Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street

At the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf observes a basic similarity between the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street: both are populist movements animated by anger at the corrupt coziness of Big Business with Big Government, particularly as emblematized by the 2008 financial bailouts. Both want to disentangle this “cash nexus,” to scale down the size and influence of major banks, both in Washington and in the U.S. economy at large. The movements disagree about lots after that, of course: Tea Partiers would generally like less government, particularly by way of a systematic dismantling of social safety nets; OWS would like a more progressive tax code to fund a strengthening of those social programs. And on broad questions of public health and morals, the two crowds are light-years apart (both of these distinctions map neatly onto traditional Republican/Democrat divides). But Friedersdorf is spot on to note that all these critical differences needn’t prevent the movements from collaborating on issues where they agree: and there are lots of them. If movement leaders ever figure this out, Beltway insiders and Wall street bankers alike will have good cause to fear for their livelihoods.

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