#473 – Dick Bernard: Occupy Wall Street – Minneapolis (OWS) and the Tea Party

As I write, 6:30 p.m. on November 14, a big rally of Occupy Wall Street is apparently taking place in downtown Minneapolis. I say “apparently” because I don’t know for sure if, or how, plans may have changed due to posturing by local government, and response by the OWS folks to that.
That will be part of the news tomorrow IF the news media choose to cover the event*.
I’m one of those gluttons for punishment, accepting into my e-mail in-box anti-Obama hate mail, Tea Party, right and left wing commentaries. It tends to get overwhelming at times, but it is good to see what the assorted folks are dispensing as their particular reality.
Both OWS and Tea Party claim support of the “99%” of the country who are not wealthy. My support is strongly with the OWS folks, though I couldn’t see sufficient reason to travel to Minneapolis this evening.
Occupy Wall Street is the more recent visitor to the news. It began with an unpublicized protest in Zuccotti Park in New York City in September. It took a couple of weeks to get any news notice. OWSs apparent website – “unofficial” it emphasizes – is here.
It has since spread nation-wide, and at this writing seems to be enjoying positive momentum.
So far, OWS appears to have managed to resist the pitfall of many spontaneous movements to be co-opted by the traditional Power structure (see ** here). It is my hope that OWS retains its present character, which enhances its potential for long term success.
The Tea Party, on the other hand, was almost without any question born as a creature of power: angry people were considered a tool by the very people against whom their anger was directed.
If not that, the “Tea Party” was quickly taken over by the radical right wing power structure. Its populist members seem to despise government generally (except those very limited functions that apply directly to them, personally: Medicare, Guns, etc.) and have in a short time gained an immense amount of power (a function of being a part of the traditional power structure)…but have not used that power wisely. (Below are some common elements of Power. Relationship Power (“power to the people”, shall I say) is seldom used in our society, including by those who could most successfully leverage it. Rather, we stick with the old traditions that kept kings and the like in control of their subjects. It strikes me as an odd reality.)

For all intents and purposes the Tea Party partisans control Congress, which in turn has an approval rating which remains at about 9%, lower than any time in history. Like Occupy Wall Street it is somewhat difficult to identify exactly who the Tea Party is; it is not as difficult to identify where it gets its power, and its not from the people at large. Long time right-wing Republican politician Dick Armey was early and visibly involved in Tea Party activities, as were others like present day Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann.
Amongst my flood of e-mails recently, have come a couple of recent commentaries that have helped me, at least, become informed about these polar opposite movements. Neither article is written by a partisan for either, and if you have any interest, the two commentaries are worth the time to read:
1. A recent commentary, here, describes the Tea Party as it currently exists in the United States**. Writer Eric Black is a retired and highly respected writer on politics who spent most of his career with the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
2. A second commentary describes the deep, seemingly unbridgeable, gulf between what are considered the Left and the Right in this country. You can read it here.
I remain fascinated with the ‘relationship’ between the ideological poles which seem so very similar in so many ways (here).
At the same time, as noted in the article in #2, the poles are very different: on the right side there seems an obsession with the absolute rights of the individual, including the right to control others; on the left seems an equal but opposite obsession emphasizing what I would call larger community ideals – “we’re all in this together”.
In the end analysis, in the fall of 2012, the deciding votes will not be those who occupy the poles, but rather those in the silent middle of the ideological landscape.
Those at the poles are best advised to consider the moderate middle in all of their actions.

UPDATE Nov. 15 a.m.:
* – There was relatively little news about the demonstration. Here is the account on page two of the Nov. 15 Minneapolis Star Tribune.
** – A ‘takeaway’ for me on reading this article was the relatively tiny actual membership in active Tea Party groups. 200,000 in the United States would translate into one member per app. 1500 population in the U.S. Their political clout has obviously been much, much greater than their relative strength in terms of membership.
From Lee, in St. Paul:
The recently approved and implemented Hennepin County Board Building Use policy regarding OccupyMN demonstrations at the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis is not in fact
“aimed at shutting down the occupation” as its supporters claim. That’s overblown rhetoric.*
I’ve followed this issue because the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in Minneapolis by OccupyMN could possibly become another 2008 Republican National Convention “train wreck” that diverts media and public attention from important “peace and justice” issues to preventable law-enforcement issues. Unfortunately, “train wreck” damage is already occurring with Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in other cities.
As I told one OccupyMN organizer whom we well know, the 2008 RNC civil court decisions on where and when protesters could march and demonstrate near the Convention site (the Xcel Energy Center) in downtown St. Paul, and the upheld criminal court convictions of protesters for illegal trespass and other law violations clearly reinforced the fact that “free speech” rights aren’t necessarily the same as occupancy rights on public or private property–especially when there’s probable cause to believe that occupation is violating city and county codes or even state laws that protect public health, safety and free access to government or private property.**
Moreover, the mounting law enforcement costs of securing the Government Center (reportedly about $200,000) are apparently diverting funds from other public needs at a time when county and city budgets are very tight and state aid to local governments has been sharply reduced.
Yes, OccupyMN demonstrations should continue and deliver their vital messages, but in ways that respect the rule of law and budget priorities. One unnecessary and costly Minnesota “train wreck” is more than enough.
Richard Lee Dechert
*See “Board Approves Changes to Building Use Policy” here
**See “The ‘RNC 8’ ‘criminalizing dissent’ conspiracy: A blatant case of ends-justify-the-means anarchy” here.

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