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The media continues to report that the Occupy Movement “lacks focus”; “their message isn’t concise”; “it’s not clear to the American people”. I think this criticism is correct, but only partially. The rest of the story is that the message may be too big for American media to put in a single sentence. More specifically it is too big for TV reporters to put in a 30-second sound bite. The Occupy participants are not politicians with speech writers geared to preparing one-liners that are easy for the TV media to pick up and quote. Contrast this to Tea Party events which seem to produce a steady supply of quotable one-liners. However the Occupy Movement is in some ways very much like the Tea Party Movement. It is every-day Americans who are frustrated with America’s leadership and are trying to get their attention without resorting to medieval European or mid-Eastern violence. (The Occupy San Diego events being an isolated incident so far.)
I believe the Occupy Movement is actually more focused in some ways than the Tea Party Movement. The Occupy Movement is about “the economy stupid”. It wants an economy that distributes the wealth in a more equitable manner and provides good, living-wage jobs. These are solid American values. My view of the Tea Party is that they want these also, along with a smaller Federal government that is not going to fatten itself on the backs of the middle class, a Federal Government that is not going to put half of us “on the Dole” at the expense of the other half. Additionally, I think the Tea Party folks see a socially unlevel playing field with WASPs being elbowed aside to pander to every “minority” group that wants an easy ride by claiming some form of victimhood or discrimination versus earning their place at the table through hard work. There is also a worry that their children will be sucked into various “alternate life styles” like moths drawn to a flame. Who can blame parents for worrying about their children? I can’t. The whole premise for this website is a good life for our Grandchildren. However this dilutes their message of “smaller government”.
I see two big differences between the Occupy and the Tea Party folks. The first difference is that the Tea Party has some very public and recognizable people supporting and speaking out for it. The Occupy Movement has yet to attract a Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, or Scott Hennen. The Occupy folks might be asking, “Where’s Bill Clinton when we need him?” Secondly, the Occupy movement has attracted a following of people who dilute their message and/or damage the image. I would include those who carry signs like “Capitalism is Organized Crime” and the middle aged lady on TV (probably somebody I considered a “Hot Chick” in the 60’s) who in her words is a “veteran protester” of: “End the War” [Vietnam]; “Ban the Bra”; “Environment First”; and now “Occupy.” As one reporter described the NY event “It looked more like a street fair than a political event.” Contrast this to the Tea Parties which appears to me to be pretty homogenously composed of middle class working Americans. This gives them “one face” and the apperence of one message.
The basic Occupy message is sound. It is the American ideal of equitable distribution of food, products, and services based on personal work, “getting your hands dirty” that goes all the way back to Jamestown, 1608. Captain John Smith forced the get-rich-quick adventurers and dandies to “work if you want to eat.” Captain Smith recognized the hard truth that one farmer can only produce a “one farmer unit” of corn and one wood cutter can only produce a “one woodcutter unit” of wood. Ten aristocrats paying them bags of gold does not increase their output. One worker and ten watchers leads to most, probably all eleven, starving and/or freezing to death. This is exactly what almost happened to the colony before and after Smith’s leadership.
America still grows its own food, and to a large extent delivers its own services. We need to recover the manufacture of a sufficient supply (for consumption or trade) of products and increase the number and wages of middle class jobs If the Occupy Movement can influence more of America’s political and business leaders to act for the betterment of all Americans (willingly or begrudgingly) it will be a success. This will help us hand off a better America to our Grandchildren.