Wed, Aug

So What SHOULD a Liberal Tea Party Movement Look Like?

ALPERN AT LARGE - The jury is out as to where the Occupy Wall Street and its local counterparts will go and what the collective movement will stand for.  But clearly there’s no shortage of observers, admirers and sympathizers throughout the nation, and it’s hoped that it will be a victory for grassroots democracy with as much of a political impact as the Tea Party movement has had to date.

Which is not to say that everyone supports the Tea Party movement, but inasmuch as there are many observers of its core message (No Taxation Without Representation, and Stop the Unsustainable Spending) who do not actively participate in the Tea Party rallies, it’s safe to say it’s pushed the GOP (and even the Democratic Party) in a more conservative direction.  So will the Occupy Wall Street movement be just as effective but with a more liberal flavor?

Certainly, the Democratic Party leadership is reaching out to Occupy Wall Street, which is exactly what they should do for both pragmatic and philosophical reasons.  However, Occupy Wall Street has insisted on its independence, which is exactly what THAT entity should do.

Because Occupy Wall Street, at this time, IS an entity.  It’s an entity, however, that wants to avoid being a shill of the Democratic Party as much as the Tea Party has insisted on being a shill of the GOP.

Of course, many who have no clue or tolerance as to conservative thought, and what the true history of the Tea Party has been to date, may not “get it” that the GOP actually FEARS the Tea Party as much as its tried to harness its energy to achieve GOP political gains.  

Despite those who dismiss the grassroots, volunteer conservative Tea Party as nihilists, racists, or other “ists” in an attempt to censor those who disagree with them politically, it does appear that despite their disorganization the Tea Party is trying to be a “conservative conscience” of the Republican Party.

In a similar matter, it would be a reasonable conclusion for the Occupy Wall Street movement to be a “liberal conscience” of the Democratic Party.  Which means that Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama and Harry Reid would—and should—have as much to fear from the Occupy Wall Street movement as much as did the mainstream, tenured GOP politicians who were thrown out of office in favor of more conservative (presumably “principled”) conservatives.

The term for that was being “primaried”, which was something that probably should have occurred a few election cycles earlier than 2008 as the conservative core of the Republican Party (and their conservative independent ex-GOP colleagues) were being forced to eat crow and accept a financially-unsustainable Medicare Part D, the costs of foreign wars and other deficit spending without a balanced budget … and then finally a perceived “amnesty” on illegal immigration in the form of “comprehensive immigration reform”.

To be “primaried” means that a GOP politician, no matter what their tenure and history, would be challenged and potentially be replaced by a true conservative in the primaries, even if it meant losing in the general election because, well, principles are supposed to still matter.  It took a complete smashing of the GOP in 2006 and 2008 to finally see this phenomenon occur, but the seething of conservatives began much earlier.

Similarly, to be “primaried” might become a Democratic phenomenon, courtesy of the Occupy Wall Street crowd, if Barack Obama is replaced with a Republican President and both houses of Congress in 2012.

After all, while many if not most Democrats might never agree with Newt Gingrich’s assertion that Chris Dodd and Barney Frank should go to jail for their role in promoting the subprime mortgage crisis, the question of how we got into this mess continues to vex and infuriate the American public (regardless of any political leanings).

And while Chris Dodd had the good sense to bow out while the going was good because of his own shady political dealings, the question of whether Barney Frank’s good intentions trashed the financial sustainability of Fannie and Freddie (giving lots of loans to “poor and worthy” individuals who were entirely uncreditworthy) is one that’s worth answering.

Just as George W. Bush promoted the subprime mortgage and “ownership economy” as much as did liberal Democrats and led us into this mess, and followed up with the repugnant (but perhaps necessary) TARP bailout to the ire of the nation, he and his team have been thrown under the bus by the Tea Party.  Similarly, Occupy Wall Street might want to tell Mr. Frank and other tenured Democratic politicians that there are plenty of other Democrats in this country who are smart, principled and are deserving of their own chance to represent the hardworking citizens of this nation.

Which is hardly to say that the GOP would be let off the hook by the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Quite the opposite, because despite the question of whether the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory bill is either spot-on or just a sorry way for those two to cover themselves politically or assuage their troubled consciences, the need to regulate Wall Street is more critical than ever.  

Much of the reason Democrats and independents are infuriated with President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder is because they’ve seen virtually none of the Wall Street creeps who profited from subprime mortgages do the perp walk, handcuffs and chains and all, in front of their colleagues and families and for the entire world to see.  And if the GOP wants to dismiss Wall Street regulation and law enforcement, then they could arrange their own funeral at the hands of the Tea Party and the nation in general.

On a similar note, the questions of how well the green movement money has been spent, particularly in light of the Solyndra scandal, and how well the stimulus package was spent, and what on earth was the Obama Administration thinking with respect to Operation Fast and Furious, are quite reasonable for Democrats and their liberal, independent and ex-Democratic colleagues to ask.

The fact remains that while conservatives (by and large) want to spend less, liberals want to spend more … but spend WELL, so that our public tax investments are meritorious, cost-effective and fair to every American citizen.  Most Americans are a little conservative here and a little liberal there, so it’s hoped that a liberal moral conscience in the form of Occupy Wall Street can be as beneficial for the United States as the conservative moral conscience was meant to be in the form of the Tea Party movement.

And since both Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party represent American grassroots democracy, it’s in our country’s best interests for both efforts to make headway, despite the obnoxious and relentless attacks by their naysayers.

(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Vice Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected] He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us.   The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)

Tags: Occupy Wall Street, Tea Party, Democrats, Republicans, conservative, liberal

Vol 9 Issue 82
Pub: Oct 14, 2011