goes Global
The Tea Party is a uniquely American phenomenon, while Occupy Wall Street has gone global in its first month. Why the difference in scope of these movements' appeal? The U.S. is not unique in having a viable conservative movement. Conservatives are in power in many countries around the world where Tea Party equivalents have not gained traction. Nor are Americans unique in their degree of exposure to overtly partisan "news" purveyors and a polarized blogosphere. Panderbear entertains the conceit that Occupy Wall Street has gone global because its cause is universal and just and its diagnosis of the source of our ills, corporate personhood, is accurate, whereas the Tea Party remains trapped in the futile conservative game of blame the victims. Unfortunately, that is likely a far too rational theory to explain the real world difference in the two movements' scope.

The U.S. differs from most of the world's largest democracies in one important respect. Unlike parliamentary democracies where the executive leader is chosen by the party winning a plurality in the national legislature, American voters have the dubious power to choose divided government. Frequently, that choice leads to governmental paralysis. Filibuster in the U.S. Senate compounds the problem. Originally intended to be used sparingly to protect the minority from tyranny of the majority, filibuster has become a means for a determined and uncompromising minority to routinely foil legitimate efforts supported by a majority of Congress and the American people. Parliamentary democracies may spin their wheels going first this way then that depending on the latest election results, but they are not subject to the kind and degree of failure to act demonstrated by the current U.S. Congress. Timely action, even if slightly misdirected, is often better than no action at all.

The Occupy Wall Street phenomenon has burned with greater intensity and on a wider stage than the Tea Party. That does not imply it will last longer. The brightest stars in the sky are the shortest lived. Whether Occupy Wall Street becomes a lasting movement with tangible progress toward its goals remains to be seen. Its appeal is wide, but its depth is uncertain. Nevertheless, Panderbear is an optimist and thinks that even if the current wave of demonstrations subsides, the fundamental truth of its participants' ideals will persist and rise again and again until freedom from corporate tyranny is won. The history of Western Civilization is one of ever increasing individual liberty. In the end the momentum of that multi-millenium trend will be telling.

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