Could a Tea Party Occupy Wall Street?

What a difference nearly three years makes. On Inauguration Day 2009, 2 million people converged on Washington, D.C.

“Two million people don’t gather in one place unless things are really good, or really bad,” we observed that day. “We’re having trouble telling the difference these days… One thing is certain: Obama sure has a lot of hype to live up to. Guess that’s inevitable when you allow the nation to project all their fears and hopes on you.”

Innauguration Day 2009

“I am new enough on the national political scene,” wrote the president two years after his election to the U.S. Senate, “that I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.”

“As such, I am bound to disappoint some, if not all, of them.”

Well, at least he had some idea what he was getting into. But he couldn’t shake the delusion that the solution to whatever ails “the economy” lies in politics.

Thus, nearly three years later, the palpable disappointment is manifesting itself, like the now-dashed high hopes, outdoors…

Occupy JP Morgan

The “Occupy Wall Street” crowd is marching uptown today to protest at the homes of J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and Koch Industries chief David Koch, among others.

“Objectively,” writes retired CIA station chief Haviland Smith, “the demonstrators seem broadly preoccupied with their own powerlessness. They decry the inordinate amount of power and influence held by our very rich and our corporate enterprises and the power of lobbyists to further their goals in a Congress that is essentially for sale.”

Reading this assessment, we’re struck — and we know we’re going to make people uncomfortable saying this — by the parallels between Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party.

Both movements are born in part from outrage over the 2008-09 bank bailouts. Both feel the “American dream,” however they define it, is out of their reach. Both feel left out by a ruling class.

The Tea Party drove one long-time Republican operative to quit after 30 years as a Capitol Hill staffer. But Mike Lofgren recognized where their grievances came from.

“Historical circumstances,” he wrote last month, “produced the raw material: the deindustrialization and financialization of America since about 1970 has spawned an increasingly downscale white middle class — without job security (or even without jobs), with pensions and health benefits evaporating and with their principal asset deflating in the collapse of the housing bubble. Their fears are not imaginary; their standard of living is shrinking.”

How different is that, really, from the motives impelling the OWS protesters to the streets? For all we know, the OWS protesters are the college grads with no jobs stuck living in their Tea Party parents’ basement.

Heck, even some of the Tea Partiers might support the OWS protesters notions of “tax the rich.”

Eight out of 10 Americans support raising taxes on households earning more than $250,000 a year, according to a new Bloomberg/Washington Post poll.

That includes 81% of Democrats, 67% of independents, and 51% of Republicans.

The poll also finds 82% ruling out any cuts to Medicare, and 83% opposing any cuts to Social Security.

Presumably that would include the Tea Partiers who were insisting two years ago, “Keep your government hands off my Medicare.”

Sure gets ugly when people can no longer project their views onto the president.

Addison Wiggin
for The Daily Reckoning

The Daily Reckoning