Make no mistake about it: Americans are angry, angry on the left and angry on the right.
Americans on the left and right are angry because there is a lot to be angry about: Persistently high unemployment, an unresponsive federal government tied up in gridlock, outrageous and irresponsible behavior on Wall Street, the shipping of jobs overseas, the widening gap between rich and poor… the list seems endless.
To be sure, the two ends of the American political spectrum – from Occupy Wall Street on the left and the Tea Party on the right – don’t agree on the causes of America’s unease. Nor do they agree or on the solutions to the nation’s problems. They agree only on one thing: Both left and right believe there is something wrong in the United States.
James Sinclair, a self-described liberal-leaning libertarian who dislikes modern conservatism, has drawn a Venn diagram, shown above, to display the differences and the convergence between Occupy Wall Street on the left and the Tea Party on the right.
This is a simplification, but it shows that Occupy Wall Street’s fear of large corporations and the Tea Party’s distrust of big government converge at the point where the threat is from corporations and government working together.
Will the left and right ever converge as the diagram suggests? That’s hard to say, but one thing is becoming increasingly clear: The anger on the left is displacing the anger on the right.
A recent Time magazine poll shows that Occupy Wall Street, barely a month old as a protest movement, is now twice as popular as the Tea Party. Only 27 percent of the public has a favorable opinion of the Tea Party, while 54 percent looks upon Occupy Wall Street favorably. Eighty-six percent of respondents believe Wall Street and its lobbyists have too much influence in Washington, and 79 percent say the gap between the rich and the poor has grown too large.
Despite those numbers, 56 percent believe the Occupy Wall Street protesters will have little impact on American politics.
That’s a depressing statistic, indicating a rather forlorn acceptance of things as they are by a majority of Americans. Yet, and this is a big yet, if the Occupy Wall Street protesters can manage to appeal to a substantial number of Tea Party adherents by emphasizing their areas of agreement – the intersection of big government with big corporations – perhaps a genuine people’s movement will emerge, one that will change the nation’s direction.
Posted October 18, 2011