Monday, October 10, 2011

Differences Between the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street

The most obvious difference between the Tea Party, which I support because it opposes Obamacare, and the Occupy Wall Street protests is that, in twentieth-century terms, one's generally on the right and the other's completely on the left. So, if you think that the twentieth century's right and left wings are increasingly irrelevant to present concerns, what's the difference?

Here's a big part of the difference: (Warning: if you scroll all the way down, this blog post contains an obscene snapshot.)

Any time a group succeeds in generating "movement" among all kinds of people, we can expect to see all kinds of people doing things the founders of the group wouldn't have advised them to do. However, by and large, what Tea Partiers do is send e-mails and sponsor politicians. Some of the e-mails I've received from fellow Tea Partiers are pretty bizarre, but by and large the movement seems reasonable. And, uh, clean.

What does a Tea Partier look like? They come in all ages and colors. I'm forty-something, somewhere between the average size for White American women my age and the average size for American women in general. Usually I dress like a teacher. Once in a while I dress like a student, just because I still can. I have a low voice and tend to speak softly. Most people my age are either nearsighted or farsighted; I still have decent vision at all ranges without glasses, but as I get older my astigmatism is getting worse, which means I'll probably seem nearsighted if I look up at you from a desk, or farsighted if I stop on the street to speak to you. It takes me a minute or two to shift focus.

Most of the time, for me, a raucous protest would be to make full eye contact, project my voice, and say something that begins "Excuse me, Sir/Ma'am..." I'm Irish; I believe in using force when necessary, but I believe patience and gentleness are better.

I like the term "liberal" and think it should be reclaimed as a word that never really belonged to the twentieth century's left wing. It means free-spirited, free-thinking, and generous. It accurately describes someone who thinks the United States moved too far toward the twentieth century left, but did so for good reasons. It means I think all politicians who've supported Obamacare need to be in completely different lines of work, possibly even in different countries, but there's no need to be mean about it.

And if I were stricken with diarrhea on a city street, I might have to duck behind someone else's car, but I would at least look for a garbage bag first.